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11-30-02: Center completes major relic refurbishing
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 encompassing.
    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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