An Encyclopedia of Relics
By Thomas J. Craughwell
(Image, Paperback, 9780307590732, 336pp.)
Publication Date: July 12, 2011
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A finger, a lock of hair, a crucifix, a chalice—if such items belonged to a saint, they are considered to be relics and as such are venerated by the Catholic Church. Anyone who thinks that relics are remnants of the Middle Ages should log on to eBay. On any day of the week the online shopper will find a thriving business in the sale of these items, ranging from the dust from the tomb of Christ to splinters of the True Cross to bone fragments of countless holy men and women. In Saints Preserved: An Encyclopedia of Relics, author Thomas J. Craughwell takes us on an exhilarating journey through the life and death of more than three hundred saints and along the way enlightens us about the sometimes strange bits and pieces that the saints left behind.
Including entries on the famous (Saint Peter, Saint Francis, Saint Thérèse of Lisieux) and the not so famous (Saint Foy, Saint Sicaire, Saint Chrysogonus), Saints Preserved also features information on such notable relics as the Holy House where Jesus, Mary, and Joseph lived; the Crown of Thorns; the Holy Grail; and the seven places that claim to possess the head of Saint John the Baptist—among them a mosque in Damascus. Moreover, this book includes major relics that are enshrined in the United States—for example, the complete skeleton of the Roman martyr Saint Vibiana enshrined in a cathedral in Los Angeles.
From the extraordinary Aachen relics to the remains of Saint Zita, Saints Preserved is an indispensable compendium for spiritual seekers, history buffs, and anyone interested in deepening their understanding of the Catholic faith.
THOMAS J. CRAUGHWELL is the author of Saints Behaving Badly, Saints Preserved, This Saint Will Change Your Life, and Pope Francis: The Pope from the End of the Earth. Every month he writes a column on patron saints for Catholic diocesan newspapers. He has also written about saints for the Wall Street Journal, St. Anthony Messenger, and Catholic Digest and has discussed saints on CNN and EWTN. His book, Stealing Lincoln's Body, was made into a two-hour documentary on the History Channel.
"Saints Preserved is not a stuffy historical account or pious index of which relics are where. Craughwell has a marvelous sense of humor that shines in his breezy - and fascinating - descriptions of the relics, their provenance and the relic-enthusiast subculture, if you will” – Cathleen Falsani, The Huffington Post
“Craughwell’s exhaustive catalogue extends through the Eastern and Roman churches to include items referenced in scripture; it relates their histories and known locations, and provides entertaining yet respectful hagiographies of the men and women whose faithful lives have inspired such reverent interest in all they have left behind. This is a marvelously-researched resource that should become a classic entry to a seeker’s spiritual library, and yes, I do recommend it!” – Elizabeth Scalia, The Anchoress blog
"Long before there were cameras and videos to record for posterity, relics had become the visible reminder of great, heroic and holy lives—remembrances of heroes of the faith. Saints Preserved: An Encyclopedia of Relics gives an account of the lives of those heroes and provides renewed inspiration for Christians everywhere who face many of the challenges that were a part of the lives of the saints." —Cardinal Donald Wuerl, co-author of The Mass and author of The Catholic Way
"Relics are an often misunderstood part of the Catholic devotional life. Derided as either superstitious or just plain 'gross,' they are in fact an important reminder of the physicality of the saints. The saints were not mythical creatures or legendary personages, but flesh-and-blood men and women who walked the earth, ate and drank, wore clothes, wrote letters, and lived entirely human lives. Thomas Craughwell's new book provides readers with a comprehensive guide to the most important relics in the church and where they can be found, and venerated. His book is simply one of a kind." —James Martin, SJ, author of My Life with the Saints and The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything.
"Honoring relics was one of the distinguishing marks of early Christianity. A practice rooted in Scripture, it was a universally popular devotion. Thomas Craughwell helps us recover this important element of our tradition. He shares a fascination born of love, the deep familial love that made a family of the first-century Church, and can renew our sense of family in the Church of the twenty-first century." —Mike Aquilina, author of The Fathers of the Church and Roots of the Faith
"Sacred Scripture tells us that, 'Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of His holy ones' (Ps. 116:15). These holy men and women, boys and girls, whom we know as saints, are therefore precious to the Catholic Church. Thomas J. Craughwell has rendered an honorable service to the Church and the world with his new book, Saints Preserved—a lively and captivating account of 300 resplendent saints and their holy relics, which we venerate with devotion to this day.
—Patrick Madrid, author of Search and Rescue and Does the Bible Really Say That?