According to the 1980 edition of Modern Catholic Dictionary by S.D. John A. Hardon, S.J., a relic is defined as follows:

An object connected with a saint, e.g., part of the body or clothing or something the person had used or touched. Authentic relics are venerated with the Church's warm approbation. They may not be bought or sold. Those of a martyr are placed in the altar stone at the consecration of an altar. Relics are of three classes: the first is part of the saint's body and is the type placed in the altar stone; the second is part of the clothing or anything used during the saint's life; and the third is any other object, such as a piece of cloth, that has been touched to a first-class relic.

I purchased the aforementioned dictionary from a second-hand book seller by mail and it arrived yesterday. I marvelled at the very good condition that the book was in for its age, except for a signed note that was handwritten on the first blank page.

When I later took a look at the note, I saw that it had been written and signed by "John A. Hardon, S.J."

His cause for Sainthood has already been opened; and so, Fr. Hardon is officially recognized by that Catholic Church as a Servant of God.

Question: Though S.D. John A. Hardon has not been declared a Saint yet by the Church, and though the book which contains his signed handwritten note was purchased by me (not expecting such a note), may this book still be considered to be a relic of his? If so, should I have it blessed by a Catholic priest?

1 Answer 1


Would This Book be Considered a Relic of S.D. John A. Hardon, SJ?

The short answer is no.

First of to be considered a relic the individual must be beatified. To treat something as a relic before this would be to accord a privilege to someone that does not deserve it according to the mind of the Church.

Second point is that a second class relic of a blessed or saint must be of something the individual owned or possessed during his or her life. Sorry to inform you that signatures do not make something a possible future relic. Still cool to have possession of such an item, so do not lose it.

The book you received must be proven without a doubt that it was a personal copy owned by Fr. Hardon SJ to be considered a relic and then only after his beatification.

First and second relics are forbidden to be sold!

First Class Relics

First class relics are the earthly mortal remains of saints, and are classified as being sacred relics. These remains could be any part of the body, be it bone, flesh (either skin or organs), and even hair.

As remains are considered to be precious and sacred relics, the Church has prohibited the sale of any first class relics. Custodians of first class relics are usually members of Faith Communities, or historical organizations such as Museums, rarely if ever, are first class relics entrusted to individuals.

Second Class Relics

A second class relic differs from the first class, in that they are the possessions or tools that were owned or used by a saint during their lifetime. Items such as articles of clothing, vestments, jewelry, scepters, bibles, and hand tools, could all be considered to be second class relics, so long as they were used by a saint.

In the case of a martyr, the instruments of their demise may also be considered a second class relic. The tools used in the process of torturing or executing the saint, though morbid to some, can be just as powerful as a ring worn by a saint. This can extend to the wood used to make the cross to which they may have been crucified on, the rope they may have been hung with, or even the ashes from when they were burned at the stack, such as Joan of Arc.

Third Class Relics

Third class relics are the only form of relic that the Church permits for sale. A third class relic is any item, new or old, that has made contact with the remains of a saint, or pressed against their tomb or reliquary; in other words a first class relic. This could include burial cloths that were used during their funeral process, the soil from which they were buried in, the remains of their casket, or newer items such as cloths, pendants, or mantillas, that have been blessed by God when placed against the first class relic.

Third class relics are worn, carried, or kept in the home, for protection, divine guidance, and assistance from their patron saint.

Catholic Relics

You remain free to have the book blessed by a priest as it would be considered a religious object!

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .