The reliquary is a curious thing. A reliquary will often contain, rings, cloth, or bones from a religious or holy person. Many people who have heard of the Reliquaries of the saints think that they are only Christian icons. However there are reliquaries of Buddhist and Hindu holy persons.
The thought behind the reliquary of course being that the possession or piece of the holy man or woman could cause miracles. There are many people over the centuries who would attest to such miracles. One could presume that the source of power of the relic comes from the holy saint within. Or perhaps one could make an assumption that divine forces are working through these sacred relics.
I would posit that these reliquaries are nothing more than abominations to the person of whom the reliquary was made for. Why is the reliquary an abomination, well consider firstly that the relic is often a bone of the deceased saint and in some cases their entire body. For example Saint Victoria’s entire body is on display at the Maria Stein Center in Ohio. Her head is covered in a visage of a sculpted face. Is this how the saint would want to be remembered?
With any saint there are the holy acts of their life, but in death they lose their mortality. The body becomes more than the living saint ever could be. People receive “miracles” from these bodies or bones when it is nothing more than a faith driven placebo that has healed them.
Consider the psychics that speak with the dead, their work is just as abysmal as these holy incarnations. The psychic will typically use cold reading combined with information farming that allows them to manipulate their victim. These broad guesstimates allow them to bring back our dead loved ones and have them tell us, they miss us or they are watching over us. This is of course what we all want to hear. The truth is our memories of our loved ones are forever changed. So now the last memory we have of our great aunt Harriet isn’t us sitting on the front porch drinking lemonade with her. It is of her soul talking to us from the beyond.
This same idiom holds true to the reliquaries. The memories of the saints and what they have done have long passed. Their lives have left reality and become legend and some cases border on myth. People don’t care about who the actual person was they just want their miracle. Very few people ever pay respect to the “divine”. They just treat the saints, gods, and avatars like Santa Claus. When a person’s “faith” is strong enough miracles can happen. Of course there are unexplained miracles every now and then, but surely it must be possible for a place to permeate with a mindset over time. If a saint’s bones are worshipped for centuries, then for centuries you have people all extending the same subconscious wave lengths. Perhaps it does become possible for the object to perform miracles but it is not the saint who did it.
These reliquaries deserve just as much respect as any recently deceased individual. I’d be willing to bet 99.9% of the people that come to worship and pray at these reliquaries certainly wouldn’t ever want part with their bones after death. The worship of these reliquaries is no different than how our modern culture fiends after items owned by celebrities. At least in the Christian mythos I seem to remember something about Thou shall not worship idols.