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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 is sealed on the reverse with a red Spanishwax seal with the imprint of the coat of arms of the issuing Roman Catholic authority

Relic's Certificate of Authenticity


  • Ex capillis - from the hair
  • Ex capsa mortuaria - bodily particles from the mortuary box
  • 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 Columnae 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 Fascia - of the Bandage / of the Sash
  • 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 Pane Benedetta - of the Blessed Bread
  • 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 Scala Sancta - of the Holy Steps
  • Ex Scala Cruciae - from the Holy Stairs of the Cross
  • 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 - 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 bireto - from the beret
  • Ex calciamentum - of the shoes / sandals
  • Ex camiseta - of the shirt
  • Ex cappa magna - of the great cape
  • Ex casula - of the tomb
  • Ex cirothecis - of the glove
  • Ex cilitio (cilicum)- of the hairshirt
  • Ex cossa - of the funerary box
  • Ex domo - of house
  • Ex fultura brachiali et crurali - from the support of arm and leg
  • 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 the cloth
  • Ex locii - of place, location
  • Ex pallio - of pallium (omophor), a woolen cloak
  • Ex pileolo - of a cap
  • Ex pluviali - cape
  • Ex praecepis - of the birthplace, manger
  • Ex scutello - of the shield
  • 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
  • Sacre Monte Sion - Pebble from the Mount Zion 
  • Monte Calvariae - Pebble from the Mount Cavalry

The Abbreviations Frequently Seen on the Relic’s Cedulae

  • Abb. - Abbot
  • Anacor. - Anchoret
  • Ap. (or A., Apost.) - Apostle
  • Arc - Archbishop
  • B - the Blessed
  • B.V.M (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) - a young child
  • Legislat. - lawgiver
  • Lev - deacon
  • - Martyr
  • MM - Martyrs
  • Mater - Mother
  • Med. - doctor
  • Mil. (M) - soldier
  • Monachi - monk
  • Pueri - Child
  • 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
  • Sp - Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • 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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