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Relics of Romanism

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                 SPIRITUAL DARKNESS IN THE MIDDLE AGES #6


The RELICS of ROMANISM

by Ralph Woodrow


     THE GROSS SUPERSTITION that has accompanied the use of
relics reveals the deception and inconsistency with which
Romanism has been plagued for centuries. Among the most highly
venerated relics have been pieces of the "true cross." So many of
these were scattered throughout Europe and other parts of the
world that Calvin once said that if all pieces were gathered
together, they would form a good ship-load; yet the cross of
Christ was carried by one individual! Are we to believe that
these pieces miraculously multiplied as when Jesus blessed the
loaves and fishes? Such was apparently the belief of St.Paulinus
who spoke of "The redintegration of the Cross, i.e. that it never
grew smaller in size, no matter how many pieces were detached
from it"! The noted reformer, John Calvin (1509-1564), mentioned
the inconsistency of various relics of his day. Several churches
claimed to have the crown of thorns; others the water-pots used
by Jesus in the miracle of Cana. Some of the wine was to be found
at Orleans. Concerning a piece of broiled fish Peter offered
Jesus, Calvin said, "It must have been wondrously well salted, if
it has kept for such a long series of ages." The crib of Jesus
was exhibited for veneration every Christmas eve at St.Mary
Major's in Rome. Several churches claimed to have the baby
clothes of Jesus. The church of St.James in Rome displayed the
altar on which Jesus was placed when he was presented in the
temple. Even the foreskin (from his circumcision) was shown by
the monks of Charroux, who, as a proof of its genuineness,
declared that it yielded drops of blood. Several churches claimed
to possess the "holy prepuce", including a church at Coulombs.
France, the Church of St.John in Rome, and the Church of Puy in
Velay!
     Other relics include Joseph's carpenter tools, bones of the
donkey on which Jesus rode into Jerusalem, the cup used at the
Last Supper, the empty purse of Judas, Pilate's basin, the coat
of purple thrown over Jesus by the mocking soldiers, the sponge
lifted to him on the cross, nails from the cross, specimens of
the hair of the Virgin Mary (some brown, some blond, some red,
and some black), her skirts, wedding ring, slippers, veil, and
even a bottle of the milk on which Jesus had been suckled.
     According to Catholic belief, Mary's body was taken to
heaven. But several different churches in Europe did claim to
have the body of Mary's mother, even though we know nothing about
her and she was not even given the name "St Ann" until a few
centuries ago! Even more difficult is the story about Mary's
house. Catholics believe that the house in which Mary lived at
Nazareth is now in the little town of Loreto, Italy, having been
transported there by angels!
     The Catholic Encyclopedia says: "Since the fifteenth
century, and possibly even earlier, the 'Holy House' of Loreto
has been numbered among the most famous shrines of Italy ... The
interior measures only thirty-one feet by thirteen. An altar
stands at one end beneath a statue, blackened with age, of the
Virgin Mother and her Divine Infant ... venerable throughout the
world on account of the Divine mysteries accomplished in it ...
It is here that most holy Mary, Mother of God, was born; here
that she was saluted by the Angel; here that the eternal Word was
made Flesh. Angels conveyed Interior of 'Holy House' at Loreto
this House from Palestine to the town Tersato in Illyria in the
year of salvation 1291 in the pontificate of Nicholas IV. Three
years later, in the beginning of the pontificate of Boniface
VIII, it was carried again by the ministry of angels and placed
in a wood ... where having changed its station thrice in the
course of a year, at length, by the will of God it took up its
permanent position on this spot ... That the traditions thus
boldly proclaimed to the world have been fully sanctioned by the
Holy See cannot for a moment remain in doubt. More than
forty-seven Popes have in various ways rendered honor to the
shrine, and an immense number of Bulls and Briefs proclaim
without qualification the identity of the Santa Casa di Loreto
with the Holy House of Nazareth"! 

