St. Cloud’s relics are reminder of his holy life

Categories: Around the Diocese,Special Features

By Sue Schulzetenberg-Gully
The Visitor

To commemorate 125 years of the St. Cloud Diocese, relics of St. Cloud can be viewed before and after the 3 p.m. Sept. 21 anniversary Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral in St. Cloud.

The relics are kept in niches in the St. Cloud Shrine on the north side of the upper church of St. Mary’s. Also in the shrine is a statue of St. Cloud and two wood reliefs — one of St. Remigius, bishop of Rheims, and one of St. Clothilde, grandmother of St. Cloud. Small locked wooden doors usually cover the niches holding the relics, but the doors are opened for special occasions.

One of the relics is a vertebra of St. Cloud. Even though the relic is nearly 1,500 years old, one can tell at first glance it is a piece of the saint’s spine. The vertebra was given to Bishop Joseph Busch in 1922 when he visited Saint-Cloud, France, to attend the 14th centenary celebration of St. Cloud’s birth. The other relic at St. Mary’s is a piece of St. Cloud’s clothing.


A relic of St. Cloud, a fragment of his vertebra, rests at St. Mary’s Cathedral in St. Cloud. Photo by Sue Schulzetenberg-Gully/The Visitor

“Relics are important to us because we firmly believe in the resurrection of the dead,” said Father Tony Oelrich, rector of St. Mary’s Cathedral and pastor of St. Augustine Parish and Christ Church Newman Center, all of St. Cloud. “St. Cloud was a real human being. The relics mediate to us the presence of St. Cloud. He can still intercede for us.”

The vertebra is one of the largest relics of the sixth-century saint from France. St. Cloud’s vertebra and arm were the major bones that survived the French Revolution when the church was demolished and the other remains of St. Cloud were thrown into a fire, according to “The Spirit in Central Minnesota” by Msgr. Vincent Yzermans.

Other locations

In addition to St. Cloud’s relics at St. Mary’s Cathedral, a few other relics of the saint can be found in the diocese. A bone fragment is kept in a small shrine in the entrance of Christ the King Church in Cambridge. The relic is visible through the glass of the shrine.

Father James Hahn, who died in August and lived in Cambridge for 21 years, gifted the relic to the parish about five years ago. It was placed in the shrine along with a statue of St. Cloud, which was also Father Hahn’s property. Above the relic is a framed letter, dated Nov. 7, 1924, stating the relic’s authenticity.

Two other St. Cloud relics are kept at the chancery in St. Cloud. They are not accompanied with papers of authenticity, so what they are and their history is unclear.


Another bone fragment relic of St. Cloud can be viewed in a shrine in Christ the King Church in Cambridge. Photo by Sue Schulzetenberg-Gully/The Visitor

Relics are divided into classes. According to the Catholic Education Resource Center, a first-class relic is a part of a saint’s body, a second-class relic is a piece of a saint’s clothing or something used by a saint, and a third-class relic is an object that has been touched to a first-class relic.

Although many miracles have been associated with relics, they are not magical or meant to be worshiped but should be treated with reverence and respect, said Benedictine Father Eric Hollas of St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, who was interviewed for a previous Visitor article.

Relics are reminders of the holy life of the saint, that the work of the Holy Spirit dwelt in the saint and that the saint did Christ’s work, Father Hollas said.