So Many Devotions...So Little Time
If I may add a personal note to this topic, I remember that when our professors for a Church & Culture class in Rome last fall took us on a site visit to the Basilica of Santa Croce, they spoke about how, of all the relics in the Church's possession, these relics are actually some of the most reliabiliy venerated (ie, historically accurate), due to the records that we have of the cargo that St. Helena brought back from the Holy Land, and other documentation from very early on after their discovery that attests consistently as to the material found. The only "questionable" one of the lot from what I understand is the INRI sign - found only a few centuries ago "hidden" behind a wall plate in the apse of the basilica. Oddly enough, we were told by the professors that it was really the sign that seemed to point most clearly to the authenticity of the relics for the authorities concerned - due to its inscription characteristics, in the three languages, and written in the proper order, right to left, in the Jewish writing.
Even without it, however, the other relics - at least as far back as Helena's possession, are held with the highest level of authenticity by the Church. I suppose there can always be questions as regards the actual finding by St. Helena itself (people have forever doubted that the story of the miraculous dream and the cure which told which of the crosses was the True Cross could really have happened - I suppose it is a matter of faith in the end!), but that brings me to perhaps a final point. We *can* doubt relics, it is not a matter of our salvation that we venerate any particular piece of wood as being "the" Cross. There is much more apologetically that can be said about relics, but that is one of the key points about our practices that I feel many non-Catholics do not understand. Like the Rosary and any other private devotion or private revelation, the Church has never said that such things must be done or believed in order to gain eternal life - they are not necessary for our eternal salvation, but have been given to us by God, ultimately, as a way to aid us on our journey towards Him.
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So Many Devotions...So Little Time now!