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Steve wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • What is the designation and what are the properties of an item that was blessed at Mass by a saint?

Here's my reference: I own a French arrowhead certified to the time and place of the Battle of Patay. As such, chances are overwhelming that it was carried in the service of the army of Saint Jehenne d'Arc. Since she was present at the Battle of Patay, she would certainly have Mass-blessed her army's arms and armor before every battle, as was the tradition of the day, making the arrowhead technically blessed by a saint.

  • Would this make the arrowhead a 3rd-class holy relic, and does it bestow any divine properties upon the item?

Thank you for your kind attention.

Steve

  { What is the designation and properties of an item that was blessed at Mass by a saint? }

Mike replied:

Hi Steve,

Thanks for the question.

I found this site that gives us the appropriate designations:

  • First class relics are the body, or fragments of the body of a saint, such as pieces of bone or flesh.
  • Second class relics are something that a saint personally owned, such as a shirt or book (or fragments of those items).
  • Third class relics are those items that a saint touched or that have been touched to a first, second, or another third-class relic of a saint.

You said:

  • Would this make the arrowhead a 3rd-class holy relic, and does it bestow any divine properties upon the item?

Yes, the arrowhead is a third-class relic.

As the page above states:

Scripture teaches that God acts through relics, especially in terms of healing.
In fact, when surveying what Scripture has to say about sacred relics, one is left with the idea that healing is what relics “do”.

  • When the corpse of a man was touched to the bones of the prophet Elisha the man came back to life and rose to his feet (2 Kings 13:20-21).

  • A woman was healed of her hemorrhage simply by touching the hem of Jesus' cloak (Matthew 9:20-22).

  • The signs and wonders worked by the Apostles were so great that people would line the streets with the sick so that when Peter walked by at least his shadow might ‘touch' them (Acts 5:12-15).

  • When handkerchiefs or aprons that had been touched to Paul were applied to the sick, the people were healed and evil spirits were driven out of them (Acts 19:11-12).

It goes on to remind the reader that it is God that heals through the relic. The relic itself doesn't do any healing. Catholics with a strong devotion for relics should ensure they are perpetually conscientious of this when sharing their relics with their Protestant friends.

I hope this helps,

Mike

Eric replied:

Hi Steve,

  1. A third-class relic is an item that has been touched by a first- or second-class relic.
  2. A second-class relic is something the saint actually possessed while alive.
  3. A first-class relic is a part of the saint's body.

Unless the saint actually touched the arrow, it would not be a relic.

According to the 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia,

"There is nothing, therefore, in Catholic teaching to justify the statement that the Church encourages belief in a magical virtue, or physical curative efficacy residing in the relic itself."

God may use a relic as an occasion of miracles, but we mustn't be superstitious and think that it has any inherent power.

As for a blessing, a similar argument would apply. A blessed item must be used in faith with the right disposition to be of any benefit; it is not a good luck charm. Whatever benefits you may obtain from it are always oriented toward your salvation, not toward your own desires.

Also, simply being "Mass-blessed" by the saint doesn't, in and of itself, make it a third-class relic.

According to Wikipedia, a third-class relic is something touched by a first-class or second-class relic (not a third-class relic). Wikipedia could be wrong, I'll admit, but its definition is my recollection.

Eric

Steve replied:

Dear Mike,

Thank you for your reply. I respectfully suggest that you get together with your peers and discuss this one. I have one answer from your web site colleague saying no, a priest saying yes, and you saying yes.

Of course, an item blessed by a priest (or person of God) is not a relic! The blessing of a Saint is the issue.

I am guessing that the negative reply is due to the fact that neither the saint, nor items touched by the saint, touched the arrowhead, and that the positive replies result from the blessing coming directly from a saint as opposed to a less-angelic person of God.

Because of the discrepancy in answers, I will continue to pursue the question.

Regards,

Steve

Steve replied:

Dear Eric,

Thank you for your reply. I respectfully suggest that you get together with your peers and discuss this one. I have one answer from your website colleague saying yes, A priest saying yes, and you saying no.

Of course an item blessed by a priest (or person of God) is not a relic! The blessing of a Saint is the issue.

Because of the discrepancy in answers, I will continue to pursue the question.

I do cherish the note you made concerning the "properties" of a relic, lying in salvation, rather than desire.

Regards,

Steve

Eric replied:

Hi Steve,

You said:
Thank you for your reply. I respectfully suggest that you get together with your peers and discuss this one. I have one answer from your website colleague saying yes, A priest saying yes, and you saying no.

I'm confused. The only [yes or no] question Mike answered was whether it was a third-class relic, and he said yes. I said no, provisionally. Perhaps you're confusing my response with Mike's.
You, too, say "no" in your latest reply, although that issue was part of your original question.

  • Is this the question you are referring to?

You said:
Of course an item blessed by a priest (or person of God) is not a relic! The blessing of a Saint is the issue.

So you say "the blessing of a Saint" is the issue, and you agree it is not a relic. Mike didn't specifically address the question of blessing; that was me.

You said
I am guessing that the negative reply is due to the fact that neither the saint, nor items touched by the saint, touched the arrowhead, and that the positive replies result from the blessing coming directly from a saint as opposed to a less-angelic person of God.

Probably. Remember, a Mass-blessing — I am envisioning a pile of weapons or maybe even weapons held in hand and blessed at a distance — doesn't confer a relic status. It might make the object blessed, but it doesn't make it a relic, at least not in the current, formal sense of the word, as you and I agree.

Eric

Mike replied:

Hi Steve,

I've followed the dialogue and e-mails throughout this discussion and Eric is right:

He said:
The only yes-or-no question Mike answered was whether it was a third-class relic, and he said yes. I said no, provisionally.

I have no problems with the rest of his answer.

The reason I said yes, was based on the definition I thought was creditable.

You said:
I own a French arrowhead certified to the time and place of the Battle of Patay. As such, chances are overwhelming that it was carried in the service of the army of Saint Jehenne d'Arc. Since she was present at the Battle of Patay, she would certainly have Mass-blessed her army's arms and armor before every battle, as was the tradition of the day, making the arrowhead technically blessed by a saint.

Whether the relic was Mass-blessed, or not, is irrelevant. I'm assuming a high probability that she probably touched the arrowhead, making it a third class relic according to the definitions below. Yeah, you could argue probability doesn't make it a relic, so in that case, Eric may be correct. I would think there would have to be some certification that the saint did touch the arrowhead.

  • First class relics are the body, or fragments of the body of a saint, such as pieces of bone or flesh.
  • Second class relics are something that a saint personally owned, such as a shirt or book (or fragments of those items).
  • Third class relics are those items that a saint touched or that have been touched to a first, second, or another third-class relic of a saint.

Everyone understand where I'm coming from?

Mike

Steve replied:

Mike and all,

Thank you for your attention. In fact, the chances of her touching the arrowhead are nil. She would stand before the troops and direct a prayer blessing over them, as there were thousands of them and hundreds of thousands of pieces of arms and armor.

So, it's not a relic. I am glad to have that settled. The most important thing to me is not a blessing, which would have most likely been specifically for strength and true flight in the service of God, but the fact that the item is an historical (as opposed to theological) relic of one of the most unlikely and stirring legends ever lived.

Best to you all — and thanks again!,

Steve

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