In the God-Man, the Lord Christ, and His Body, all matter has been set on a path toward Christ —the path of deification, transfiguration, sanctification, resurrection, and ascent to an eternal glory surpassing that of the Cherubim. And all of this takes place and will continue to take place through the Divine and human Body of the Church, which is truly the God-Man Christ in the total fullness of His Divine and Human Person, the fullness “that fills all in all” (Eph. 1:23). Through its Divine and human existence in the Church, the human body, as matter, as substance, is sanctified by the Holy Spirit and in this way participates in the life of the Trinity. Matter thus attains its transcendent, divine meaning and goal, its eternal blessedness and its immortal joy in the God-Man.
The holiness of the Saints—both the holiness of their souls and of their bodies—derives from their zealous grace- and virtue-bestowing lives in the Body of the Church of Christ, of the God-Man. In this sense, holiness completely envelopes the human person—the entire soul and body and all that enters into the mystical composition of the human body. The holiness of the Saints does not hold forth only in their souls, but it necessarily extends to their bodies; so it is that both the body and the soul of a saint are sanctified. Thus we, in piously venerating the Saints, also venerate the entire person, in this manner not separating the holy soul from the holy body. Our pious veneration of the Saints’ relics is a natural part of our pious respect for and prayerful entreaty to the Saints. All of this constitutes one indivisible ascetic act, just as the soul and body constitute the single, indivisible person of the Saint. Clearly, during his life on the earth, the Saint, by a continuous and singular grace- and virtue-bestowing synergy of soul and body, attains to the sanctification of his person, filling both the soul and body with the grace of the Holy Spirit and so transforming them into vessels of the holy mysteries and holy virtues. It is completely natural, again, to show pious reverence both to the former and to the latter, both to soul and body, both of them holy vessels of God’s grace. When the charismatic power of Christ issues forth, it makes Grace-filled all the constituent parts of the human person and the person in his entirety. By unceasing enactment of the ascetic efforts set forth in the Gospels, Saints gradually fill themselves with the Holy Spirit, so that their sacred bodies, according to the word of the holy Apostle, become temples of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 6:19; 3:17), Christ dwelling by faith in their hearts (Eph. 3:17) and by fruitful love also fulfilling the commandments of God the Father. Establishing themselves in the Holy Spirit through grace-bestowing ascetic labors, the Saints participate in the life of the Trinity, becoming sons of the Holy Trinity, temples of the Living God (II Cor. 6:16); their whole lives thus flow from the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit. By piously venerating the holy relics of the Saints, the Church reveres them as temples of the Holy Spirit, temples of the Living God, in which God dwells by Grace even after the earthly death of the Saints. And by His most wise and good Will, God creates miracles in and through these relics. Moreover, the miracles which derive from the holy relics witness also to the fact that their pious veneration by the people is pleasing to God.
All in all, the mystery of holy relics is at the heart of the universal mystery of the New Testament: the incarnation of God. The full mystery of the human body is explained by the incarnation, the embodiment of God in the God-Man, the Lord Jesus Christ. For this reason, then, the Gospel message concerning the body: “The body for the Lord, and the Lord for the body” (I Corinthians 6:13). And through a human body also the entire creation, all of matter, received its divine significance, the universal meaning of the God-Man. By man, who is sanctified in the Church by the holy mysteries and the holy virtues, the creation and even matter are sanctified, united to Christ. (The Place of Holy Relics in the Orthodox Church, St. Justin Popovich. From Orthodox Tradition, Vol. VII, No. 1, p. 9. Translated from the Serbian by the Reverend Gregory Telepneff)
2Ki 2:13-14And he took up the cloak of Elijah that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. Then he took the cloak of Elijah that had fallen from him and struck the water, saying, “Where is the LORD, the God of Elijah?” And when he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha went over.
2Ki 13:21 And as a man was being buried, behold, a marauding band was seen and the man was thrown into the grave of Elisha, and as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet.
