First Class Relics
** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **
Andrew, apostle (November 30th)
St Andrew (Relics: Patras, Greece; Amalfi, Italy; Florence, Italy; Edinburgh, Scotland; Cologne, Germany; Kiev, Ukraine)
The relics of St Andrew have played a pivotal role in the history of Scotland. Tradition claims that they first entered into the annals of Scottish history in the 4th century when they were brought to Scotland by the legendary Bishop of Patras, St Regulus. It is said that this bishop was warned in a dream by an angel that the safety of the relics were in jeopardy. He then set sail from Greece for the farthest western edges of the known world in order to protect the relics. Just off the coast of Scotland his voyage met with shipwreck and he was forced to come ashore at what is now the town of St Andrews. Despite this ancient tradition and the great historical influence that the relics of St Andrew have had upon the Scottish people the original relics met a tragic fate on June 14, 1559 when they were destroyed by supporters of the Scottish Reformation.
St Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral
61 York Place
EH1 3JD, Edinburgh, United Kingdom (Scotland)
*In recent centuries the Scottish church has been blessed to receive several relics of St Andrew to replace the original relics that had been destroyed during the Scottish Reformation. In 1879 a large portion of the shoulder of St Andrew was taken from his remains in Amalfi, Italy and brought to Scotland. Also in 1969 Pope Paul VI gave additional relics of St Andrew to the Scottish church with the words, “Peter greets his brother Andrew.” These relics of St Andrew now rest within this cathedral at an altar to the right of the main sanctuary.
Anselm, bishop and doctor (April 21st), Bartholomew, apostle (August 24th), and Thomas Becket, bishop and martyr (December 29th)
St Anselm (d. 1109, Canterbury, United Kingdom)
St Bartholomew (Relics: Rome, Italy; Benevento, Italy; Lipari, Sicily; Frankfurt, Germany)
St Thomas Becket (d. 1170, Canterbury, United Kingdom) (Relics: Canterbury, United Kingdom)
CT1 2EH, Canterbury, United Kingdom
*St Anselm was originally buried within this church; however, upon the closing of this monastery by the orders of King Henry VIII his relics were lost. Nevertheless, the memory of St Anselm continues within the chapel dedicated to him on the right side of the nave.
*For centuries this church also housed the tomb St Thomas Becket. During the English Reformation, however, this tomb was destroyed. Some of his relics, nevertheless, still exist throughout the world.
*In the 11th century an arm of St Bartholomew was gifted to this church. However, this relic is also lost.
Saint Thomas of Canterbury Roman Catholic Church
CT1 2HJ, Canterbury, United Kingdom
*A reliquary within the Martyr’s Chapel of this church, located within the right transept, contains three relics of St Thomas Becket. The presence of these relics are partially explained by the following sequence of events. In 1220 AD several cardinals from Rome who were present for the translation of the body of St Thomas Becket from the crypt to the main floor of Canterbury Cathedral took several small relics of St Thomas Becket back to Italy. Upon the destruction of St Thomas Becket’s shrine in 1538 these relics of the saint were preserved. In the past two centuries some of these relics and others from around Europe have been returned to Canterbury. In the 19th century the church received from Gubbio, Italy both a piece of his vestment and a bone from his body. Then in 1953 the Prior of Chevetogne, Father Thomas Becquet, presented to this church a piece of St Thomas Becket’s finger. All three of these relics are now within the Martyr’s Chapel as noted previously.
Bede the Venerable, priest and doctor (May 25th)
St Bede (d. 735, Jarrow, Northumbria, United Kingdom) (Relics: Durham, United Kingdom)
DH1 3EH, Durham, United Kingdom
*The remains of St Bede rest within the Galilee Chapel. This is the large chapel located on the western end of the church.
John Fisher, bishop and martyr & Thomas More, martyr (June 22nd)
St John Fisher (d. 1535, London, United Kingdom) (Relics: London, United Kingdom)
St Thomas More (d. 1535, London, United Kingdom) (Relics: London, United Kingdom; Canterbury, United Kingdom)
Church of St Peter ad Vincula
Tower of London
EC3N 4AB, London, United Kingdom
*The headless bodies of St John Fisher and St Thomas More are said to rest in simple graves within the crypt of this church. Both of these saints were beheaded on Tower Hill in London.
St Dunstan’s Church
80 London Road
CT2 8LS Canterbury, United Kingdom
*The head of St Thomas More is said to rest in the Roper Vault of this church. His daughter, Margaret Roper, and his son-in-law, William Roper, are also believed to be buried in this church.
Margaret of Scotland (November 16th)
St Margaret of Scotland (d. 1093, Scotland) (Relics: Dunfermline, Scotland)
For centuries the remains of St Margaret rested within the Dunfermline Abbey in Scotland. However, with the religious upheaval in the country in the 16th century her relics were dispersed to several other nations. Her head was taken to the Scots College at Douay where it remained until its disappearance during the French Revolution. The remaining relics were taken to the Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial in Spain where they also similarly disappeared. Nevertheless, in 1863 Bishop Gillis of Scotland came to Spain and was able to locate and authenticate one relic of St Margaret from the Escorial source. He returned this relic to Scotland and placed it under the protection of the Ursuline sisters in Edinburgh where it remained for 145 years. In 2008 this relic was transferred to Dunfermline, Scotland. (Also of note: Since 1675 the Scots College in Rome, Italy has been in possession of a small relic of St Margaret.)
St Margaret’s National Memorial Church
KY12 7YN, Dunfermline, United Kingdom (Scotland)
*A shoulder bone of St Margaret of Scotland rests beneath the main altar of this church within a gothic reliquary. As noted above this relic was acquired in 2008.
Patrick, bishop (March 17th)
St Patrick (d. 461) (Relics: Downpatrick, United Kingdom)
BT30 6AB, Downpatrick, United Kingdom (Ireland)
*The exact location of St Patrick’s grave is uncertain. However, it is believed that his remains rest under a large stone in the churchyard.
St Simon Stock (d. 1265, Bordeaux, France) (Relics: Aylesford, United Kingdom, Bordeaux, France)
ME20 7BX, Aylesford, United Kingdom
*Part of the skull of St Simon Stock rests within a reliquary located behind the main altar of this church. It was transferred here in 1951.