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I found the silver wedding band that belonged to a deceased nun. I do not know the family, but her name is engraved inside and dated 2-12-46.

What does the Church teach about the sacramental status of these objects and how can I avoid blasphemy while possessing them?

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    Hi Sue, welcome to the site and thanks for asking a question here. As long as this question doesn't fit the criteria of personal advice I think it's fair game to ask here. You might want to rephrase the question to make it less personal, but I think it's a fair thing to ask. Were you thinking that the ring is a sacramental that should be disposed of like broken rosaries, scapulars etc... or were you worried that selling it or giving it away would be blasphemy?
    – Peter Turner
    Oct 24 '17 at 14:16
  • Hi Pete, Sorry if I didn’t phrase the question correctly. Yes, I’m concerned about blasphemy. Thank you.
    – Sue Smith
    Oct 24 '17 at 15:56
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    no problem I think this is one of the first really interesting questions I've read on the site in a while and I wanted to help keep it from getting closed. If my edits aren't what you wanted, let me know in a comment or roll them back or change them by clicking "edit" .
    – Peter Turner
    Oct 24 '17 at 16:23
  • You may keep the ring if reverently done so. You may return it to the Church in one way or anther but you must not sell it. If given back to the Church it must be freely done so. Please keep in mind that even if she is no longer a nun the ring has been blessed and is a valid sacramental.
    – Ken Graham
    Oct 29 '17 at 12:02
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From what I've read, I think that the wedding band given to a consecrated religious sister is given to her for the same reason it is given to a married laywoman.

Womanhood is fulfilled quite as perfectly in a life of virginal chastity as in human marriage. And that is why the Church's ancient and elaborate ceremonial for the consecration of virgins has for its climax the placing of a wedding ring on the finger of the newly professed nun. "Receive this ring that marks you as a bride of God." She is wedded to Christ. And the union is fecund with souls.

The Cloistered Life of a Poor Clare

And, if so, I think it would have the same sacramental status as a wedding band. Catholic radio host and author Lisa Duffy, writing for the The Catholic Match Institute, says:

Therefore, the Church does not mandate that wedding rings must be kept or cannot be sold. What happens to a wedding ring is a very personal decision and is left up to the spouse who remains in possession of it

and with regards to selling it, she quotes the Catechism's part on the sin of simony saying that you can't sell it as a magic totem or that it's better because it was a nun's ring (historical reasons may increase the value, but not spiritual reasons).

My first instinct reading your question was that it should be melted down and disposed of on holy ground like you would with the ashes from old palms or busted blessed scapulars. But maybe that isn't the case for wedding rings.

The Church provides us with sacramentals (primarily articles that have been blessed, such as rosaries, crucifixes, holy cards, etc. but can also be prayers), for the purposes of instilling piety in the one who possesses them.

So the blessing is on the person who holds the ring and the ring, it's not on the ring itself.

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  • Thank you everyone for your input, I really appreciate it.
    – Sue Smith
    Oct 28 '17 at 22:57
  • From what I understand, I have three options.
    – Sue Smith
    Oct 28 '17 at 22:58
  • 1). Keep the ring and have piety.
    – Sue Smith
    Oct 28 '17 at 22:58
  • 2). Sell or give away the ring with no guilt. 3) No need to melt it and bury it.
    – Sue Smith
    Oct 28 '17 at 23:01
  • @SueSmith You ought to double-check with a priest or other authority figure in the Catholic Church before taking any action, but yes, that seems to be the conclusion this answer provides. Oct 28 '17 at 23:32
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The answer to this question has to do with the two types of blessings and it seems that wedding rings fall under invocative blessings because they are not being blessed to be set aside for liturgical use. So you can sell or give away a wedding ring because it is an outward sign of the marriage bond and is no longer serving that function.

Also if she was a nun I would be curious if it was a wedding ring. Was she a widow?

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    > Womanhood is fulfilled quite as perfectly in a life of virginal chastity as in human marriage. And that is why the Church's ancient and elaborate ceremonial for the consecration of virgins has for its climax the placing of a wedding ring on the finger of the newly professed nun. "Receive this ring that marks you as a bride of God."She is wedded to Christ. And the union is fecund with souls. ewtn.com/library/PRIESTS/CLOISTER.TXT
    – Peter Turner
    Oct 24 '17 at 17:40
  • I’m sorry, but I’m confused. She was a nun and was never married, except to God. Are you saying because she died.
    – Sue Smith
    Oct 24 '17 at 18:29
  • Sorry, but the wrong button. ...she is no longer married to God?
    – Sue Smith
    Oct 24 '17 at 18:41
  • I did know that tradition, but when the only phrase is "wedding band" it is unclear the situation. Some clarification in the question would help. I am not saying she is no longer married to God, I am saying the ring no longer fully represents that as she is not wearing it. A ring does not constitute the symbol of marriage, the wearing of it with intentionality and fulfillment of vocation does.
    – J. Tate
    Oct 24 '17 at 20:59
  • And what are you concerned with when you say "avoiding blasphemy"? Are you planning to desecrate the ring somehow? Please add clarification to your initial question.
    – J. Tate
    Oct 24 '17 at 21:00
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I am going to give an answer, contrary to what I would normally do. That is to say without sources because this will be too long for a comment, yet based on personal experience in handling many different types of sacramentals.

Many priests I know wear the rings of their father when they die, while others have the ring(s) of either of their parents placed into the foot of the chalice they are to receive for ordination (if either one dies prior to his ordination).

Chalice of a priest

As you can see, rings can be easily fixed to the narrowest part of a chalice. Some chalices are able to be taken apart simply by turning the cup and foot in opposite directions. Others are made in one piece.

Not knowing the history of the ring in question, one would have to treat it with respect for what it stands for.

Here are a few suggestions I would like to put forth as in reverently disposing rings or any other blessed sacramentals of the Church.

They can be given (not sold) to someone to be placed on a chalice or melted down to be added to the metal used in a new chalice. I know of some religious who place such objects in the foundations of new churches. If the sacramental (blessing) value has not been comprised, then this is a reverent way of disposing of a nun's wedding bands. Thus it has been returned to the Church.

As long as you treat the nun's wedding ring with respect, there is no sin or blasphemy in possessing the ring, but I would highly recommend that it finds its way "home" in one form or another.

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