In the days of Christian persecution, Mass was celebrated in the Catacombs of Rome. The Catacombs of Rome are underground burial places for all religions and were developed mainly because of a shortage of land around the city of Rome. These underground burial sites became the secure place for the early Christian’s to celebrate Mass. Mass was frequently celebrated on top of the tombs of Christian’s who died during Christian persecutions of Rome.
As Christianity began to spread throughout Europe, it became a tradition to take relics of the Saints of Rome and have them placed in the Altars of new churches. Celebrating the Mass on an Altar containing relics shows us the connection of the Church Triumphant, the Church Suffering, and the Church Militant. This tradition of celebrating Mass on altars with relics of Saints continues to this day. On the day of our Altar Consecration, Bishop Kemme placed the relics of five saints in our Altar.
When Bishop McKnight began the process of the design of a New Altar, he contacted a friend at the Nunciature to ask for relics to be placed in our new altar. Bishop McKnight was able to secure five relics of Saints: St. Mary Magdalen, St. Peter, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. Maria Goretti, and St. Vincent de Paul.
These Saints were specifically chosen for the new altar. St. Mary Magdalen was selected as a follower of Jesus and the namesake of our church. St. Peter represents our connection back to Rome. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is the patron saint of Catholic Schools. St. Maria Goretti is the patron saint of the modern youth. St. Vincent de Paul is for our St. Vincent de Paul Society that does so much for our parish and our community at large.