Residents of Middle Tennessee will have three opportunities to witness the “Sacred Relics of the Saints: Treasures of the Church” exposition as it comes to three parishes in March.
It’s an opportunity that first began with Susan Skinner, director of Adult Faith Formation and RCIA at St. Philip Church in Franklin.
“Back in 2013 … I went to the Treasures of the Church Exposition that was held at St. Pius in Nashville. I experienced smelling the odor of sanctity, a very floral smell, while standing in front of the relic of Father Michael McGivney,” the founder of the Knights of Columbus, Skinner said. “I never forgot the experience and I realized he must have been a very holy man even though he was not one of the beatified and canonized saints. I didn’t know much about him, but I learned his story after attending the exposition, and I was in awe of how he lived the words of the Gospel to help the widow and the orphan.”
“When I started working at St. Philip, I remembered the exposition, and I put in a request for a visit” in 2016, she said.
Six years later, with more expositions in Middle Tennessee churches requested as well as two churches in the Diocese of Knoxville, the exposition will finally come to the Franklin community.
The exposition will be at St. Ignatius of Antioch at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 26; St. Philip at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 27; and St. Rose of Lima Church in Murfreesboro at 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 28.
“It’s especially amazing to me” that this is when the exposition was able to happen, Skinner said. “Father McGivney was just beatified this past year, and it was a miracle from a Tennessee family that was the approved miracle. I count it as two Tennessee miracles for Father McGivney and for St. Philip to be able to host this exposition.”
Treasures of the Church
“Treasures of the Church is a ministry of evangelization of the Catholic Church. Run by Father Carlos Martins of the Companions of the Cross, it’s purpose is to give people an experience of the living God through an encounter with the relics of his saints in the form of an exposition,” according to the official Treasures of the Church website. “Each exposition begins with a multi-media presentation on the Church’s use of relics that is scriptural, catechetical and devotional, leading to a renewal of the Catholic faith for many people. After the teaching, those in attendance have an opportunity to venerate the relics of some of their favorite saints.
“The veneration of relics is a communion with the heroes of our Christian faith, asking for their powerful intercession,” the website continues. “Many people have reported outstanding blessings and conversions through this ministry, and many have reported healings.”
The exposition of more than 150 relics includes those of St. Maria Goretti, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Faustina Kowalska and more.
“The supreme highlight is one of the largest relics of the Church’s claim to the True Cross in the world and a piece of the veil that, according to sanctioned tradition, is believed to have belonged to Our Lady,” the site says.
What is a relic?
Relics are objects that are associated with the saints or Jesus Christ himself, and there are various classes.
A first-class relic came from the body of a saint, be it a bone, flesh or blood.
A second-class relic is the entirety or fragment of an object the saint personally owned.
A third-class relic are items that were touched by a saint or were touched by another relic of any class, and it is an opportunity that will be afforded to those who attend the exposition.
“Attendees are encouraged to bring their articles of devotion (such as rosaries, holy cards, etc.) and pictures of ill friends or family members, which may be touched to the reliquaries,” which contain the holy relics “as a means to intercessory prayer,” the site says.
‘Experience the faith’
Parish representatives have high hopes for those that attend the exposition.
“This is a very rare and unique opportunity to connect with the Communion of Saints in a way that most people don’t get to experience,” Skinner said. “It is a privilege to be able to host the relic exposition of so many holy men and women, and we hope that the talk and exposition inspire the people of our time to be saints. We hope people can come and experience the faith in a whole new way.”
Lisa Dotolo, cantor and parishioner at St. Ignatius, whose idea it was to bring the exposition to Antioch, said it’s an opportunity to “grow closer to a saint.”
“This also could be an opportunity to explore further your saint of interest and learn more about their lives; to pray to them for help and guidance in the years to come,” Dotolo said. “This is a wonderful spirit-filled event to learn about how ordinary people did extraordinary things and became saints.
“The opportunity to touch some of the relics and even look at them as you go around the display is an amazing chance to draw closer to the saints and the Holy Spirit,” she said. “Lent is the perfect time for this to take place and draw closer to God.”
The expositions are free and open to the public, but free-will donations to the ministry are encouraged.