Miracles were once frequent phenomena that confirmed the validity of Christian teachings. According to the Christian faith, God’s purpose in performing miracles was to convince disbelievers of the divine appointment of the perpetrators of these miracles, and thereby proving the reliability of their claims and teachings. In fact, for Christian authorities, a miracle was not really considered a miracle unless it helped prove the truth of the Christian religion.
Thus, it is not surprising that the history of Christianity overflows with claims of miraculous events, and some of them are not just performed by Jesus and the saints, but also by several holy items. Many of these relics are believed to have been preserved since biblical times in hidden places, only to be miraculously discovered later on by devout Christians.
Setting aside the prevailing doubt surrounding such holy items, here are five Christian relics that supposedly have miraculous as well as supernatural powers.
1. THE MIRACULOUS MEDAL OF THE OUR LADY OF GRACES
The first relic on this list is the Miraculous Medal. Also known as the Medal of the Our Lady of Graces, the Miraculous Medal was created in response to a supposed request from the Blessed Virgin Mary herself. The design was originated by Saint Catherine Labouré after her apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Rue du Bac, Paris, France. Mary told her that those who wear the medal would receive great graces, especially if they wear it around the neck.
After two years of investigation and observation of Saint Catherine, the request to design the Miraculous Medal was approved and was produced by the goldsmith Adrien Vachette.
The first medals were made in 1832 and were distributed in Paris. As the story goes, the blessing that Mary had promised began to shower down almost immediately on those who wore the medal, and soon, the people of France clamored to have what they called the “Miraculous Medal.” Since then, the use of the medal has spread in different parts of the world, and until now, there are devout Christians who continue to wear the Miraculous Medal around their neck and claim to receive the special graces from God for the body and the soul.
2. THE MIRACULOUS IMAGE OF OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE
The Miraculous Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe had been the subject of many technical studies since 1751 and extensive scientific evaluations in recent years. However, up to this very day, this relic has continued to baffle science, human reasoning and even some skeptics.
The Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which marks the day when the Blessed Mother appeared to a 57-year-old peasant named Juan Diego in Mexico back in 1531. According to the earliest reliable account of the story, the Virgin Mary appeared several times before Juan Diego. The surface of his “tilma” – a burlap-type cloak – which bore the image of the Blessed Mother, served as proof of what he had seen. This image on his “tilma” came to be known as “Our Lady of Guadalupe.”
The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, until now, continues to be a relic of awe and mystery. According to some experts, this relic possesses qualities that are humanly impossible to replicate. Many duplicates of the image were made to verify the validity of this supposedly miraculous relic, and while the duplicates have deteriorated over a short period of time, the original image has endured until now and remained in a state of perfect condition.
The “tilma” featuring the image of the Virgin Mary is also believed to be virtually indestructible, having survived two instances that should have completely destroyed the image. For example, in 1921, an anti-clerical activist hid a bomb inside the Basilica at Guadalupe. When the bomb exploded, almost everything was broken except the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The only damage that occurred in close proximity to the “tilma” was a brass crucifix that got twisted and bent back by the blast.
3. THE BLOOD OF SAINT JANUARIUS
The third relic on this list is the Blood of Saint Januarius. In the very early fourth century, Saint Januarius was a bishop of Beneventum in Italy who died a martyr during the bloody persecution of Emperor Diocletian.
A relic of his dried blood has been preserved to this day and is kept in the cathedral of Naples, where he is the patron saint. In what appears to be a miracle, the blood liquefies on its own on three separate occasions each year, and thousands of people assemble to witness this miracle in Naples Cathedral three times a year.
On rare occasions that the blood of Saint Januarius fails to liquefy, it has historically been attached to an impending calamity. The last time the miracle of blood liquefication failed to occur was in 1980, and the people of Naples associated it with the earthquake of Irpinia during which 2,900 people died in what is considered to be the worst natural disaster in Italian post-war history. In 1973, the blood also failed to liquefy, and believers connected it with a cholera epidemic that visited Naples that year.
Scarily enough, for the first time in 36 years, the blood of Saint Januarius did not liquefy in the city’s cathedral last year in December. To many people of Naples, the blood remaining solid is considered a premonition of evil.
4. THE HOLY LANCE/THE SPEAR OF DESTINY
The Holy Lance. In Christian tradition, the Holy Lance, also known as the Spear of Destiny, is the spear believed to be the one the Roman soldier Longinus used to pierce the side of Jesus as he hung on the cross.
Christian knights discovered the Holy Lance at Antioch during the First Crusade in 1098. As the story goes, the sight of the sacred relic in the Church of St. Peter inspired the beleaguered Christian soldiers and they successfully routed the Saracens from the city. According to legend, whoever claims the spear and uncovers the secrets it holds will possess supernatural powers that will enable him to conquer the world.
There are currently several relics in various European churches that claim to be the genuine Holy Lance. However, the spear that is on display in the Hapsburg Treasure House Museum in Vienna has been considered the most authentic one.
This particular relic was also known as Constantine’s Lance, and it was used as a symbol of the imperial power of Holy Roman emperors during their coronation. The lance is also believed by some to have been possessed by a series of successful military leaders, including Theodosius, Charles Martel, Charlemagne and Frederick Barbarossa. There is also a theory claiming that Hitler took possession of the Spear of Destiny at some point during his most successful military campaigns.
5. THE HOLY GRAIL
Last but certainly not the least: at number 5, the Holy Grail. Most people identify a single chalice as the only Holy Grail. However, there are those who have pointed out that European legends about this special cup during the 12th to 15th centuries enumerated more than ten different Holy Grails.
In the Christian faith, the Holy Grail is identified as a serving dish or a chalice that was used by Jesus during the Last Supper. This chalice is also considered as the vessel that Joseph of Arimathea used to catch the blood and sweat of the Messiah in after he was taken down from the Cross.
As the story goes, Joseph of Arimathea was imprisoned for several years for expressing his faith in Jesus as the Messiah and the son of God. After he was released, he traveled to Britain and took the grail with him, and when he died, the grail was passed on to his descendants. According to legend, the Holy Grail provided magical qualities to the righteous if they drink or eat from it, or even by just touching it. Its miraculous powers are believed to be capable of healing and enlightening people, and possibly even making them immortal.
The legend of the Holy Grail has been perpetuated through literature since the 12th century, specifically in tales which involve the knights of Camelot who served the legendary King Arthur of Britain. In modern times, this special chalice has been the subject of blockbuster films like “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” thrusting the legend of the magical cup back to people’s consciousness.
There are many relics associated with Jesus and the Christian faith which have been claimed and displayed throughout the history of Christianity. The authenticity of many of these relics as well as their supposed miraculous and supernatural powers are still heavily disputed until now. However, the firmness in the faith and belief of those who are devoted to these relics and the miracles they are thought capable of performing should not be so easily taken for granted by science or by skeptics.
Nevertheless, it is important to remember that in the Christian faith, homage or respect is not really paid to inanimate objects like relics, but to the holy person they’re connected with. And the veneration of that holy person is itself an honor paid to God. As such, the miracles and cures attributed to these relics are not because of their own power but because of the holiness of the person they represent.