Sir. 48:13-15 Elias was indeed covered with the whirlwind, and his spirit was filled up in Eliseus: in his days he feared not the prince, and no man was more powerful than he. No word could overcome him, and after death his body prophesied. In his life he did great wonders, and in death he wrought miracles.
Eze 44:19 And when they (the priests) go out into the outer court to the people, they shall put off the garments in which they have been ministering and lay them in the holy chambers. And they shall put on other garments, lest they transmit holiness to the people with their garments.
Mat 14:35-36 And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent around to all that region and brought to him all who were sick and implored Him that they might only touch the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.
Act 19:11-12 And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them.
St. Ignatius of Antioch ca. 45-115
Then, being immediately thrown in, according to the command of Caesar given some time ago, the public spectacles being just about to close (for it was then a solemn day, as they deemed it, being that which is called the thirteenth in the Roman tongue, on which the people were wont to assemble in more than ordinary numbers), he was thus cast to the wild beasts close, beside the temple,
that so by them the desire of the holy martyr Ignatius should be fulfilled, according to that which is written, “The desire of the righteous is acceptable Prov. 10:24 [to God],” to the effect that he might not be troublesome to any of the brethren by the gathering of his remains, even as he had in his Epistle expressed a wish beforehand that so his end might be. For only the harder portions of his holy remains were left, which were conveyed to Antioch and wrapped in linen, as an inestimable treasure left to the holy Church by the grace which was in the martyr. (Martyrdom of Ignatius 6)
St. Polycarp of Smyrna ca. 69-155
These things then happened with so great speed, quicker than it takes to tell, and the crowd came together immediately, and prepared wood and faggots from the work-shops and baths and the Jews were extremely zealous, as is their custom, in assisting at this. Now when the fire was ready he put off all his clothes, and loosened his girdle and tried also to take off his shoes, though he did not do this before, because each of the faithful was always zealous, which of them might the more quickly touch his flesh. For he had been treated with all respect because of his noble life, even before his martyrdom. (Martyrdom of Polycarp 13)
But the evil one, who is the opponent and envier, who is the enemy to the race of men, beholding both the greatness of his testimony and his conversation blameless from the beginning, how he was crowned with a crown of immortality, and how he carried off a prize that could not be spoken against, contrived that not even a relic of him should be taken by us, though many desired to do this, and to communicate with his holy flesh. He suborned, therefore, Nicetes, the father of Herodes, and the brother of Alce, to make interest with the governor so as not to give his body to the tomb, Lest, said he, they abandon the crucified and begin to worship this man. And these things they said at the suggestion and instance of the Jews, who also kept watch when we were about to take the body from the fire, not knowing that we shall never be able to abandon Christ, who suffered for the salvation of the whole world of those who are saved, the blameless on behalf of sinners, nor to worship any one else. Him we adore as the Son of God; but the martyrs, as the disciples and imitators of the Lord, we love according to their deserts, on account of their incomparable love for their King and Teacher, with whom may it be our lot to be partners and fellow-disciples.
