Crece Bowling, a seventh-grader at St. Mary's Catholic School, carried a statue of the Virgin Mary, draped with a rosary, with him Wednesday afternoon. He clutched it tightly. Wednesday the statue became something even more special to him.
"I touched this statue to the Veil of Mary," Bowling said. "I am very proud of this."
That simple act, touching the statue to a recognized relic of the Catholic Church, made the statue what is called a "Third Class Relic." For students in the church Wednsday afternoon, it was a poplar activity.
They viewed relics brought by Dale Anderson, who told stories of the Saints and the relics themselves.
"You feel blessed that these things from the faith are here, and you can experience this," said eighth-grader Marlie Wagner. "It makes it really real, you can see it and learn things you did not learn in the classroom."
The day was part of Catholic Schools Week — a day that was three years in the making. Following three years of trying, the school was able to schedule a visit from Anderson. Based in Manhattan, Anderson began collecting relics in 1996. His collection is now a traveling display.
Wednesday students were able to see a piece of stone reported to be part of the house of Mary, a piece of the Veil of Mary — reportedly used to clean the ground of Jesus' blood after his beating, a splinter from Jesus' manger, a piece of the crown of thorns from the crucifixion and the rosary used by Mother Teresa.
There were dozens of relics in all, each with a certification from the Vatican.
With those on tables behind him, Anderson told stories of the saints — including the story of St. Catherine of Bologna.
She was blessed with a vision of Jesus while serving as a nun.
When she died at the age of 49 on March 9, 1463, Catherine was buried. After eighteen days of alleged graveside miracles, her incorrupt body was exhumed and relocated to the chapel of the Poor Clares in Bologna, where it remains on display, dressed in her religious habit and seated upright behind glass.
Some of her art and manuscripts survive, including a depiction of St. Ursula from 1456, now in the Galleria Academica in Venice. That these works of Catherine de'Vigri remain existent might be due to their status as relics of a saint.
Each grade level was given time to view all of the relics, and create third class relics if they desired.
"With this, our faith is alive," said principal Phillip Stutey. "It's easy to read this in a text book and not really understand. This brings things alive. Today they could see Mother Teresa's Rosary. That is inspiring to our students. Hopefully they will see the saints for the role models they are."