Nana wearing her official ring at a family wedding.
The day Fr Daniel’s reflection on relics arrived there was a family discussion on jewellery, in particular my mother-in-law’s bequest to her grandchildren. One daughter had a diamond-set ring, but fiancé was unhappy about using one that had come down through her side of the family.
Another daughter had received a ring from her own fiancé at a very public occasion – no other ring would do for him. Third daughter has her grandmother’s engagement ring but no-one to present it to her so far.
My wife wears my grandmother’s spare wedding band; Nana had lost it and only found it after getting a new one. My ring is made from my father’s broken gold watch. ‘Don’t bury it with me, pass it on and tell the story,’ I said. We all agreed, but my wife, who works in the hospice, said that many want to be buried with their wedding rings. Good reasons can be given for both points of view. I like the relic of my father that goes everywhere with me in this life. I’m sure we’ll be together in the next, by which time Abel may be wearing it.
One interesting set of relics in Canterbury Cathedral were buried with Archbishop Hubert , who served in the reigns of Richard I and John, and dug up in 1890: his chalice and paten and his crozier and ring. Hubert was a crusading archbishop, who is said to have met and talked with Saladin. Sometimes his relics are put to use at the Cathedral, but they can often be seen in the treasury displays.
Our family relics invite us to pray for each other, living and dead, and those who may wear these trinkets after we are gone. Hubert’s invite us to pray for him, but also for peace in the Middle East.