Therefore, the centurion, seeing the strife that had risen among the Jews, placed the body in the midst of the fire and burned it. Thus we, having afterwards taken up his bones, more valuable than precious stones, laid them where it was suitable. There, so far as is allowed us, when we are gathered together in exultation and joy, the Lord will enable us to celebrate the birthday of the martyrs, both for the memory of those who have contended, and for the exercise and preparation of those to come. (ibid.,17,18)
Eusebius of Caesarea ca. 263-339
In this way then was he the first to be heralded as above all a fighter against God, and he was raised up to slaughter against the Apostles. It is related that in his time Paul was beheaded in Rome itself, and that Peter likewise was crucified, and the title of Peter and Paul, which is still given to the cemeteries there, confirms the story, no less than does a writer of the church named Gaius, who lived when Zephyrinus was bishop of Rome, and who in a written discussion with Proclus, the leader of the opinion among the Phrygians, speaks as follows of the places where the sacred relics of the apostles in question are deposited: But I can point out the trophies of the apostles, for if you will go to the Vatican or to the Ostian Way you will find the trophies of those who founded this church. (Ecclesiastical History 2.25.5-7)
St. Athanasius the Great ca. 293-373
Of Anthony’s Death
Having said this, when they had kissed him, he lifted up his feet, and as though he saw friends coming to him and was glad because of them— for as he lay his countenance appeared joyful— he died and was gathered to the fathers. And they afterward, according to his commandment, wrapped him up and buried him, hiding his body underground. And no one knows to this day where it was buried, save those two only. But each of those who received the sheepskin of the blessed Antony and the garment worn by him guards it as a precious treasure. For even to look on them is as it were to behold Antony; and he who is clothed in them seems with joy to bear his admonitions. (Life of Anthony, 92)
St. Cyril of Jerusalem ca. 313-386
I speak but in passing of Elias, and the widow’s son whom he raised; of Elisseus also, who raised the dead twice; once in his lifetime, and once after his death. For when alive he wrought the resurrection by means of his own soul 2 Kings 4:34; but that not the souls only of the just might be honoured, but that it might be believed that in the bodies also of the just there lies a power, the corpse which was cast into the sepulchre of Elisseus, when it touched the dead body of the prophet, was quickened, and the dead body of the prophetdid the work of the soul, and that which was dead and buried gave life to the dead, and though it gave life, yet continued itself among the dead. Wherefore? Lest if Elisseus should rise again, the work should be ascribed to his soul alone; and to show, that even though the soul is not present, a virtue resides in the body of the saints, because of the righteous soul which has for so many years dwelt in it, and used it as its minister. And let us not foolishly disbelieve, as though this thing had not happened: for if handkerchiefs and aprons, which are from without, touching the bodies of the diseased, raised up the sick, how much more should the very body of the Prophet raise the dead? (Catechetical Lectures 18.16)
St. Basil the Great ca. 330-379
To Arcadius the Bishop.
I thanked the Holy God when I read your letter, most pious brother. I pray that I may not be unworthy of the expectations you have formed of me, and that you will enjoy a full reward for the honour which you pay me in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I was exceedingly pleased to hear that you have been occupied in a matter eminently becoming a Christian, have raised a house to the glory of God, and have in practical earnest loved, as it is written,
the beauty of the house of the Lord,and have so provided for yourself that heavenly mansion which is prepared in His rest for them that love the Lord. If I am able to find any relics of martyrs, I pray that I may take part in your earnest endeavour. If
the righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance,I shall without doubt have a share in the good fame which the Holy One will give you. (Letter 49)
St. Gregory of Nyssa ca. 335-394
Should a person come to a place similar to our assemble today where the memory of the just and the rest of the saints is present, first consider this house’s great dignity to which souls are lead. God’s temple is brightly adorned with magnificence and is embellished with decorations, pictures of animals which masons have fashioned with delicate silver figures. It exhibits images of flowers made in the likeness of the martyr’s virtues, his struggles, sufferings, the various savage actions of tyrants, assaults, that fiery furnace, the athlete’s blessed consummation and the human form of Christ presiding over all these events. They are like a book skillfully interpreting by means of colors which express the martyr’s struggles and glorify the temple with resplendent beauty. The pictures located on the walls are eloquent by their silence and offer significant testimony; the pavement on which people tread is combined with small stones and is significant to mention in itself.
