Saturday, October 29, 2005
I made a little pilgrimage to the Church of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme today. They restored the Chapel of the Relics (of Our Lord's Passion) and so I was able to visit them in their traditional location for the first time in a little while. Having said a few prayers there, I moved into a side room wherein was displayed a reproduction of the Shroud of Turin. In that room was a door, with a grille covered with a red and gold curtain. A faded inscription read 'Relics of the Saints' and I pushed the curtain aside. Seeing nothing but darkness, I poked my digital camera in between the bars of the grille, turned on the flash and snapped. This is the result. (Click on the image to enlarge.)
If you download the picture, you can use whatever image software is on your computer to make out some of the saints names. St Hilary is there, as is St Nereus and the mitred young man on the left is St Stephen. As you can see, it's almost like a lumber room of relics. It's not at all uncommon for Roman churches to have huge collections of relics in their sacristies or in a side chapel. Most notable, in my opinion, is the relics chapel in St Paul outside the Walls and an altar in S. Ignazio which is decorated with the bones of dozens of Jesuit martyrs.
All Saints' Day is coming up, and some churches take the opportunity to put their relics on display. Particularly worth visiting is St Peter's - dozens of reliquaires are placed atop the huge Papal Altar.