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How 5,000 relics found a home in a Pittsburgh chapel


Pittsburgh, Pa., Dec 27, 2016 / 02:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Nestled in a sleepy neighborhood in the hills rising over Pittsburgh lies a small chapel. Inside St. Anthony’s Chapel lies a piece from the Crown of Thorns, a tooth of St. Anthony of Padua, and more than 5,000 other verified relics, or remains, of saints from around the world.

Indeed for the fragments from the bodies and scraps of the belongings of countless saints, these relics continued to have earthly adventures long after the saints’ deaths. Many of the relics traveled across the world to escape war, confiscation, and desecration to make it into the safe hands of a Belgian-born physician and priest, Fr. Suitbert Mollinger, who founded the chapel.

The chapel now holds the largest collection of relics outside of Rome.

“Fr. Stewart Mollinger, well, he had an unusual hobby in which he liked to acquire relics of the saints,” Carole Brueckner, chairperson of the committee for St. Anthony’s Chapel, explained to CNA.

But in the midst of the political and social turmoil which Europe experienced at the end of the 19th century, this curious hobby was crucial to saving relics from across the continent.

Since the second century, Catholics have honored the relics of saints- either pieces of body parts or cherished belongings of holy men and women. While theologians and Church documents clarify that relics are not to be worshiped, nor do they hold magical powers, the teaching adds that relics must be treated with respect, as they belong to persons now in heaven. While relics do not have power in and of themselves, God can continue to work miracles in the presence of the saint’s body even after death, the Church teaches. Relics are present in, or below, many Catholic altars.

Read more at Catholic World Report.

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