These spectacles strike the senses and delight the eye by drawing us near to [the martyr’s] tomb which we believe to be both a sanctification and blessing. If anyone takes dust from the martyr’s resting place, it is a gift and a deserving treasure. Should a person have both the good fortune and permission to touch the relics, this experience is a highly valued prize and seems like a dream both to those who were cured and whose wish was fulfilled. The body appears as if it were alive and healthy: the eyes, mouth, ears as well as the other senses are a cause for pouring out tears of reverence and emotion. In this way one implores the martyr who intercedes on our behalf and is an attendant of God for imparting those favors and blessings which people seek. (In Praise of the Great-Martyr Theodore)
St. Ambrose of Milan ca. 338-397
For not without reason do many call this the resurrection of the martyrs. I do not say whether they have risen for themselves, for us certainly the martyrs have risen. You know— nay, you have yourselves seen— that many are cleansed from evil spirits, that very many also, having touched with their hands the robe of the saints, are freed from those ailments which oppressed them; you see that the miracles of old time are renewed, when through the coming of the Lord Jesus grace was more largely shed forth upon the earth, and that many bodies are healed as it were by the shadow of the holy bodies. How many napkins are passed about! How many garments, laid upon the holy relics and endowed with healing power, are claimed! All are glad to touch even the outside thread, and whosoever touches will be made whole.
Thanks be to You, Lord Jesus, that at this time You have stirred up for us the spirits of the holy martyrs, when Your Church needs greater protection. (Letter 22. 9-10)
Blessed Jerome ca. 347-420
Still we honour the relics of the martyrs, that we may adore Him whose martyrs they are. We honour the servants that their honour may be reflected upon their Lord who Himself says: ..he that receiveth you receiveth me… , I ask Vigilantius, “Are the relics of Peter and of Paul unclean? Was the body of Moses unclean, of which we are told (according to the correct Hebrew text, [Deut. xxxiv. 6]) that it was buried by the Lord Himself? And do we, every time that we enter the basilicas of apostles and prophets and martyrs, pay homage to the shrines of idols? Are the tapers which burn before their tombs only the tokens of idolatry?”
I will go farther still and ask a question which will make this theory recoil upon the head of its inventor and which will either kill or cure that frenzied brain of his, so that simple souls shall be no more subverted by his sacrilegious reasonings. Let him answer me this: Was the Lord’s body unclean when it was placed in the sepulchre? And did the angels clothed in white raiment merely watch over a corpse dead and defiled, that ages afterwards this sleepy fellow might indulge in dreams and vomit forth his filthy surfeit, so as, like the persecutor Julian, either to destroy the basilicas of the saints or to convert them into heathen temples?
…If the relics of the martyrs are not worthy of honour, how comes it that we read Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints, [Ps. cxvi. 15]?
If dead men’s bones defile those that touch them, how came it that the dead Elisha raised another man also dead, and that life came to this latter from the body of the prophet which according to Vigilantius must have been unclean? In that case every encampment of the host of Israel and the people of God was unclean; for they carried the bodies of Joseph and of the patriarchs with them in the wilderness, and carried their unclean ashes even into the holy land. In that case Joseph, who was a type of our Lord and Saviour, was a wicked man; for he carried up Jacob’s bones with great pomp to Hebron merely to put his unclean father beside his unclean grandfather and great-grandfather, that is, one dead body along with others.
…Once more I ask: Are the relics of the martyrs unclean? If so, why did the Apostles allow themselves to walk in that funeral procession before the body — the unclean body — of Stephen, [Acts viii. 2]? Why did they make great lamentation over him, that their grief might be turned into our joy? (Epistle 109)
St. John Chrysostom ca. 349-407
When, therefore, he made an end of life there, yea rather, when he ascended to heaven, he departed henceforward crowned. For this also happened through the dispensation of God, that he restored him again to us, and distributed the martyr to the cities. For that city received his blood as it dropped, but you were honoured with his remains, you enjoyed his episcopate, they enjoyed his martyrdom.
