Learn About Relics and Artifacts

Ex carne – from the flesh

Ex cineribus – from the ashes

Ex ligneo pulvere, Mixto pulveri corporis, Quem residuum continebat prima capsa funeralis – from the remains of the wood, mixed with the dust of the body, the residue of which was contained in the first box, [or sarcophagus]

Ex ossibus – from the bones

Ex praecordis – from the stomach or intestines

Ex pelle – from the skin.

Coronse spinse D.N.J.C. – Crown of Thorns of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Other Designations

De velo – from the veil

Domini Nostri Jesu Christi, D.N.J.C. – Our Lord Jesus Christ

Domo – house
Ex bireto – from the biretta

Ex inducio – from covering

Ex indulmentis – from the clothing

Ex praesepis – birthplace of D.N.J.C.

Ex pluviali – cope

Ex Sindone – from the shroud

Ex sportula – from the little basket Ex stipite affixionis – from the whipping post

Ex strato – from the covering [ blanket ]

Ex subicula – from the yoke – amice,stole Ex tela serica quae tetigit cor – from the silk cloth which touched the heart

Ex tunica – from the tunic

The Sale of “Relics”

What’s OK – From time to time you’ll come across holy cards and medals that are described as “relics” — they are not.

They are more appropriately termed mementos. These generally contain little bits of cloth that may or may not have been touched to a third class relic — which is, in itself, something that has been touched to a first or second class relic.

These objects find use in promoting devotions to a particular Saint when a member of the faithful is seeking intercessory prayer.

A great many older objects of this sort were actually distributed by the religious communities that the individuals belonged to. These are permitted for sale.

Among modern objects of this type, most are manufactured in Chinaand imported by the bigger religious goods houses, like Autom.  Many are imprinted with the term Ex Indulmentis. We seriously doubt that they have any notion of what the phrase means, much less that they have the capacity to legitimately manufacture them.

Example of Made in China “relics” offered by Autom.

“Relic” Holy Medals and Cards

This is medal was listed as a relic of Saint  Michael. The medal itself is stamped Ex Indulmentis, which indicates that it is a piece of the Saint’s garment. This is, of course, ridiculous as St. Michael is a pure spirit and did not leave behind any garments.

Not even a feather.

One of the more commonly found holy medals marked Ex Indulmentis, this one is in honor of Saint Benedict.  Considering he died a few hundred years ago, this bit of cloth looks suspiciously fresh and modern.

This is not something to report.

Here is a nice prayer card in honor of Saint Joseph. We don’t really know if Saint Joseph left anything behind, but if he did, it certainly wasn’t the tiny bit of cloth that is laminated in this commercially produced holy card. Nonetheless, it promotes devotion to Saint Joseph and that in itself is worthwhile.

Below is an example of an older holy card with a bit of cloth that may actually be Ex Indulmentis. This is typical of the holy cards that were distributed by those who had an interest in promoting the cause of the servant of God.

Again, this is not something to report. There is a concern that the second card might fall into the wrong hands, but in all probability, it will go to someone with a devotion to the community or individual.


This seller lists statues and objects such as this one which are readily available through the commercial vendor Autom.

Again, these are all items that are manufactured in China.

Not something to report, although if you are so inclined, you might want to contact the seller to tell her that this is just plain silly, not to mention dishonest.

But be nice about it.

To the left is what the seller claims in the ad:

Giving this individual the benefit of the doubt, we would like to think that they are well intentioned and are looking for a new way to promote devotions to the Cross and the Saints.

“This wooden True Cross Relic Crucifix is also an unusual sacramental because it is the Cross itself that is the 3rd class relic! That is, the Cross doesn’t contain a relic, the Cross itself is the relic! This wooden Crucifix has been touched several times by a True Cross Relic! The Relic has been applied to the Cross at the four ends and the intersection. The figure of Christ has not been touched. This True Cross Relic Crucifix is a Help in Your Prayer and Spiritual Life! The base of this Relic Cross is actually a box which contains 11 Holy Medals of the Saints.

When offering prayer to Christ through any one armor of these saints, the medals are suspended from the horizontal beam. The Holy Medals are not Relics. Medals vary; we cannot grant special requests for medals. On the back of the True Cross Crucifix is a seal identifying the Cross as a Relic of the Third Class.

Also with the Cross is a document that certifies and describes its Relic status. This Cross is made of stained wood. This is a wonderful Relic to have!”

Tasteless, but not reportable. There are several eBay members who have created a variety of charm bracelets complete with an assortment of relic medals intermixed with other baubles. There are “Good Friday” charm bracelets and also “Juicy Ish Love of Jesus Charm Bracelet” – Juicy-Ish?

For the most part, we are sure that these people are well intentioned, and are perhaps looking for another means of promoting the faith. Well intentioned, but misguided.

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Christine Hirschfeld

I never intended to run a Catholic antiquities and book business. Not in a million years. As a cradle Catholic, I grew up in a house that was filled with Catholic images and sacramentals not to mention an abundance of excellent books provided by family members who worked in publishing houses famous for their Catholic catalogues. The beautiful images and concepts presented in those books certainly had their effect in enhancing my identity as a Catholic. As the years passed, even in the midst of very un-Catholic settings, I became a repository for my friends’ Catholic “found objects.” Eventually, I had a family of my own. We’re a small family. There are just three of us. And two of us were born with the “junk collecting gene.” Garage sales attracted us like a magnet.
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