Posted by: anna | July 18, 2009

New Martyr Elizabeth

St Elizabeth’s story is a terrible and inspiring one. Her relics have been brought to England (for the first time, I think) and services will be held today and tomorrow at the Russian cathedral in Ennismore Gardens. This makes me think about relics. I’ve had this explained to me, and I certainly appreciate the Orthodox understanding of the integrity of body and soul, but I still don’t understand what use relics are, spiritually. Why do we need them? And how is breaking up someone’s earthly remains and depositing bits of them here and there respectful? There is not much dignity about earthly decay, unless it is undisturbed in some peaceful churchyard.

St Justin Popovich explains (quick google there) that the human body, already made as part of God’s image and its remains already revered in the Old Testament, is truly holy through the nature of Christ, truly God and truly man, and that Jesus’ resurrection, transfiguration and ascension show for every human being that ‘holiness completely envelops the human person—the entire soul and body and all that enters into the mystical composition of the human body.’ So it certainly makes sense that the body of any person, particularly a saint, is not dust alone when the person has ended this earthly life – it is certainly not something to be discarded or treated with anything less than respect. There are some whole relics, St Herman of Alaska, for instance. This bothers me a lot less than knucklebones in gold cups, etc.

I have some way to go toward miraculous relics and their veneration, though.

Holy St Elizabeth, pray to God for us.


  1. Wow, I didn't know her relics were being brought to England. I hope you were able to venerate them.

    Holy St. Elizabeth, pray to God for us.

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