In the Catholic Church, relics occupy an important place because they are considered sacred objects that allow believers to come closer to holiness. However, it is essential to verify the authenticity of the relics to ensure that they are indeed from the revered saint. The process of identifying relics is therefore crucial to ensuring their spiritual value and respect.
The process of identifying relics often begins with an investigation of the object's history and provenance. Historical documents such as letters, inventories and registers can provide important information about the provenance of relics. Investigators are also examining images, engravings and portraits of the saint, as well as eyewitness accounts, to determine the origin of the relics.
In addition, specialists examine the chemical and physical composition of the relics to ensure that they come from the body of the revered saint. To do this, scientific methods such as radiographic imaging, carbon-14 analysis and microscopic analysis can be used. DNA analysis is also increasingly common to identify relics, but it cannot be used in all cases, especially if the relic is very old or damaged.
When investigators have gathered enough evidence to establish the authenticity of the relic, they can then officially confirm it. In the Catholic Church, confirmation of the authenticity of relics is usually carried out by the Vatican, which sends a commission of experts to examine the relics and issue a certificate of authenticity.
Once relics have been identified and confirmed as authentic, they are often placed in special shrines to protect and venerate them. Relics may be displayed during liturgical celebrations or processions, but they are generally kept safe and treated with respect.
However, it should be noted that verifying the authenticity of relics is a complex process and not all relics can be authenticated with certainty. In some cases, it can be difficult to determine the exact origin of a relic or to find sufficient evidence to confirm its authenticity. In these situations, the Church may decide not to recognize the relic as authentic.