By: Jason Songe
There are 400 relics inside Notre Dame Seminary. They’re not in a reliquary, in the chapel, or in a display case, though.
They’re in the room of seminarian Damian Zablocki, who has been amassing a collection of mostly 1st class relics since 2006. That’s when he came into the Roman Catholic Church from the Russian Orthodox Church. He’s now a Byzantine Catholic studying for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans.
His notable relics follow. 1st class relics from St. Anne and Nicodemus, a rock from Calvary, a piece of the Bleesed Virgin Mary’s veil, and a piece of the last supper table.
So, how does one get started in this particular devotion to saints?
For Zablocki it was as simple as meeting people and sending letters. Laypeople would give him relics, as well as religious like the Carmelites, who once sent him a collection of relics from the major Carmelite saints. He sent letters to postulators for the beatification and canonization causes of different Catholics and often received relics in return. Zablocki said that about half were given to him and half were searched for.
Zablocki says a litany to the saints every day and will pray to specific saints for specific intentions of others, especially on a feast day.
He doesn’t believe he’d be at the seminary if it weren’t for the saints. Especially St. Francis of Assisi.
Before he converted he kept his first relic, of St. Francis, in his car. He had a three-day attack of appendicitis, and he had no health insurance. He was sitting in his car, preparing to go into work, and he prayed, “Please St. Francis, let me get through the day at work.”
“All of a sudden I fell asleep,” Zablocki recounted. “I woke up fifteen minutes later to my boss knocking on my window. The pain had gone away.”
As well as carriers of grace, Zablocki believes the relics remind us of how we should be virtuous but are not.
“The relics have to do what we’re supposed to be doing. They’re doing work that we as human beings should be doing ourselves.”
Zablocki has given away around 400 relics, including his recent donation to Our Lady of Holy Rosary Church in New Orleans. The church’s high altar now display’s Damian’s relics of St. Simon Stock, St. Clare of Assisi, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, and St. Josemaria Escriva.
“When people come along that I know will venerate them I’ll give them away.”
The church’s pastor, Fr. Jonathan Hemelt, wrote a letter to the parishioners informing them of the gift.
He wrote, “Having these relics on the altar is a reminder to us that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass unites us, the pilgrim people on earth, with the saints and angels in heaven, as we all give glory to God the Most High.”
Zablocki says that, in order for veneration of relics in the United States to increase, there must be a spiritual renewal.
“We’ve lost some of the mystery and some of the beauty of the miraculous and the traditions of the venerations of the saints. There’s a skepticism that I don’t find to be healthy,” Zablocki said.
Zablocki is in Fourth Theology, and he hopes to be ordained a deacon in May.
About the Author: Jason Songe
Jason is a seminarian in Pre-Theology 1.
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