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Home>>Articles & Slideshows>> How to Read Latin Inscriptions on Labels of Antique Catholic Relics

How to Read Inscriptions in Antique Catholic Reliquaries

18th-century theca containing a piece of the Shroud of Turin (Ex Sindone D.N.J.C.)

19th century theca containing First Class relics of several saints

19th-century theca containing relics of XII Apostles.

Theca sealed on reverse with Spanish red wax seal with the imprint of the Coat of Arms of the Issuing Authority

Relic's Certificate of Authenticity


  • Ex capillis - from the hair
  • Ex carne - from the flesh
  • Ex cineribus - from the ashes
  • Ex corpore (corpus), cravio,  - from the body
  • Ex costa - from the rib
  • Ex cranium - of the skull
  • Ex dentium - of the tooth
  • Ex ligneo pulvere, mixto pulveri corporis, quem residuum continebat prima capsa funeralis - from the remains of the wood, mixed with the dust of the body, the residue of which was contained in the first sarcophagus
  • Ex ossibus - from the bone
  • Ex pelle - from the skin
  • Ex praecordis - from the stomach and intestines
  • Ex sanguinis (sanguis) - from the blood
  • Ex spongia imbuto sanguinis - of a sponge soaked in blood
  • Ex tela imbuto sanguinisof a cloth soaked in blood
  • Ex velo serico quo ossa involuta sunt - particles of bone from the silk veil the relics are wrapped in
  • Ex viscera - from the flesh


  • Ex Arundine D.N.J.C. - of the cane of Our Lord Jesus Christ
  • Ex Bireto - from the biretta
  • Ex Petrae Calvariae - of Golgotha rock
  • Ex Coenaculum - of the site of the Last Supper
  • Ex Cincturae -  of the Belt
  • Ex Cingendo (Ex Cingulo) - of the Girdle
  • Clavus - Holy Nail
  • Ex Colum. Flag. - of the Column of Flagellation
  • Ex Corona Spinensis (Coronse spinse) D.N.J.C. - of Crown of Thorns of Our Lord Jesus Christ
  • Ex lignum Crucis D.N.J.C. - Wood from the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ
  • SS. Crucis D.N.J.C. - the Most Holy Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ
  • Ex Cunis (Cunabulum) - of the Holy Manger of Our Lord
  • Ex Domo - Either the Domo Lauretana or the Ephesus House
  • Ex Fune - of the Rope
  • Lancea Longini - the Holy Spear
  • Ex Lacte B.V.M. - of the Milk of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Ex Mensa Ult. Cenae - of the Table of the Last Supper
  • Ex Praesepe D.N.J.C - Particle from the Nativity Grotto of our Lord Jesus Christ
  • Ex Rupe M. Calvario D.N.J.C. - Particle from the Stone of Mount Calvary of Our Lord Jesus Christ
  • Ex Sindone D.N.J.C - of Shroud of Our Lord Jesus Christ (Turin, Constantinople]
  • Ex Sepulcro D.N.J.C. - Particle from the Empty Tomb of Our Lord Jesus Christ
  • De Sponga - a particle of the Holy Sponge
  • Ex Stipite Affixionis - of the Whipping post
  • Ex Sudarii - of Sweat cloth (Oviedo Shroud) 
  • Ex Titulus D.N.J.C. - of Titulus IESVS NAZARENVS REX IVDAEORVM that to have been affixed to Jesus' cross.
  • Ex Velo - of the Protecting Veil, Pokrov
  • Ex Veste Alba - of the White Vestment of Our Lord
  • Ex Veste Incons. - the Seamless Coat of Our Lord
  • Ex Vinctum - robe or chain that bound Our Lord

