Relics curate to show extraordinary collection at local parishes
By Julie Filby
Father Carlos Martins, CC, a former atheist, has never searched for saint relics; they find him.
In 14 years since his conversion to Catholicism, the Companions of the Cross priest has amassed a collection of relics numbering several thousand. Physical remains and personal effects of saints have come to him through retiring clergy, religious orders who seek his help in spreading devotion to a particular saint, and individuals who come across relics and simply don’t know what to do with them.
Starting today, Father Martins will share a portion of this collection, and a message of evangelization and healing, with Catholics in northern Colorado through his ministry Treasures of the Church.
“I never set out to do this … to assemble a collection like this was never a goal in my mind,” Father Martins told the Denver Catholic Register. “Nevertheless, relics came into my possession with regularity.”
He felt it was the hand of God at work, so he asked God for guidance on how to proceed.
“‘Evangelization’ was the answer I heard,” he said. “Around the same time I held an exposition at the parish … the event was an overwhelming success. Many, many people attended.
“The incarnation of the Lord’s prompting me to evangelize with the relics was right before my eyes,” he said. “I had found my format.”
The exposition involves some 150 relics including those of St. Maria Goretti, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Faustina Kowalska. The collection is highlighted by one of the largest relics of the True Cross and a piece of the veil that, according to sanctioned tradition, is believed to have belonged to the Blessed Mother.
Father Martins begins each exposition with a presentation that provides the catechetical and spiritual basis for the “Walk with the Saints” (time of veneration) that follows.
“(The teaching presents) … the basic Gospel message of Jesus Christ: that God is here right now and wants to be encountered,” he said. “He touches us through the lives and the sacred remains of his saints.”
He said many healings, both physical and spiritual, have been reported to the ministry; and he encourages people to bring the sick and infirmed to the exposition.
“God never disappoints ... he always ‘shows up,’” he said. “The most spectacular (healings) are the healings of faith where new and deeper relationships with God and his saints are formed in the faithful.
“It is a most wonderful thing to see a parish or school renewed after an exposition,” he said.
Father Martins holds the title Custos Reliquiarum (Curate of Relics) from the Church, signifying that he is an authority related to the assembly, liturgical and devotional use of relics; care and repair of reliquaries; and the legislation of the use of relics in the Church.
“Years ago I began to be consulted by dioceses for issues that came come up in the area of relics,” he said. “Word spread and I became a frequently used resource; there are very few of us, I only know of one other in North America.”
Treasures of the Church will visit seven parishes in the Denver Archdiocese (see box below for details) from today through Dec. 17. There is no charge for the event. For more information, call the parish or visit www.treasuresof thechurch.com.
"Treasures of the Church" Colorado Tour Schedule
An encounter with relics
Presented by: Father Carlos Martins, CC
Cost: No cost, freewill donations
Questions: Call parish (see below)
6 p.m., Dec. 7
St. Peter, Greeley
7 p.m., Dec. 8
Blessed John XXIII, Fort Collins
7 p.m., Dec. 12
Immaculate Heart of Mary, Northglenn
7 p.m., Dec. 13
Sacred Heart of Mary, Boulder
7:30 p.m., Dec. 15
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Fort Collins
7 p.m., Dec. 16
St. Joseph, Fort Collins
1 p.m. and 7 p.m., Dec. 17
St. Thomas More, Centennial
Outside Denver Archdiocese:
2 p.m., Dec. 10
St. Laurence O’Toole, Laramie, Wyo.