The Gospel of Rome
Part 19: Holy Relics:

Rome promotes the use of "holy relics" in the life of the Roman Catholic.

The Catholic Encyclopedia states:

The teaching of the Catholic Church with regard to the veneration of relics is summed up in a decree of the Council of Trent (Sess. XXV), which enjoins on bishops and other pastors to instruct their flocks that "the holy bodies of holy martyrs and of others now living with Christ?which bodies were the living members of Christ and 'the temple of the Holy Ghost'... are to be venerated by the faithful, for through these [bodies] many benefits are bestowed by God on men, so that they who affirm that veneration and honour are not due to the relics of the saints, or that these and other sacred monuments are uselessly honoured by the faithful, and that the places dedicated to the memories of the saints are in vain visited with the view of obtaining their aid, are wholly to be condemned, as the Church has already long since condemned, and also now condemns them." [173]

So it is clear that Roman Catholics are supposed to venerate the bodies or clothing of dead saints in order to receive "many benefits." In addition, those who teach otherwise are condemned.

According to the Roman Catholic Church, a relic is defined as:

  • some object (body or clothes) of a dead saint
  • to be venerated by "the faithful"
  • used for obtaining aid of departed saint
  • condemns anyone who teaches otherwise

St. Thomas Aquinas, arguably one of the most influential Roman Catholics of all time, wrote in his seminal work, Summa Theologica:

Objection 3. Further, a dead body is not of the same species as a living body: consequently it does not seem to be identical with it. Therefore, after a saint's death, it seems that his body should not be worshiped.

Reply to Objection 3. The dead body of a saint is not identical with that which the saint had during life, on account of the difference of form, viz. the soul: but it is the same by identity of matter, which is destined to be reunited to its form. [174]

So, according to Aquinas, it's okay to worship the dead body of a saint because it's not very different than when it was alive.

Problem: We shouldn't be worshipping anyone: living or dead!

Aquinas also wrote:

It is written (De Eccles. Dogm. xl): "We believe that the bodies of the saints, above all the relics of the blessed martyrs, as being the members of Christ, should be worshiped in all sincerity": and further on: "If anyone holds a contrary opinion, he is not accounted a Christian, but a follower of Eunomius and Vigilantius." [175]

In his influencial work, The City of God, Augustine wrote the following anecdote:

When the Bishop Projectius brought the relics of Saint Stephen to the town called Aquae Tibiltinae, the people came in great crowds to honor them. Amongst there was a blind woman, who asked the people to lead her to the bishop who had the holy relics. They did so, and the bishop gave her some flowers which he had in his hand. She took them, and put them to her eyes, and immediately her sight was restored, so that she passed speedily on before all the others, no longer requiring to be guided. [176]

The superstitious worship of relics even dates back, according to some sources, to the time of Constantine himself.

Relics that are claimed to be the Holy Nails with which Christ was crucified are objects of veneration among some Christians. When Helena, mother of Constantine the Great discovered the True Cross in Jerusalem, the legend was told by and repeated by Sozomen and Theodoret that the Holy Nails had been recovered too. Helena left all but a few fragments of the Cross in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, but returned with the nails to Constantinople.

As Theodoret tells it in his ??Ecclesiastical History, chapter xvii, "The mother of the emperor, on learning the accomplishment of her desire, gave orders that a portion of the nails should be inserted in the royal helmet, in order that the head of her son might be preserved from the darts of his enemies. The other portion of the nails she ordered to be formed into the bridle of his horse, not only to ensure the safety of the emperor, but also to fulfil an ancient prophecy; for long before Zechariah, the prophet, had predicted that 'There shall be upon the bridles of the horses Holiness unto the Lord Almighty.'" [177]

What the Bible Says about Relics:

Whereas the Roman Catholic Church encourages its people to worship "holy relics," and condemns anyone who teaches otherwise, the Bible clearly teaches against this practice.

When Jesus was tempted by the devil to give worship to Satan, the Lord correctly responded, "Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve" (Matthew 4:10).

According to Jesus, we are to worship God only - nothing else.

Paul told the Thessalonians that they "turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God" (1 Thessalonians 1:9). Christians are not to worship idols (created things) but God alone.

The true Second Commandment states, "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:  Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments" (Exodus 20:3-6). We have already discussed that this commandment is removed from the list of the Ten Commandments by Roman Catholics. It's clear why this is the case, since Rome so brazenly violates this command.

"Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves... Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female, The likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air, The likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth: And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven" (Deuteronomy 4:15-19, emphasis mine).

"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness... Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened... And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man... Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator" (Romans 1:18, 21, 23, 25, emphasis mine).

In Acts chapter 14, Paul and Barnabus are mistaken as gods by the pagan Greeks. The Greeks even began offering sacrifices to them. Paul reacted harshly:

"Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein" (Acts 14:15).

Similarly, the Apostle John began to worship an angel. "And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God" (Revelation 19:10).

All of these scriptures have the same teaching in common: God is to be worshipped, and not created beings or created things! The worship of "holy relics" in order to receive "many benefits" is a concept foreign to scripture and likewise should be seen as abominable to Christians.

Next: The Bible

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