I nearly preached about relics for our All Saints Festival on Sunday.

No, I’m not talking about the congregation, who are far from being relics, I am talking about, you know, holy relics. (Not that the congregation are not holy, either).

It was that tour of the relics of Thérèse of Lisieux that made me think about it. People turned out for her in astonishing numbers during a recent tour around England and Wales. Did someone tell me that 300000 had turned out to pray near her bones.

I think that is an astonishing number. I’ve mixed views about it too. I’m enough of a modern person to find it all a bit macarbre. However, I also know that I’ve prayed at plenty of shines which claimed plenty of relics and so guess that I’m not one to criticise.

Here’s my list of visited saints’ shrines:

  • St Mark – Cairo
  • The head of John the Baptist and the bones of Elisha the Prophet – Monestary of St Macarius the Great, Wadi el Natrun
  • Cuthbert – Durham
  • Bede – Durham
  • Frideswide – Oxford
  • Various Macariuses – Wadi el Natun
  • Anba Rewis – Cairo
  • St Bishoi & Paul of Tammua – Wadi El Natrun
  • Athanasius (smelly) – Cairo
  • Edward the Confessor – London
  • Forearm of St Lawrence (suitably charred) – Ampleforth
  • Kentigern – High Kirk, Glasgow
  • Aelred – Rievaulx (though don’t know whether any of him is there)
  • Magnus – Orkney
  • Martin of Tours (jawbone) – some church next to a canal in France

I’ve a feeling I’ve been to more than that, but can’t remember right now.

All the same, I’m in no position to be sniffy about people turning out for young Thérèse now, am I?

So, the obvious next question, is, who have you visited


  1. Robin says

    I’ve visited lots of them, but my favourite must be the Holy Jubjube of S Charles the Martyr, to be found in Ullapool. (Yes, I know it should be “jujube”, not “jubjube”, but I prefer the Doric version.) When I was about 15 I knelt to venerate it in the museum, believing that I was striking a great blow for the Episcopalian faith as I did so.

  2. fr dougal says

    Cuthbert and Bede – Durham
    Augustine – Canterbury
    Mother Julian – Norwich
    Mungo -Glasgow
    Margaret’s Cave – Dunfermline
    Machar – Aberdeen
    Columba – Iona (& flew to Inverness from London once with a reliquary containing a bit in my jacket pocket – and set of the detctors going through!)

    Laurence O’Toole – Christ Church Cathedral Dublin

    Hair of Charles the Martyr – Millport

    Francis Xavier’s forearm – the Gesu, Rome

    The heads of Peter and Paul – St John Lateran Rome

    St John Southworth – Westminster Cathedral

    I’ve been around!!

  3. Lapinbizarre says

    The tongue, lower jaw and vocal chords (!!! – the same, presumably, as used for preaching to the fishes) of St Anthony, displayed in the basilica at Padua, made a strong impression on me as an eleven-year-old. Strongly recommended to connoisseurs of the grotesque.

    King Charles’s jubjube is definitely worthy of cult status. Do we know if he had sucked it?

  4. Didn’t know that there was a head of St. John the Cousin of Jesus in Wadi el Natrun. I have, however, personally seen two of his heads in two different churches in Rome.

  5. Not too many of these in Australia.

  6. In chapter lxi of the D & F, Edward Gibbon reports that St. Louis, about 1261, bought from the financially distressed Emperor in Constantinople part of the head (this would be from his fourth head?) of John the Cousin of Jesus and placed it in the Sainte Chapelle. The relic was part of a lot containing a chunk of the True Cross, Jesus’s baby clothes, the lance and spunge and chain from the Crucifixion, and Moses’s rod.

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