New Brunswick

Rare religious relics found in attic of Bay du Vin home

A Saint John woman is looking for help with what may be an extraordinary discovery in her father's attic.

Reliquaries may contain remains of saints and be up to 500 years old, says archaeologist

Religious shrines found in attic may be 500 years old. 1:52

A Saint John woman is looking for help with what may be an extraordinary discovery in her father's attic.

The two archaeological finds could be up to 500 years old.

Kelly Williston's father found what are apparently reliquaries — religious shrines containing what could be the remains of saints — in the attic of his childhood home in Bay du Vin after recently buying it back from a German family.

"He went looking in the attic, just to see what was up there," said Williston.

"There were lots of neat things and these were in a garbage bag, wrapped in Saran Wrap each and stuffed into one garbage bag."

Williston's father initially put them in his barn. He thought they were Christmas decorations.

But when Williston's mother noticed what appeared to be bones, Williston decided to take them to Saint John to find out more.

They don't look like Made in China ornaments.- Kelly Williston

"I knew right away that there was something there," she said.

"They don't look like Made in China ornaments."

Williston initially asked some local nuns to take a look.

"They lovingly looked at them and said, 'Nuns made this,'" said Williston.

"So that was very nice to hear."

Williston also spoke with people at the New Brunswick Museum, a jeweler, a Catholic cleric and archaeologist Chelsea Colwell-Pasch.

Vatican and Interpol contacted

Colwell-Pasch said she has tried to contact the Vatican to see if they may be aware of the relics.

"A worry of ours is that these are on some sort of war crime looters list," said Colwell-Pasch.

"I've contacted Interpol as well."

The archaeologist estimates the relics are probably between 200 and 500 years old.

Williston has so far failed to find the German family who left them behind.

She says if they end up in a museum, she wants them to be on view. 

She says her biggest concern is they end up in the right hands and no matter what happens, she doesn't want to profit from the find.

"I kind of have this romance that they will go back over there and some church will become well-known again, and it will bring more people."​

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