Not only today, therefore, but every day let us go forth to him, plucking spiritual fruits from him. For it is, it is possible for him who comes hither with faith to gather the fruit of many good things. For not the bodies only, but the very sepulchres of the saints have been filled with spiritual grace. For if in the case of Elisha this happened, and a corpse when it touched the sepulchre, burst the bands of death and returned to life again, 2 Kgs 13:21 much rather now, when grace is more abundant, when the energy of the spirit is greater, is it possible that one touching a sepulchre, with faith, should win great power; thence on this account God allowed us the remains of the saints, wishing to lead by them us to the same emulation, and to afford us a kind of haven, and a secure consolation for the evils which are ever overtaking us. Wherefore I beseech you all, if any is in despondency, if in disease, if under insult, if in any other circumstance of this life, if in the depth of sins, let him come hither with faith, and he will lay aside all those things, and will return with much joy, having procured a lighter conscience from the sight alone. (Homily on St. Ignatius)
Blessed Augustine of Hippo ca. 354-430
The miracle which was wrought at Milan when I was there, and by which a blind man was restored to sight, could come to the knowledge of many; for not only is the city a large one, but also the emperor was there at the time, and the occurrence was witnessed by an immense concourse of people that had gathered to the bodies of the martyrs Protasius and Gervasius, which had long lain concealed and unknown, but were now made known to the bishop Ambrose in a dream, and discovered by him. By virtue of these remains the darkness of that blind man was scattered, and he saw the light of day. (City of God Bk. 22.8)
St. John Cassian ca. 360-435
In the district of Palestine near the village of Tekoa which had the honour of producing the prophet Amos, Amos 1:1 there is a vast desert which stretches far and wide as far as Arabia and the dead sea, into which the streams of Jordan enter and are lost, and where are the ashes of Sodom. In this district there lived for a long while monks of the most perfect life and holiness, who were suddenly destroyed by an incursion of Saracen robbers: whose bodies we knew were seized upon with the greatest veneration both by the Bishops of the neighbourhood and by the whole populace of Arabia, and deposited among the relics of the martyrs… (Conferences 6.1)
Apostolic Constitutions compiled ca. 375
Do not therefore keep any such observances about legal and natural purgations, as thinking you are defiled by them. Neither do you seek after Jewish separations, or perpetual washings, or purifications upon the touch of a dead body.
But without such observations assemble in the dormitories, reading the holy books, and singing for the martyrs which are fallen asleep, and for all the saints from the beginning of the world, and for your brethren that are asleep in the Lord, and offer the acceptable Eucharist, the representation of the royal body of Christ, both in your churches and in the dormitories; and in the funerals of the departed, accompany them with singing, if they were faithful in Christ. For “precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”
And again: “O my soul, return unto thy rest, for the Lord hath done thee good.”
And elsewhere: “The memory of the just is with encomiums.” And, “The souls of the righteous are in the hands of God.” For those that have believed in God, although they are asleep, are not dead. For our Saviour says to the Sadducees: “But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which is written, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God, therefore, is not the God of the dead, but of the living; for all live to Him.” Wherefore, of those that live with God, even their very relics are not without honour. For even Elisha the prophet, after he was fallen asleep, raised up a dead man who was slain by the pirates of Syria. For his body touched the bones of Elisha, and he arose and revived. Now this would not have happened unless the body of Elisha were holy. And chaste Joseph embraced Jacob after he was dead upon his bed; and Moses and Joshua the son of Nun carried away the relics of Joseph, and did not esteem it a defilement. Whence you also, O bishops, and the rest, who without such observances touch the departed, ought not to think yourselves defiled. Nor abhor the relics of such persons, but avoid such observances, for they are foolish. And adorn yourselves with holiness and chastity, that ye may become partakers of immortality, and partners of the kingdom of God, and may receive the promise of God, and may rest for ever, through Jesus Christ our Saviour. (Book VI, Chap. 30)
Blessed Theodoret of Cyr ca. 393-457
The noble souls of the triumphant are sauntering around heaven, dancing in the choruses of the bodiless; and not one tomb for
each conceals their bodies, but cities and villages divide them up and call them healers and preservers of souls and bodies, and
venerate them a guardians and protectors of cities; and when they intervene as ambassadors before the Master of the universe the
