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|11-30-02: Center completes major relic refurbishing
|By JANIE SOUTHARD
The Daily Standard
MARIA STEIN - For the first time in more than a century, relics of
saints in the Shrine of the Holy Relics at the Maria Stein Center were removed and later
resealed into their individual reliquaries as the interior renovation at both the Relic
and Eucharistic Chapels at the center is completed.
Opening, cleaning and resealing the more than 600 reliquaries has been
quite a process, Sister Barbara Ann Hoying recently told The Daily Standard during a tour
of the chapels. The chapels are located inside the Maria Stein Center, which is the former
convent of the Sisters of the Precious Blood located along St. Johns Road.
Reliquaries are the often elaborate containers where the usually small
sealed cases of first- and second-class relics of saints rest. The original motherhouse of
the Sisters of the Precious Blood in Maria Stein houses the second largest collection of
relics in the United States. (The largest, St. Anthony's Chapel in Pittsburgh, Pa.,
displays more that 4,200 relics under one roof.)
"A first-class relic is of the body of a saint, for example a bone
fragment or hair. A second-class relic is something from the life of a saint, parts of
clothing, the crib of Jesus," Hoying explained.
The exterior and interior renovation of the center has been on-going
for the past two years and includes a new reception area, a larger gift shop, a reading
room, public restrooms, conference room and an elevator among other projects.
But the cleaning and documentation of the relics has been the most
Twenty or more people worked on opening the reliquaries, which were
shipped for cleaning to Conrad Schmitt Studios near Milwaukee, Wisc. The actual relics in
their cases were stored at the center.
The vacant display cases were cleaned, painted and relined, and new
fiber optic lighting was added. In early September, the relics were placed back into their
reliquaries ready for the visit of the Rev. Christopher Armstrong of the Cincinnati
Archdiocese who performed the resealing.
The high point of the relics removal, Hoying said, was the opening of
the St. Victoria case, which contained a wax figure covering several bones of this saint.
Housed within a side altar, the front glass in the St. Victoria case
had become cloudy. When the side altar was removed, the sealed locks on the glass and wood
case were revealed and opened permitting a thorough cleaning of the large display case.
"Not much is known about St. Victoria. She lived in the 3rd
century and was originally buried in the catacombs in Rome," Hoying said.
Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk resealed the St. Victoria relic at
invitation-only ceremonies in late November at the relic shrine.
The sisters will host an open house for the public to see the
renovations on Dec. 7 and 8 from noon to 4 p.m.
Tours will be conducted of the chapels and Heritage Museum, which
features several displays on canals and railroads of Ohio. The refurbished reliquaries
also will be displayed, and the Pilgrim Gift Shop will be open, featuring numerous
Christmas items and religious gifts.
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