Relics said to be from Jesus' birth to be at Chicago church

CHICAGO Sat Dec 29, 2012 5:48am IST

Actors dressed as Mary and Joseph carrying a baby representing Jesus lead other actors portraying the Three Wise Men as part of a nativity scene past the Supreme Court in Washington, December 5, 2012. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Actors dressed as Mary and Joseph carrying a baby representing Jesus lead other actors portraying the Three Wise Men as part of a nativity scene past the Supreme Court in Washington, December 5, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Reed

Related Topics

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Tiny fragments said to be from the manger that held the infant Jesus, the veil of his mother, Mary, and a thread from the cloak of St. Joseph will be displayed by a Roman Catholic church in Chicago when it celebrates its 155th anniversary on Sunday.

The fragments, released by the Vatican in 1972, were a gift to the Holy Family Church from the Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii, also in Chicago. Displaying them now has particular significance because of their association with Christmas, which marks the birth of Jesus.

The Rev. Jeremiah J. Boland, administrator of the church, said on Friday that he is "not that interested" in carbon testing the items to see if they are from the beginning of the Christian Era.

"The Vatican has its own process to determine the authenticity of things," Boland said. "I'm more concerned with it as an object of faith."

The manger relic has "more authenticity" since it was brought from the Holy Land to the Vatican in the 5th century, Boland said.

"One could argue how real the relics of Mary or Joseph are, but there were all sorts of objects over the centuries that have been venerated and are based on faith rather than on scientific explanation," he said.

Holy Family, built in 1857-1860, is the city's second-oldest church and one of only five public buildings that survived the 1871 Great Chicago Fire.

The fragments will be on display in a crystal reliquary, a vessel in which relics of saints are preserved.

Boland said that Our Lady of Pompeii had been founded as an Italian parish, while Holy Family had been an Irish parish. In the past in Chicago as in other U.S. cities, immigrant Catholics tended to stay in parishes that reflected their ethnic backgrounds.

"In the history of the neighborhood there was a lot of tension between groups," said Boland. "The parishes weren't immune to some of these difficulties." The gift of the relics, he said, "is a healing gesture."

The mass celebrating the transfer of the relics will be held on Sunday morning, and the relics will be displayed during the afternoon.

The church will also exhibit manger scenes from around the world, including Kenya, Ireland, Italy, France, Poland, Peru, Vatican City, Mexico, Egypt and Jerusalem.

(Reporting By Mary Wisniewski)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Ebola Outbreak

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Neclear Restart

Neclear Restart

Japan's Sendai nuclear restart in final stage: local governor.  Full Article 

Fight Unites

Fight Unites

Kurds' battle for Kobani unites a people divided by borders.  Full Article 

Railway Revamp

Railway Revamp

China to spend at least $33 bln on new railway lines.  Full Article 

Controversial Remark

Controversial Remark

Thousands denounce HSBC board member's likening of Hong Kong people to freed slaves.  Full Article 

Apple's Cook signals front line of new gay rights battle

Cook Speaks Up

Apple's Cook signals front line of new gay rights battle.  Full Article 

Gas Deal

Gas Deal

Ukraine, Russia, EU agree to natural gas supply deal.  Full Article 

Jerusalem Tensions

Jerusalem Tensions

Kerry urges restraint, expresses worry over tensions in Jerusalem.  Full Article 

Myanmar Roundtable

Myanmar Roundtable

Obama urges progress in Myanmar ahead of rare roundtable.  Full Article 

Active Volcano

Active Volcano

National Guard arrives in Hawaii town threatened by lava.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage