St. Junipero Serra relic to be placed in Christ Cathedral’s altar

Thanks to a generous parishioner, the Diocese of Orange holds a first-class relic of the man who was instrumental in establishing Catholicism in California

A statue of St. Junipero Serra sits among flowers outside San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo Mission in Carmel, CA. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

Catholic saints forever serve as examples of faith. Their lives were rooted in Christ: all that He taught and all that He ultimately sacrificed for the world. As such, history has shown that the saints did the same. 

The relics of these saints and martyrs serve as tangible connections to them. Millions throughout the world revere what they owned and touched. But the actual body parts, known as first-class relics, are held in greatest esteem. 

Thanks to a generous parishioner, the Diocese now holds a first-class relic of the man who, more than anyone, was instrumental in establishing Catholicism in California: St. Junipero Serra. The origins of the Diocese and the foundation of the Catholic way in Orange County are a result of his extraordinary work. St. Serra founded nine of the 21 Catholic missions in what was known as Alta California. One of these, Mission San Juan Capistrano, is home to the Serra Chapel, built in 1783. 

“It’s the only surviving chapel where St. Serra celebrated mass,” says Lesa Truxaw, director of the Diocese’s Office for Worship. “The Mission is obviously a significant place in local Catholic history.” 

The revamped Christ Cathedral’s 14,000-pound stone altar will soon be home to St. Serra’s relic, along with the relics of others. 

“The relics will be placed in the altar during Christ Cathedral’s dedication Mass, just before the altar is anointed,” Truxaw says. (The Mass will be an important element of the Cathedral’s dedication, to take place on July 17.) “Each of the relics will have its own ‘mini-case.’ They’ll all be placed in one cedar box that will be installed in the reliquary attached to the altar. 

“While many churches have relics,” Truxaw adds, “what’s significant about the St. Serra relic is its historical nature, and the fact that we have the relics of martyrs. That’s unusual.” 

Before being permanently placed in Christ Cathedral’s altar, the relics will go on a local pilgrimage to all of the Diocese’s parishes. 

To acknowledge St. Serra’s influence, particularly in Orange County, Bishop Kevin Vann has made St. Serra’s July 1 memorial (Serra’s birthday) “obligatory.” 

“Not all memorials are obligatory,” Truxaw says. “Bishop Vann decided to do this because of the importance of St. Serra in local Catholic history.” 

Full story at OC Catholic.

Comments

  1. Clinton R. says

    May St. Junipero Serra pray for us, pray for this God less state to come to Christ and His Holy Catholic Church. And may St. Junipero pray for the end to the evil of abortion. +JMJ+

  2. I think we need to do forensics on these “relics” to know if they are authentic bones cut out of his body!

    • Fra. Mendel says

      To do that the DNA must still active enough to be able to render a workable sample.

      Evev if extracted DNA was viable, you must have a living relative to do the comparison.

      Before making such outrageous conclusions, know your science first.

  3. Robert Lockwood says

    I honor Saint Serra but but not the Cathedral.

  4. I agree with Jack R. I wonder if these relics would pass a ‘chain of custody’ in a criminal evidenciary sense. Or am I watching too many cop TV shows.

    • Anonymous says

      The body was exhumed as part of the process leading to canonization to verify the remains and extract some bones for purposes such as this. You can see the tomb in the mission Church in Carmel California. I’m not even sure why this is in any doubt – except by those who want to cast doubt on the Church and her Saints, and therefore put into doubt the saving work of Christ himself.

  5. Anonymous says

    If you assembled all the splinter relics of the True Cross, they would be more massive than a California Redwood tree.

    • Tom Byrne says

      Nope. A French scientist of the 19th century already did that work: the surviving splinters make up just few pounds, far below the mass of a physical cross capable of supporting a man’s weight.

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