SECOND-CLASS RELICS, unless identified with the Holy Family

  • Ex arca sepulcrali - of a coffin
  • Ex Baculo - of the staff
  • Ex calciamentum - of the shoes / sandals
  • Ex camiseta - of the shirt
  • Ex casula - of the tomb
  • Ex cilitio (cilicum)- of the hairshirt
  • Ex domo - of house
  • Ex fune - of the rope
  • Ex Inducio - from covering
  • Ex incunabula - from the cradle
  • Ex indumentis - from the clothing
  • Ex ligno - of the wood
  • Ex linteis - of cloth
  • Ex locii - of place, location
  • Ex pallio - of pallium (omophor), a woolen cloak
  • Ex pileolo - of a cap
  • Ex pluviali - cope
  • Ex praecepis - of birthplace, manger
  • Ex sindone - of shroud
  • Ex sportula - from the little basket
    • Ex stola - of the robe
  • Ex strato - from the covering (blanket)
  • Ex subuculi - of undergarment, chemise
  • Ex tela serica quae tetigit cor - from the silk cloth which touched the heart
  • Ex tunica - of tunic, garment
  • Ex velo - of veil
  • Ex velo que involuta (from the material that wrapped the relics)
  • Ex vessillo - of the cloak
  • Ex vestimentis - of clothing
  • Ex vestibus - of clothing

The Abbreviations Frequently Seen on the Relic’s Cedulae

  • Abb. - Abbot
  • Anacor. - Anchoret
  • Ap (or A., Apost.) - Apostle
  • Arc - Archbishop
  • B - the Blessed
  • BVM (Beata Virgo Maria)  - Blessed Virgin Mary
  • C - Confessor
  • Card. - Cardinal
  • D - Doctor of the Church
  • D.N.I.C. (Domini Nostri Iesu Christi) - Our Lord Jesus Christ
  • D.N.J.C. - see above
  • E (Ep or Epis) - Bishop
  • E (or Ev or Evang) - Evangelist
  • Eremitae - Hermit
  • Exorcistae - Exorcist
  • - Founder of Order
  • Imp - Royalty
  • Inn - (Innocens) - young child
  • Legislat. - lawgiver
  • Lev - deacon
  • - Martyr
  • MM - Martyrs
  • Med - doctor
  • Mil - soldier
  • Monachi - monk
  • Poen. - Penitent
  • Presb. - Priest
  • Prophetiae - Prophet
  • P (or PP) - Papae - the Pope
  • Puellae - girl
  • Regis - King / Queen 
  • S - Saint
  • SS - Saints
  • SS - The Most Holy or Saints
  • Sp - Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Reg - King or Queen
  • Uxoris - Wife
  • V - Virgin
  • Vid - Widow

The Third Class Relics are not in accordance with the Tridentine regulations.  Such relics can be created by anyone by touching any object to a first or second class relic. As such, they are not desirable with very few exceptions when the first and second class relics are not available - for example, Passion relics of the Holy Spear or the Holy Nails.

Abbreviations and notable words:

  • S. R. E. - Sancta Romana Ecclesia - ("The Holy Roman Church"), often used in reference to the College of Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church
  • S. R. I. Comes (Cavaliere del Sacro Romano Impero) - Knight of the Holy Roman Empire
  • Congregatio de Causis Sanctorum -a congregation of the Roman Curia that oversees the process that leads to the canonization of saints
  • Servus Dei - a title given to a deceased person whose life and works are being investigated in consideration for official recognition by the Catholic Church as a saint in Heaven.
  • Servus Servorum Dei - one of the titles of the Pope used at the beginning of papal bulls.

Description of thecae found in authentics documents

  • Argentea - silver
  • Auricalcum - brass
  • Crystallo - crystal or glass
  • Ovalis - oval
  • Lypsanotheca (Greek: Λειψανοθηκη) - reliquiarium

Authenticity of Relics

Each relic must have at least one proof of authenticity. It can take the following forms:

      • Authentic Spanish red wax seal with the imprint of the Coat of Arms of the Issuing Authority
      • Certificate of Authenticity from the Vicariate of Rome or Postulator/Vice Postulator/Custodian/Local Ordinary (Bishop)
      • Seal through sticker
      • Letter of Testimony

Please note that we are always actively looking to purchase Catholic reliquaries with relics of the Passion, Saints, and Martyrs. If you have a single item or an entire collection, contact us for a complimentary evaluation and appraisal. 


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