Jesus Relics at Church: 5th Century Veil of Mary on Display

A Roman Catholic church in Chicago will celebrate its 155th year anniversary in a special way this year, with relics that are said to have been brought from the original manger where Jesus was born.

The veil of the Virgin Mary and a thread belonging to the cloak of St. Joseph have been donated to the Holy Family Church in Chicago, in honor of their 155th year. To celebrate, the church will put the relics on display beginning on Sunday.

The relics were brought from the Holy Land during the 5th Century, according to Rev. Jeremiah J. Boland, who is an administrator at the church. They were released by the Vatican in 1972 and given to Holy Family by the Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii, another local Chicago church, according to Reuters.

The relics have not and will not undergo any form of carbon testing Boland relayed, because the church is "not interested" in that method of testing.

"The Vatican has its own process to determine the authenticity of things," Boland said. "I'm more concerned with it as an object of faith."

Boland suggested that the authenticity of the relics had little to do with science and everything to do with faith.

"One could argue how real the relics of Mary or Joseph are, but there were all sorts of objects over the centuries that have been venerated and are based on faith rather than on scientific explanation," he said, according to Reuters.

The gift of the relics "is a healing gesture," Boland suggested. They will be put on display in a crystal reliquary, where relics of others saints are also preserved. The Holy family was built from 1857-1860 and is one of five buildings that survived the 1871 Great Chicago Fire.

The church is the second oldest in Chicago and has survived a number of tumultuous times.