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Exhibition Of Relics Uncovers Rich Catholic History

A five-day exhibition at The Arts Centre in Christchurch will invite people into a journey through centuries of Catholic history as relics buried beneath the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament are showcased for the first time.

The “Saints in Coffee Jars” exhibition, the title of which offers an insight into where some of the ancient relics were found, is a collaboration between the Catholic Diocese of Christchurch and the University of Canterbury.

It runs from February 6-10 at Pūmanawa Gallery at The Arts Centre.

Diocesan archivist Triona Doocey said the exhibition will explore the rich history of relics, spanning two millennia, and help people to understand their significant impact on people’s culture and faith.

Mrs Doocey said given the sacred nature of the relics, it was quite a shock to find them in coffee jars. They were a pragmatic and practical choice though, she said.

“From a preservation perspective, the watertight containers served their purpose and have allowed us decades later to retrace some of our cathedral’s and our diocese’s history,” she said.

“It has been quite an educational experience, trying to identify the saints and learn a bit about their stories, which ‘Saints in Coffee Jars’ will explore.”

The exhibition will also reveal some of the characteristics of Christchurch’s first bishop, John Grimes SM.

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“Bishop Grimes not only oversaw the construction of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament on Barbadoes St, but also played a pivotal role as a civic leader, impacting diverse areas, from education to animal welfare,” Mrs Doocey said.

“In addition to delving into the world of relics, you can also explore the enduring impact of this fascinating individual at the ‘Saints in Coffee Jars’ exhibition.”

Mrs Doocey said she was grateful for the work of Associate Professor Chris Jones at the University of Canterbury and exhibition designers Bread Design for their assistance with the project.

A website documenting the Cathedral Collection of Relics –

– will be launched on February 6 to coincide with the exhibition opening.

© Scoop Media

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