divine gifts are obtained through them; and though the body has been divided, its grace has continued undivided. And that little particle and smallest relic has the same power as the absolutely and utterly undivided martyr. (The Cure of Pagan Maladies 8.54)
St. Columba of Iona ca. 521-597
After reading these three books, let the diligent reader observe of what and how great merit, of what and how high honour in the sight of God our holy and venerable abbot (Columba) must have been deemed worthy, how great and many were the bright visits of the angels made to him, how full of the prophetic spirit, how great his power of miracles wrought in God, how often and to what great extent, while yet he was abiding in this mortal flesh, he was surrounded by a halo of heavenly light; and how, even after the departure of his most kindly soul from the tabernacle of the body, until the present day the place where his sacred bones repose, as has been clearly shown to certain chosen persons, doth not cease to be frequently visited by the holy angels, and illumined by the same heavenly brightness. And this unusual favour hath been conferred by God on this same man of blessed memory; that though he lived in this small and remote island of the British sea, his name hath not only become illustrious throughout the whole of our own Scotia (Ireland), and Britain, the largest island of the whole world, but hath reached even unto triangular Spain, and into Gaul, and to Italy, which lieth beyond the Penine Alps; and also to the city of Rome itself, the head of all cities. This great and honourable celebrity, amongst other marks of divine favour, is known to have been conferred on this same saint by God, Who loveth those that love Him, and raiseth them to immense honour by glorifying more and more those that magnify and truly praise Him, Who is blessed for evermore. Amen. (St. Adamnan, Life of St. Columba Bk. 3.24)
Pope St. Gregory the Dialogist ca. 540-604
[W]e have handed over, according to your Excellency’s request, with the reverence due to them, certain relics of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul. But, that laudable and religious devotion may be more and more conspicuous among you, you must see that these benefits of the saints be deposited with reverence and due honour, and that those who serve in attendance on them be vexed with no burdens or molestations, lest perchance, under the pressure of outward necessity, they be rendered unprofitable and slow in the service of God, and (which God forbid) the benefits of the saints that have been bestowed sustain injury and neglect. (Epistle L: To Queen Brunichild, Queen of the Franks)
Bede the Venerable ca. 673-735
After this, a certain man, who had the quality of a tribune, came forward with his wife, and presented his blind daughter, ten years of age, for the priests to cure. They ordered her to be set before their adversaries, who, being convinced by guilt of conscience, joined their entreaties to those of the child’s parents, and besought the priests that she might be cured. The priests, therefore, perceiving their adversaries to yield, made a short prayer, and then Germanus, full of the Holy Ghost, invoked the Trinity, and taking into his hands a casket with relics of saints, which hung about his neck, applied it to the girl’s eyes, which were immediately delivered from darkness and filled with the light of truth. The parents rejoiced, and the people were astonished at the miracle; after which, the wicked opinions were so fully obliterated from the minds of all, that they ardently embraced the doctrine of the priests. This damnable heresy being thus suppressed, and the authors thereof confuted, and all the people’s hearts settled in the purity of the faith, the priests repaired to the tomb the martyr, St. Alban, to give thanks to God through him. There Germanus, having with him relics of all the Apostles, and of several martyrs, after offering up his prayers, commanded the tomb to be opened, that he might lay up therein some precious gifts; judging it convenient, that the limbs of saints brought together from several countries, as their equal merits had procured them admission into heaven, should he preserved in one tomb. These being honourably deposited, and laid together, he took up a parcel of dust from the place where the martyr’s blood had been shed, to carry away with him, which dust having retained the blood, it appeared that the slaughter of the martyrs had communicated a redness to it, whilst the persecutor was struck pale. In consequence of these things, an innumerable multitude of people was that day converted to the Lord. (Ecclesiastical History of the English Chap. 18)
St. John Damascene ca. 676-749
These are made treasuries and pure habitations of God: For I will dwell in them, said God, and walk in them, and I will be their God. The divine Scripture likewise saith that the souls of the just are in God’s hand and death cannot lay hold of them. For death is rather the sleep of the saints than their death. For they travailed in this life and shall to the end, and Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. What then, is more precious than to be in the hand of God? For God is Life and Light, and those who are in God’s hand are in life and light.
