The Catholicity of the College permeates the background of our gathering, even though only one religious event — a Mass — is part of the official agenda. Friend Ginny and I wandered around the main administration building on Saturday. The building was in use while we were college students for administrative offices and the dining hall, but now is used only by the Sisters of Charity. A hallway leads directly into the chapel — which is actually a large church.
The bones of Miriam Teresa Demjanovich, a Sister of Charity who died in the late 1920’s and was recently beatified, are interred there. Beatification is a significant step along the long path to sainthood. The bones of a beatified person are what’s called a first order relic: the bones are in that wooden case with the Waterford handle. The two containers below have the dirt that was around the casket when it was interred in the Sisters’ cemetery. Anything that directly touched the bones — like the person’s clothing — is a second order relic. Anything that touched a first or second order relic — like the dirt — is a third order relic.
All of this is very hard to explain to non-Catholics — and by the way, I’m no expert and I stand corrected in any of this by anyone who knows more than I do. Do Catholics still believe all of this? I think so — traditional Catholics, anyway. MTJ and her bones are part of the culture of the College, and Ginny and I paid due respect.