Classification of relics

Wordrelic is derived from the Latin word relinquo - which means I leave, or I give up. The Church recognizes relics as being part of three different classes: first class, second class and third class. Some Catholics believe that there is a fourth class, distinct from the third.


Saint Yvon reliquary patron saint of lawyers at


First class relics:

First-class relics are the earthly mortal remains of saints, and are classed as sacred relics. These remains can be any part of the body, including bones, flesh (skin or organs), and even hair. Objects directly associated with events in the life of Christ (crib, cross, etc.) are also considered first-class relics.

  • ex ossibus - bones
  • ex raw - of the leg
  • ex brachio - arm
  • ex meat - flesh
  • ex corpore - from the body
  • ex praecordis - stomach or intestine
  • ex pili - hair (hair, beard or mustache)
  • ex cineribus - ashes (burnt martyr)
  • ex exuis - ashes or dust (collected on the slab of the martyrium)
  • ex tela blood imbuta - cloth soaked in blood
  • ex tela imbuta cineribus - ash-soaked cloth
  • ex lignum Crucis D.N.J.C. - wood from the cross of Domini Nostri Jesus Christi (Our Lord Jesus Christ)
  • ex rupe presepij - from the grotto of the Nativity
  • ex shovel - skin
  • ex blood - some blood
  • ex sindonis D.N.J.C. - the shroud of Domini Nostri Jesus Christi
  • ex sudarii - the shroud
  • Ex Arundine D.N.J.C. - of the cane of Our Lord Jesus Christ
  • Ex Bireto - from the biretta
  • Ex Petrae Calvariae - from the rock of Golgotha
  • Ex Coenaculum - from the place of the Last Supper
  • Ex Cincturae - of the Belt
  • Ex Cingendo (Ex Cingulo) - of the Belt
  • Clavus - sacred nail
  • Ex Colum. of the Flag. - of the Pillar of Flagellation
  • Ex Corona Spinensis (Coronse spinse) D.N.J.C. - the crown of thorns of Our Lord Jesus Christ
  • Ex lignum Crucis D.N.J.C. - Wood of the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ
  • SS. Crucis D.N.J.C. - the Most Holy Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ
    The relics of the true cross
  • Ex Cunis (Cunabulum) - from the Holy Crib of Our Lord.
  • Ex Domo - either the Domo Lauretana or the House of Ephesus.
  • Ex Fascia - from the band / from the scarf
  • Ex Fune - rope
  • Lancea Longini - the Holy Lance
  • Ex Lacte B.V.M. - milk of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Ex Mensa Ult. Cenae - from the Last Supper Table
  • Ex Praesepe D.N.J.C - particle of the grotto of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Ex Rupe M. Calvario D.N.J.C. - Particle of the Stone of Mount Calvary of Our Lord Jesus Christ
  • Ex Sindone D.N.J.C. - Shroud of Our Lord Jesus Christ (Turin, Constantinople)
  • Ex Sepulcro D.N.J.C. - Particle from the empty tomb of Our Lord Jesus Christ
  • De Sponga - particle of the Holy Sponge
  • Ex Stipite Affixionis - from the whipping post
  • Ex Sudarii - Cloth of Sweat (Shroud of Oviedo)
  • Ex Titulus D.N.J.C. - of the Titulus IESVS NAZARENVS REX IVDAEORVM which would have been affixed to the cross of Jesus.
  • Ex Velo - of the Protective Veil, Pokrov
  • Ex Alba Jacket - from the white garment of Our Lord.
  • Former Incons Jacket. - the seamless mantle of Our Lord
  • Ex Vinctum - robe or chain that bound Our Lord.


 first class ex ossibus relics of holy martyrs on


b) "Second class" relics

A second class relic differs from the first class, in that they are the possessions or tools that belonged to or were used by a saint during his lifetime. Items such as clothing, jewelry, scepters, bibles, and hand tools could all be considered second-class relics, as long as they were used by a saint.



 reliquary of the holy nail on


In the case of a martyr, the instruments of his demise can also be considered a second-class relic. The tools used in the process of torturing or executing the saint, while morbid to some, can be just as powerful as a ring worn by a saint. This may extend to the wood used to make the cross on which they may have been crucified, the rope with which they may have been hung, or even the ashes from when they were burned on the pile, such as Joan of Bow.

  • ex pallio - coat
  • ex bike - veil
  • ex indumentis - clothing (the expression sometimes refers to a third and fourth class relic)
  • ex arca sepulchralis - the sepulchral ark (tomb or quadrangular coffin in the shape of a chest and closed by a lid of various shapes)
  • ex cilicio - hair shirt
  • Ex arca sepulcrali - from a coffin
  • Ex baculo - from the stick
  • Ex bireto - from the beret
  • Ex calciamentum - shoes/sandals
  • Ex camiseta - from the shirt
  • Ex casula - from the grave
  • Ex cilitio (cilicum) - from the hair shawl
  • Ex domo - from home
  • Ex warp - rope
  • Ex Inducio - from the cover
  • Ex incunabula - from the cradle
  • Ex indumentis - of the garment
  • Ex ligno - wood
  • Ex linteis - fabric
  • Ex locii - of place, location
  • Ex pallio - from the pallium (omophor), a woolen coat
  • Ex pileolo - of a cap
  • Ex pluviali - screed
  • Ex praecepis - from the place of birth, from the manger
  • Ex scutello - from the shield
  • Ex sindone - from the shroud
  • Ex sportula - from the little basket
  • Ex stola - of the dress
  • Ex strato - from the envelope (cover)
  • Ex subuculi - from the undergarment, from the shirt
  • Ex tela serica quae tetigit cor - silk fabric that touched the heart
  • Ex tunica - from the tunic, from the garment
  • Ex bike - sailing
  • Ex velo que involuta (of the fabric that wrapped the relics)
  • Ex vessillo - from the mantle
  • Ex vestimentis - clothing
  • Ex vestibus - of clothing



 reliquary, relic ex tunica of saint tarcisius on


Third class relics:

Third-class relics are the only form of relics the Church allows for sale. A third-class relic is any object, new or old, which has been in contact with the remains of a saint, or which has been pressed against his tomb or reliquary; in other words, a first-class relic. These may be burial linens used at their funeral, the earth in which they were buried, the remains of their coffin, or more recent objects such as linens, pendants or mantillas, which have been blessed by God when placed against the first class relic.

Fourth class relics:

The debate over fourth-class relics comes from the inclusion of pieces of the saint's tombstone, if there was one, and objects that were pressed or rubbed on second-class relics. Some Catholics reject these relics outright as true relics, others consider them third class.