Patton Catholic church displays relics

Priest, a member of Companions of the Cross, travels world to display artifacts

Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski / Evan Larkin, 10, of Patton looks at a theca relic holder during a presentation and exposition of sacred relics at the Queen of Peace Catholic Church social hall in Patton on Sunday afternoon.

PATTON — Hundreds of people crowded the pews Sunday inside Queen of Peace Catholic Church, where their wasn’t an empty seat.

The standing-room-only attendance wasn’t for a weekly Mass. Instead, the crowd was there to listen as the Rev. Carlos Martins, a Catholic priest, spoke about his work in devotion to the saints.

More than an hour later, those churchgoers would move from Queen of Peace to a nearby hall, where more than 100 relics were on display.

Among them was a piece of the cross Jesus was crucified upon, a fragment of his childhood crib and a portion of his mother, Mary’s, veil, Martins claimed.

Martin, a member of the Companions of the Cross, travels the world displaying the relics and others like them to congregations that request his presence.

“Since the start of December, this is my ninth country,” he said.

Speaking to those gathered, Martins talked about those relics, which he said attract the healing power of God. Contact with those relics, Martins claims, has been enough to bring a paralyzed man to walk and to eradicate cancer from the body of a sick child.

“Her cancer was healed completely and instantly,” he said.

But Martins wanted to dispel beliefs that the relics themselves were magical. He said it instead is God’s work through the objects that provides the healing benefits.

There are three types of relics, Martins said. The first type consists of actual pieces of the saints, parts of their bodies. The second is any possession or piece of a possession that once belonged to a saint.

The third is any object that may have touched a saint or another relic.

On Sunday, Martins encouraged the more than 400 people in attendance to touch any religious totems in their possession to the displayed relics to created relics of their own.

Pieces of cloth and fragments of bone were among the items on display. Each of the items was vetted through a fool-proof authentication process, Martins said.

When a relic is created, it is placed into a container called a theca, which includes a glass window so the item can be viewed, he said.

On the back of those containers is two strings tied together in the center, where a church official then uses wax and a seal to ensure that the item cannot be tampered with, Martins said. A certificate from the sealing official also is issued, he said.

“This is very simple, but very effective,” Martins said.

The healing power of relics was first referenced in the Bible’s Old Testament, Martins said, and, since then, faithful churchgoers have held reverence for the items. On Sunday, those items on display were associated with figures like Saint Patrick, Saint Joseph and Saint Maria Goretti.

Goretti played an integral part in Martins’ message, providing a means for the priest to inspire those in attendance to forgive those who have done them harm. Goretti forgave the man who stabbed her 14 times before she died, Martins said.

Jacob Jolly, 17, and his 11-year-old brother, Jonathan, were especially moved by Goretti’s story, they said after the event. The younger brother said he was surprised to hear that relics could provide a means to heal physical ailments.

“It also proves that Christianity is the true religion,” he said.

Forgiveness was one of four religious virtues that Martins encouraged churchgoers to adopt on Sunday.

“Then you will experience the presence and power of the loving God today,” he said.

Donna Bubb and her daughter, Elizabeth, traveled more than two hours to experience that power. In the church hall, Donna said she had attended a similar event closer to home, but her daughter was unable to make it. So Donna asked Elizabeth if she wanted to make the trip to Patton.

“She said, ‘Sure.'”

Donna described her time among the relics as “such a wonderful and moving experience.”

Elizabeth, 19, said she was equally inspired by the saints.

“We can follow in their footsteps and their example,” she said.

Martins said churches have to request his presentation, which he provides at no cost. The presentation is booked for the next four years, he said, explaining he has been the director of the relic program for 21 years.

Prior to the Sunday presentation, Queen of Peace pastor, the Rev. Ananias Buccicone, Order of Saint Benedict, said Martins’ presence in Patton was requested well over a year ago.

“I’m so grateful and happy,” he said, addressing his congregation.