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You realize that while you were experiencing this lifetime of Catholic practice, I was on the Junior High Sunday School Retreat at Panacea Falls.

My technical and canonical knowledge about relics would not fill a thimble. Still, there are two in my house. Both of them came to us on the day we were received into the Catholic Church. The first is a relic of Saint Francis. That is, it purports to be, and we take it at its word, maybe in the same way that the dotty poisoning sisters in Arsenic and Old Lace let Teddy go on thinking he’s digging the Panama Canal in the basement. Or maybe not. At any rate, a friend gave it to us — he had received it via some secret and circuitous channel not involving any exchange of funds on his part — and it has lived on the mantel, in a modest brass reliquary with what look like lapis lazulis, ever since.

The other is one of those rosaries with the sort of rubbery-feeling orzo-shaped beads, the ones that come in pretty much every color and that you buy five of at a go so that when one breaks, you always have another. Another friend of mine had this rosary — a blue one, as it happens — and she went to visit a priest she knew, and he showed her his relic collection, which apparently was really quite eye-popping. While she was beholding the relics, she was also holding this rosary, and she touched it to a neckbone of Saint Thomas More, who is my patron saint, and then she gave it to me.

These are gift relics. We don’t look them in the mouth, or . . . whatever. I can’t actually tell what our bit of Saint Francis is supposed to be. I don’t lose much sleep over it, either. As far as I’m concerned, Saint Francis lives here, and Saint Thomas More prays with me, and that’s that.

So the moral . . . the moral, I guess, is that if your friends pray for you as much as our friends prayed for us, maybe they’ll give you a relic, too, and you won’t even have to go looking for one on eBay.

And if it’s Saint Francis, then it is to be hoped that like the Wolf of Gubbio, your dog, too, will one day come to his senses and learn to keep his drooling carcass off the living-room couch.

Around here, at least, we continue to live in hope.

Uh . . . nothing being bought or sold in this post. No money-changing. No animals for sacrifice (yet). Don’t know how to rate that.

More on: Relics

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