The relics (understandably) are caged in locked glass front cabinets. It was so dim I couldn't read a lot of the names associated with them. It was fascinating these things are kept there. I had no idea RC had relics like this, wee teeny pieces of of bone and teeth. Even more surprising were the 3rd grade relics for sale at the gift shop which were bits of cloth that were touched to a saint's (first grade?) relic and the rub-off effect carries the saint's powers with the relic and over to whoever buys it. So, RC magic. Another fascinating thing.
The relic chapel is only open 3 hours per day 6 days a week and they have a tour guide for info purposes as the tour can be have almost completely with one's eyes and you turn around it is so tiny in there. The really interesting relics were in cases behind the front rails that separate real people from the clergy. If I'd thought we were going to be allowed back there as payment for sitting through the speech I might have joined, but it seemed a sit and listen session.
The tour guide wore all black and a cross, but talked like a tour guide. He was doing an RC and saint history lesson before the relics part and we were hanging out at the side not sitting in pews listening. He was jovial, but it was good we weren't part of the hourly tour because when he explained the meaning of the red glass candle being lit as "Christ is here" then immediately said, "But Christ is everywhere" in a *wink nudge* voice it was all I could do to hold my tongue and not ask why have the candle then, just to hear the answer. Not being raised RC the crosses with Dead Christ on them still weird me out. The old super ornate confessionals at the back were interesting and pretty and I wondered out loud about how much professed sin the wood had absorbed.
I am not comfortable in places like these where everything is so foreign to me and I don't know the meaning behind the ornamentation, but things that I do recognize are fun and interesting. People's bones carrying some of their energy and power forward with the material? Understood. Pretty art stained-glass windows, art on the ceilings and detailed beams? Oooohhhh pretty. I get your aesthetic intrigue. Row after row of candles for blessings? Check. Confessionals? Do not get. They are pretty carved wooden photo booths for the Christian God, snapshots of a sinner's life taken through tiny windows by a priests's eyes. Creepy. Huge (20 gallon) plastic round beverage container with a spout marked "blessed water"? Hilarious. I get water that has been blessed and I get hilarity. Check. (There were finger dipping bowls of blessed water on either side of the front door.)
It felt like if the place had been empty of the people keeping an eye on visitors to not to mess with the relic cases and constantly trying to engage in conversation that a layer of peace would fall on the place and the saints would come and visit their relics. So, interesting visit for me who has never been in an RC church except to attend some weddings, but reinforcement also for why I'm not a Roman Catholic.
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