In the 16th century a Carmelite monk died in relative dishonor shortly after getting out of a monastic prison (yes, there were such things.) He was 49 years old. After his death the popularity of his strikingly profound poetry drew a large following, and most of his body was removed to Segovia where it joined a collection of relics including a sliver from the cross and a charred twig from Moses' burning bush.
Strange as it sounds to our ears, the practice of venerating relics had a logic behind it. The saints from whom these artifacts trace their history were believed to have built up a surplus of merit with God, and those who in true faith venerated the relics could tap into that great storehouse of holiness to help cover some of their own lack.
This Sunday Leslie Hindman Auctioneers of Chicago will sell a bunch of hair purported to have been clipped from the head of Elvis Presley during his time in the military went to auction, along with a host of other elvis paraphenalia. They came from the collection of Elvis' friend and Gary Pepper, who died without heir and left it to his nurse.
The bids will tell whether we do not still believe in relics!