The conservation process gets underway for relics owned by the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany.
The conservation process gets underway for relics owned by the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany.
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The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany just held a prayer service that included a rededication and exposition of the relics it has, as well as exaltation and veneration of its relic of the true cross. Rev. David LeFort, diocesan vicar general and rector of the cathedral, noted that “we honor the relics of the saints because their bodies are, in a sense, the body of Christ. In each of them, the Son of God has been mystically incarnate; in every one of them He has prayed and labored and suffered in accordance with the Father’s will.”

Relics are physical objects that have a direct association with the saints or God. They are broken down into three classes:  first-class relics, the body or fragments of the body of a saint; second-class relics, something that a saint personally owned; and third-class relics, items that a saint touched or that have been touched to a relic of a saint. The cathedral has more than three dozen sacred relics that have been bequeathed by popes, bishops, priests, individuals and institutions, or transferred from churches that closed.

There are relics of St. Joseph, St. Paul, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Scholastica, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Benedict, St. Patrick, St. Rose of Lima, St. Jean Baptiste de la Salle, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. Frances Cabrini, St. Pope Pius X and St. Charles Lwanga. The relic of the true cross was presented to Bishop Francis McNeirny by Pope Pius IX in 1877. Pius IX created the Diocese of­­ ­Albany in 1847.

The cathedral has been conserving the relics, including cleaning and repairing the reliquaries and opening several metal boxes that contained relics so they could be cared for and the contents reviewed. A catalog of the relics is being finalized.     

The cathedral is celebrating New York State History Month through November with a historical exhibit featuring items like a zucchetto worn by Venerable Pope Pius XII and Bishop Thomas Cusack’s study Bible.