A rare Roman Catholic calendar containing the relics of 365 saints, including that of a cross symbolizing the Passion of Jesus Christ, has been discovered in Buffalo, New York, over a century after it was lost.
The inscriptions on the calendar were translated by two Latin experts, Buffalo News shared. The days of the year, each with a saint’s relic labeled in antiqued script, surrounds the cross that is situated in the middle of the calendar.
The central image bears the inscription “In Hoc Vinces," or "In this [sign] you conquer," and features a number of fragments from Christ’s crucifixion – including the Crown of Thorns that the Roman soldiers made Jesus wear. Also shown is the sponge that they moistened His lips, the garments that they divided amongst themselves and gambled for, the purple robe placed on Jesus during his Passion, and the Shroud in which He was buried.
Sister Amadori, an archivist, found the relic while she was looking through the archives of the sisters' main convent, which is now in Clarence, NY.
"I thought, 'What is this?’" she said, referring to the 2 by 3 feet piece she found inside an ornate antique frame. A handwritten note at the back was attached, revealing that it had been placed in the care of the nuns by the Catholic diocese.
The Sister contacted Monsignor James F. Campbell of St. Joseph's Cathedral in Buffalo, which now hosts the reliquary. He revealed that the artifact came from Rome, saying, "Rome goes back a long way. And they have relics of all of those saints."
"I had never seen anything like this," he continued, after examining the relic in his office. "I had never even heard about it."
Based on research by the diocese, the Vatican and Pope Pius IX gifted the relic to Bishop John Timon from Buffalo’s first-ever Catholic diocese, somewhere in the 1850s or early 1860s.
"This reliquary speaks to the prestige of Bishop Timon at the time. And Pope Pius giving him this gift, that's the real story," Campbell said.
It is not clear what precisely happened to the relic after Bishop Timon passed away in April 1867. All that is known is that it was given to the Sisters of Saint Joseph, so that they would keep it safe while a new cathedral was built, Campbell explained.
"It may have been venerated back when we first got it," Sister Amadori expressed. "But since then, we've moved from Main Street. It was just tucked away in a corner."