Canonical Recognition of the Relics of the Apostles, Philip & James


Our Lady of the Angels Province friars, Fr. Donald Kos, OFM Conv. (5th from right standing in center isle) and Fr. Jude Winkler, OFM Conv. – also our Assistant General (2nd from right standing in center isle) were on hand for this historic event.

December 19, 2016 – Rome: The historic second canonical recognition of the relics of St. Philip and St. James the Lessor was held at the Basilica Santi Apostoli, the Roman Basilica that has been in our Order’s care since the 14th century. The Minister General of our Order, the Most Reverend Fr. Marco Tasca, OFM Conv., along with the pastor of the Basilica, Fr. Aniello Stoia, OFM Conv., many of the confreres, as well as ecclesiastical authorities, gathered for vespers of the apostles, during which Friar Aniello gave a presentation on the reason for this new recognition. The event was followed by a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Gianfranco Girotti, O.F.M. Conv. (Regent Emeritus of the Apostolic Penitentiary), to allow the people of Rome the opportunity to pay tribute to the two Apostles.
The last time these relics were canonically recognized was in 1879, when the decision was made to put the relics in the catacomb type crypt under the main altar. It was recently brought to light that there was a new need for restoration of the crypt. Through that restorative work, it was concluded that the humidity level created a need for a (so far – 9 month) study, to establish the well-being of the relics. It will take a few more months for the study of the ashes, teeth, bone and cloth to be complete. The studies are coordinated by Dr. Nazareno Gabrielli of the Vatican Museum, in cooperation with the Italian Government, who has charge of the care for historical churches.
On April 5, 2016 they extracted a “double urn” of wood and tin containing six glass containers filled with the ashes of the bodies, the ashes of a colobion (ancient liturgical vestment), cloth, 5 teeth, scapular bone, and other bone fragments. Scholars on the project include Prof. Francesco D’Andria of the Università del Salento (Lecce, Italy), who is also excavating the sanctuary of Hierapolis, the “Sacred City” located at present-day Pamukkale (South Central Turkey); home of the tomb of St. Philip. Studies unite the two sites and in May 2017, some of the relics studied in Rome will return to Turkey accompanied by our friars, to be received by the Patriarch Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople and Ecumenical Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
This closing of the reliquary is only the 1st step in a process that will carry St. Philip and St. James the Lessor to be evangelizers in the Middle East, where modern day Christians are still bearing witness as martyrs for Christ.
A new sealed sarcophagus of crystal and iron holds a scroll signed by the dignitaries present, along with the the remains. The Auxiliary Bishop of the Vicariate of Rome, Bishop Gianrico Ruzza worked with the examiners, Friar Aniello and Friar Marco throughout this process. According to Friar Aniello, this is a great witness for the future, as it is the vocation of the churches in the center of Rome to cherish the memory and tradition of the Universal Church. He addressed those on hand, “May the light of the apostles shine forth for all Christians in Rome.”

Sources: Pictures from the event can be found on the Basilica Santi Apostoli Facebook page.
Catholic New Agency Online Article (in Italian)