'Relicmania' at London Diocese after article suggests they're liquidating relics

The London Diocese archivist said after an American Christian news agency wrote a story based on a CBC article on relics of dead saints in the diocese, 'relicmania' started. They were inundated with phone calls, emails and social media messages.

'People were willing to fly to Canada, to fly to our diocese to pick up a relic'

Archivist Debra Majer said after an American Christian news agency wrote a story based off a CBC article on relics in the diocese, 'relicmania' started. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

The Roman Catholic Diocese of London has been inundated with phone calls, emails and social media messages.

The deluge comes after a CBC article published earlier this month profiled the more than 250 relics — including fragments of bone and teeth that once belonged to revered Roman Catholics — expertly organized and catalogued by the the Roman Catholic Diocese of London,

Diocese archivist Debra Majer said she had a lot of nice feedback and a few requests for relics. But by the next week, an American Christian news agency wrote a story based on the original CBC article. That's when Majer said 'relicmania' started.

"They changed the headline and really manipulated the content," she said. "Their headline threw people into an absolute frenzy."

The headline stated the relics were being given away in Canada. That's true — kind of. But the staff meant to keep the relics in diocese or at least the country.

What proceeded was more phone calls to the diocese than the receptionist, who has been there for 14 years, had ever experienced.

Colours, styles and shapes all describe the saint each relic represents. 0:50

"The staff has all found a little humour in it," Majer said."I'm a little annoyed that the original article wasn't reproduced in its entirety and really in a sense manipulated people to think something different."

"I wouldn't have thought that relicmania would have occurred because of a headline that misrepresented an original article. It's insane," she added.

Even though she's disappointed with the American article, she said the experience was amazing. 

"People were willing to fly to Canada, to fly to our diocese to pick up a relic," said Majer.

The London Diocese had about 250 relics. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

A German news agency contacted her to say they would take all the relics and distribute them on her behalf.

She's heard personal stories from people in the U.S., had calls from Australia, Thailand and the campus ministry from Notre Dame in Indiana.

There were so many inquiries that Majer put an out-of-office message on her email saying "If you're inquiring about relics, there are none." Her voicemail is on Do Not Disturb, with a similar message. Even her LinkedIn has been bombarded with messages.

A document from 1782 saying this relic is real, but that might be a bit of a stretch. 0:29

Since the first article went up, about 15 relics have been distributed, with a few of them going to those working at the diocese.

"People in the office were like, 'Oh, didn't know about this.' So you even educated us in our own office," Majer said.

She's sending out more today to people in Canada. Majer hoped to keep them within the country, even just within the diocese area.

"We can't start sending parts of bones across to the United States or across the world," Majer said. "I can't even imagine what customs officials would do if they got ahold of that piece of mail."

About the Author

Stacey Janzer

Stacey Janzer was born and raised in Essex County. Self-described Canadian treasure. She currently works as a video journalist at CBC Windsor. Email her at Stacey.Janzer@cbc.ca.