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Saints in Connecticut. Relics point to Jesus Christ.

Litchfield County Times’ reporter Tom Breen published his “Catholic Retreat Near Mystic Features Severed Arm of Medieval Saint” on May 25, 2013. He writes on the first class relic of Saint Edmund of Canterbury, a renowned English archbishop, in a Mystic, CT, retreat house by the same name.

The infrastructure of holiness rests, in part, with the witness to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Saints, for those who are Catholic, are men and women who know they are sinners, who have been forgiven, and who know what it means to live the sacred Scriptures. Specifically, they point to Christ as Messiah and say that it is in fact possible for all of us to be saints.

The Church has venerated, not worshiped saints and their relics. As reliable witnesses, the saints to this day point to Jesus. By the second century Christians would pray in the places where the martyrs were buried and/or where they were killed. A human contact is necessary for all of us.

The practice of offering Mass upon the tombs of the saints became normal; when the Christian community expanded, the practice of praying with the saints followed. Devotion ensued and Connecticut has a verifiable saint to honor.

Saint Edmund of Canterbury’s feast day is November 16.

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Connecticut has a significant piece of one saint, and a man who is being studied for sainthood: respectively we have the arm of Saint Edmund of Canterbury in Mystic and the Venerable Servant of God Michael J. McGivney in New Haven.

In the Chapel of Our Lady of the Assumption at St Edmund’s Retreat House the arm of the 13th century English archbishop rests under a glass case for the public to honor.

Edmund was elected to be the archbishop of Canterbury in 1234 and lived in conflict with with both Pope Gregory IX and King Henry III. Men of conscience and holiness are always in tension with those who have other agendas. Edmund did the practical thing for the pastoral good of the diocese and retired to the French Benedictine Abbey in Pontigny. 

Politics never died viz. Edmund and his detractors: the Church canonized Edmund in 1246 over the objections of Henry III; miracles happened at his tomb and people are devoted to him.

The saint’s arm as been in the possession of the Society of Saint Edmund for a long time; it made a transatlantic trip in 1930 first settling in Vermont and then it moved to the Mystic retreat house on Enders Island.

A pilgrimage to the sites of these two Connecticut holy men is a good Catholic practice. I was there recently.