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Relics were defended by Fathers of Church

Alf McCreary says he is in agreement with the Evangelical Protestant Society (EPS) that relics lack spiritual value (Saturday Review, July 23).

Perhaps he and the EPS are unaware of the antiquity of Christian veneration for shrines and relics.

As Peter Brown, the Irish-born historian of late antiquity, demonstrates in his book The Cult Of The Saints (1981), reverence for both can be traced back to the fourth and fifth centuries (the period when the Church formulated the doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation); he shows also that this was a cult that was defended by Fathers of the Church, such as Saints Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome and Gregory of Nyssa.

The foremost critic in the fourth century of the nascent cult of the saints was not a Christian, but Julian the Apostate, the last pagan emperor.



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