     The veneration of dead bodies of martyrs was ordered by the
Council of Trent, the Council which also condemned those who did
not believe in relics: "The holy bodies of holy martyrs ... 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 honor are not due to the relics of the saints ...
are wholly to be condemned, as the Church has already long since
condemned, and also now condemns them." Because it was believed
that "many benefits" could come through the bones of dead men,
the sale of bodies and bones became big business!
     In about 750, long lines of wagons constantly came to Rome
bringing immense quantities of skulls and skeletons which were
sorted, labeled, and sold by the popes. Graves were plundered by
night and tombs in churches were watched by armed men! "Rome",
says Gregorovius, "was like a mouldering cemetery in which hyenas
howled and fought as they dug greedily after corpses." There is
in the Church of St.Prassede a marble slab which states that in
517, Pope Paschal had the bodies of 2,300 martyrs transferred
from cemeteries to this church. When Pope Boniface IV converted
the Pantheon into a Christian church in about 609, "twenty-eight
cartloads of sacred bones were said to have been removed from the
Catacombs and placed in a prophyry basin beneath the high altar."
     Placing bones beneath a church or other relics were required
to "consecrate" the ground and building. The Castle Church at
Wittenberg, to the door of which Luther nailed his famous
"Ninety-five Theses", had 19,000 saintly relies!" Bishops were
forbidden by the second Nicaean Council in 787 to dedicate a
building if no relics were present; the penalty for so doing was
excommunication! Were these ideas taken from the Bible or from
paganism ?
     In the old legends, when Nimrod the false "savior" of
Babylon died, his body was torn limb from limb - part being
buried one place, and part another. When he was "resurrected",
becoming the sun-god, it was taught that he was now in a
different body, the members of the old body being left behind.
This is in contrast to the death of the true savior, Jesus
Christ, of whom it was prophesied, "A bone of him shall not be
broken" (John 19:36) and who was resurrected in the true sense of
the word. The resurrection of Christ resulted in an empty tomb,
no parts of his body being left behind for relics!

     In the old mystery religion, the various places where it was
believed a bone of their god was buried were considered sacred -
"consecrated" by a bone. "Egypt was covered with sepulchres of
its martyred god; and many a leg and arm and skull, all vouched
to be genuine, were exhibited in the rival burying places for the
adoration of the Egyptian faithful." 
     The influence of Egypt on the children of Israel is
evidenced in their setting up of the golden calf. Since Egypt was
a place of multiplied relics, the wisdom of God in the secret
burial of Moses is apparent (Deut.34:6). No one knew the place of
his burial and no sacred pilgrimages could be made to his tomb.
Years later, the brass serpent that Moses made was named
"Nehustan" and was worshipped as a sacred relic by the Israelites
(2 Kings 18:4). If such idolatry was practiced with something
Moses made, how much deeper in idolatry would they have gone had
they possessed one of his hones!

     Perhaps needless to say, the use of relics is very ancient
and did not originate with Christianity. The Catholic
Encyclopedia rightly says that the use "of some object, notably
part of the body or clothes, remaining as a memorial of a
departed saint" was in existence "before the propagation of
Christianity" and "the veneration of relics, in fact, is to some
extent a primitive instinct associated with many other religious
systems besides that of Christianity." If Christ and the apostles
did not use relics, but the use of such was known prior to
Christianity and among other religions, do we not have another
example of a pagan idea being "Christianized"? We do not see that
relics have any part in true worship, for "God is a Spirit: and
they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth"
(John 4:24). The extremism to which the use of relics has led, is
certainly not "truth." Some of the bones that were at one time
acclaimed as the bones of saints have been exposed as the bones
of animals! In Spain, a cathedral once displayed what was said to
be part of a wing of the angel Gabriel when he visited Mary. Upon
investigation, however, it was found to be a magnificent ostrich
feather! It is not necessary to labor long on this point. The
Catholic Encyclopedia itself recognizes that many relics are
doubtful. "Many of the more ancient relics duly exhibited for
veneration in the great sanctuaries of Christendom or even at
Rome itself must now be pronounced to be either certainly
spurious or open to grave suspicion ... difficulties might be
urged against the supposed 'column of the flagellation' venerated
at Rome in the Church of Santa Prassede and against many other
famous relics"!

     How, then, is this discrepancy explained? The Catholic
Encyclopedia continues: "...no dishonor is done to God by the
continuance of an error which has been handed down in perfect
good faith for many centuries ... Hence there is justification
for the practice of the Holy See in allowing the cult of certain
doubtful ancient relics to continue." 

     But, again, we would point out that true worship is in
spirit and in truth - not by the continuance of an error. Even if
we did have one of Mary's hairs, or a bone of the apostle Paul,
or the robe of Jesus, would God be pleased with these things
being set up as objects of worship? According to the example of
the brass serpent of Moses, he would not. We can only ask: if
there would be no real virtue in the actual hair, bone, or robe,
how much less merit can there be in relics which are known to be
fakes?

                        ...........................


To be continued with "Religious Fraud"


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