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What are Christianity Relics?

By G. Melanson
Updated May 23, 2024
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Christianity relics are objects of significance referenced in the New Testament or Christian lore. They may exist in modern times as debatably authentic, such as the Shroud of Turin and the Image of Edessa. Christianity relics may also be believed to exist or have existed at some point and are presently unlocated, such as the Holy Grail.

Modern-day capabilities such as carbon dating have been applied to certain Christianity relics in order to help determine their authenticity. For example, fragments of what is probably the most widely-known located Christianity relic, the Shroud of Turin, underwent carbon dating in 1988. Results indicated that the fragments were from the Middle Ages and that the cloth was therefore not old enough to be a Christianity relic or the authentic burial shroud of Jesus Christ. Critics of the carbon test, however, point out that particles remaining on The Shroud of Turin from a fire which occurred during the 1500s in the chapel where it was kept may have contaminated the test results.

The ancient basilica Santa Croce in Rome, as well as other Catholic and Orthodox churches throughout Europe, house what many believe to be pieces of the “True Cross” that Christ carried to his crucifixion. As with many other Christianity relics, the True Cross carries stories which attribute miraculous healing powers to the object. According to legend, the True Cross cured a woman of illness after it was found in 300 CE by the Empress Helena.

The Holy Grail, which is supposedly the cup, bowl or plate used by Christ at the Last Supper, is perhaps the most legendary of all unlocated Christianity relics due to its connection to Arthurian folklore. According to other legends, the Holy Grail was used to catch the blood of Christ upon his crucifixion. In the popular novel and film, The Da Vinci Code, the Holy Grail is portrayed as a symbol for the womb of Mary Magdalene, who supposedly carried Christ’s child and subsequently passed down his bloodline. In The Da Vinci Code storyline, this “true” meaning of the Holy Grail is kept closely guarded and passed down throughout history by a few select members of the Priory of Sion.

Lesser-known Christianity relics include The Iron Crown of Lombardy and Bridle of Constantine, which are said to have been fashioned from the nails used during the crucifixion; The Holy Prepuce, the foreskin said to have been removed from Christ during circumcision; as well as the Gifts of the Magi given to Christ at his birth.

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