Relic

DEFINITION

An object or a custom that remains from a previous time or culture. Something prized for its age or historic interest, especially something that can be linked to a particular person, place or event. Or, an object of religious veneration, especially a piece of the body of a holy person, or of an object associated with one. In the Christian tradition, relics were especially important throughout the Middle Ages. In the tradition of the Roman Catholic Church, relics of the saints and other holy persons, as well as bits of the crown of thorns, the true cross, and other objects associated with holy persons, are prized for those associations. A container for a relic is a reliquary, also called a feretory. A feretory is also the area of a church in which relics are kept.Material culture and other objects are also called relics when they have survived a long time. Some such objects used by educators to help students to understand other cultures and real life situations might also be called realia. A library's collection might contain a piece of realia for its association with a great author, or with an event. Imagine the thrill of possessing Shakespeare's eraser, or the applecore from the Garden of Eden!(pr. RE-lək)Quote: "These unanticipated acquisitions are referred to in the trade [by librarians] variously as personal effects, ephemera, artifacts, memorabilia, and perhaps most evocatively, realia." Lev Grossman, "Catalog This: Dante's dust, Poe's hair, Taft's underwear. Oh, my, what's a librarian to do?" April 14, 2002, New York Times, Education Life section, page 26.Also see artifacts, cathedral, found objects, kitsch, memorabilia, and reliquary.

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