Relics in the Coptic Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Church

edited February 2012 in Random Issues
I have had a couple of questions which came up when I found out that Laity in the Catholic Church are permitted to own a relic of a saint (sometimes a piece of bone) or even a sliver of the wood of the True Cross. Why is this so? Why doesn't our church believe in the owning of relics by the Laity for private veneration?

Pray for me,
Je Nai Nan


  • What do you mean by Catholic saint. Can you give an example.
  • [quote author=Father Peter link=topic=12900.msg151677#msg151677 date=1328976863]
    What do you mean by Catholic saint. Can you give an example.

    I don't know any Catholic Saints Abouna, I can't really recognize some... lol forgive my ignorance  :P
  • Why did you want to know if you could venerate Catholic saints and martyrs?
  • Most of my question was about why Laity in the Catholic Church are allowed to own relics and use them for private veneration when we can't do that  :P
  • Things outside of Egypt have been very different over the last 1500 years. In a context of the complete domination of the country by Islam it makes sense that only the Churches kept the relics safe, and in any case, being rather cut off, there was little reception of other relics, or the sending of relics to other places.

    In the West there has not been the same situation and so relics were much more available from place to place and were shared with churches in different countries. This much greater availability meant that first of all the most important nobility might be given some small relic, and then other laity also had the opportunity to acquire small relics.

    If the West had been oppressed in the same way then the access to relics would undoubtedly have been as restricted as it has been in Egypt. In the West many laity, priests and of course Churches, have access to relics and it is not considered desperately unusual.
  • So is it allowed today for a Coptic Orthodox person to own a small relic of his own for private veneration and blessing, or would it be against the Church?
  • You would have to ask your own priest and bishop.

    The fact is that I have grown up in an entirely different context. My views (whatever they are) might have value for someone in the British Orthodox diocese, but are not a justification for acting contrary to whatever the tradition presently is in the Orthodox Church of Alexandria generally.

    There are opportunities to receive dust from various places, for instance, or cloth touched to a relic of a saint. These may be less problematic and as meaningful.

    My own Church has relics of several saints, including St Alban.
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