Further, that God dwelt even in their bodies in spiritual wise, the Apostle tells us, saying, Know ye not that your bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit dwelling in you?, and The Lord is that Spirit, and If any one destroy the temple of God, him will God destroy. Surely, then, we must ascribe honour to the living temples of God, the living tabernacles of God. These while they lived stood with confidence before God.
The Master Christ made the remains of the saints to be fountains of salvation to us, pouring forth manifold blessings and abounding in oil of sweet fragrance: and let no one disbelieve this. For if water burst in the desert from the steep and solid rock at God’s will and from the jaw-bone of an ass to quench Samson’s thirst, is it incredible that fragrant oil should burst forth from the martyrs’ remains? By no means, at least to those who know the power of God and the honour which He accords His saints.
In the law every one who toucheth a dead body was considered impure, but these are not dead. For from the time when He that is Himself life and the Author of life was reckoned among the dead, we do not call those dead who have fallen asleep in the hope of the resurrection and in faith on Him. For how could a dead body work miracles? How, therefore, are demons driven off by them, diseases dispelled, sick persons made well, the blind restored to sight, lepers purified, temptations and troubles overcome, and how does every good gift from the Father of lights come down through them to those who pray with sure faith? How much labour would you not undergo to find a patron to introduce you to a mortal king and speak to him on your behalf? Are not those, then, worthy of honour who are the patrons of the whole race, and make intercession to God for us? Yea, verily, we ought to give honour to them by raising temples to God in their name, bringing them fruit-offerings, honouring their memories and taking spiritual delight in them, in order that the joy of those who call on us may be ours, that in our attempts at worship we may not on the contrary cause them offence. (Bk. 4, Chap. 15)
7th Ecumenical Council 787 a.d.
Paul the divine Apostle says: “The sins of some are open beforehand, and some they follow after.” These are their primary sins, and other sins follow these. Accordingly upon the heels of the heresy of the traducers of the Christians, there followed close other ungodliness. For as they took out of the churches the presence of the venerable images, so likewise they cast aside other customs which we must now revive and maintain in accordance with the written and unwritten law. We decree therefore that relics shall be placed with the accustomed service in as many of the sacred temples as have been consecrated without the relics of the Martyrs. And if any bishop from this time forward is found consecrating a temple without holy relics, he shall be deposed, as a transgressor of the ecclesiastical traditions. (Canon 7)
Patriarch Jeremias II (Tranos) of Constantinople 1530-1595
You reckon the invocation of the saints, their icons, and their sacred relics as futile. You reject their veneration, taking as a pretext the Hebrew source. Moreover, you also reject confession to one another. In addition, you reject the angelic, monastic life. And about these matters we say that the Holy [Scripture] passages concerning them have not been interpreted by such theologians as you are, for neither Saint Chrysostom nor any other of the blessed and true theologians interpreted as if they were dragged along by a torrent. But, indeed, he [Chrysostom] and the holy man after him, being full of the Holy Spirit who performed supernatural miracles while they were living and after they died, interpreted [the Holy Scriptures] as they did; and they received such traditions, and they handed them down successively and gave them to us as indispensable and pious [sacraments]. Some of these even Old Rome also keeps and acquiesces with us. From whence have you reckoned better than Old and New Rome? Indeed, have you forsaken the interpretations of the true theologians and considered your own as more preferable? From the source of the Hebrew tradition we learn from history that contempt for the holy icons and sacred relics had its origin from the Hebrews. (Third Answer to the Lutherans, Issued in the year 1581, June 6. Protonotarios Theodosios)