From early Church history and custom, the Mass was celebrated on the tombs of martyrs, either in the Catacombs, or on altars that contained relics of martyrs. St. Mary’s church has two reliquaries and an altar stone in a special box in the center of the altar.
The Cylinder Reliquary
The relics in this sealed receptacle come from two martyred saints. These relics were presented to St. Mary’s by +Samuel Cardinal Stritch on September 30, 1930. This was the date and ceremony that involved the consecration of the Church.
The Cross Reliquary
Donated to St. Mary’s by the Pastor, Fr. Philip Feltman, this reliquary contains relics from eleven saints, five of whom were martyrs.
The Altar Stone
The box in the altar also contains an altar stone. This stone is documented and contains the relics of two martyrs.
The Cylinder Reliquary
MCMXXX, die XVmensis Septembris Ego Samuel Alphonsus , Archiepiscopus Designatus Milwauchiensis, Administrator Dioecesis Toletanae in America, consecravi Ecclasiam et altare hoc in honorem Beatissimae Virginis Mariae et Reliquias Sanctorum Martyrum Gaudiosi et Verecundi in eo conclusi, et singuli Christi fidelibus hodie unum annum et in die anniversario consecrationis hujusmodi ipsam visitatantibus quadraginta dies de vera Indulgentia, in forma Ecclesia consueta concessi.
+Samuel A. Stritch
Archiepiscopus Designatus Milwaucheniensis
1930, on the 15th of the month of September, I, Samuel Alphonsis, Archbishop Designate of Milwaukee, Administrator of the Diocese of Toledo in America, consecrated this church and the altar in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Relics of the Saint – Martyrs Gaudiosus and Verecundus which I herein enclose. And to each one of the faithful of Christ who visits within one year from today, or on the anniversary of the consecration itself, 40 days of true Indulgence, as is Church custom.
Archbishop Designate of Milwaukee
St. Gaudiosus – Bishop and Martyr
Feast Day: October 27
Bishop called “the African.” He was the bishop of Abitina in North Africa, exiled by Geiseric, the Vandal king, in 440. Gaudiosus went to Naples, Italy, where he founded a monastery.
St. Verecundus – Bishop and Martyr
Feast Day: October 22
Bishop of Verona, Italy. The details of his labors are lost but the Goths ruled Verona at the time.
The Cross Reliquary
St. Philip – Apostle and Martyr
Feast Day: May 3
Philip, Galilean from Bethsaida, was one of the twelve apostles chosen by Jesus in the Gospels. It is Philip who asks the Messiah to procure food for the crowd before the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. Philip said to Jesus “Show us the Father.” Receiving the response, “He that hath seen me has seen the Father.” The rest of Philip’s story has been handed down and collected in The Golden Legend, according to which Philip died a martyr at Hierapolis, stoned and then crucified. He is depicted in art with a tunic and pallium, sometimes with a cross or dragon.
St. Illumina – Virgin
Feast Day: November 29
Virgin of Todi, Italy. She has traditionally been venerated in Todi and was revered for her holiness. Few details of her life exist.
St. Simplicius – Pope
Feast Day: March 2
The first pope depicted with a square nimbus in a contemporary mosaic, St. Simplicius was born in Tivoli and was elected to the papacy in 468. In 476, the last emperor of the Western Empire was deposed, and Odoacer the Goth became the first king of Italy and a Roman patrician. Simplicius opposed monothelitism and built churches. He wanted to maintain papal authority in the Western Empire in spite of the collapse of civil authority. Simplicius died, after a long illness, in 483.
St. Liberata – Virgin and Martyr
Feast Day: July 20
Died: c. 140
Daughter of the governor of Galicia and Lusitania, Liberata and her eight sisters were born on the same day in 119 while their father was away from home. Fearing that her husband would suspect her of infidelity, their mother Calsia gave the girls to their wet nurse with instructions that she should drown them. The nurse kept the babies alive and they were baptized by St. Ovidius and educated in the Christian faith. With the outbreak of the persecution under Emperor Hadrian, the girls were condemned by their own father. Liberata suffered martyrdom on the cross, around 140. In art, Liberata is presented crucified and is invoked to drive away melancholy thoughts and to summon peace and serenity.
St. Optatus – Bishop
Feastday: June 4
Bishop of Milevis, Numidia, in Africa. A convert from paganism, he is best known for his opposition to the heresy of Donatism and his six treatises composed against them. One of them, against Parmenian, is still used, and was mentioned by St. Jerome in his De Viris Illustribus. The treatise stresses the need for unity and is conciliatory in tone, but it criticized Donatist teachings on Baptism, and stresses that the Church cannot be limited to Africa, but is “catholic.” Optatus was much praised by such contemporaries as Augustine and Fulgentius of Ruspe.
St. Boniface – Bishop and Martyr
Feastday: June 5
Boniface was born in England around 672. A Benedictine monk, he left his homeland to spread the Gospel in the still pagan regions of Europe. With the encouragement of Pope Gregory II, he brought the Gospel to the Germanic lands. Named bishop, he was also the organizer of the growing Church, designating bishops and founding monasteries, including his favorite at Fulda. He died in 754 in Friesland, struck down by pagan hands. He is the patron saint of Germany. He is depicted in Episcopal vestments and may hold a Bible pierced by a sword.
St. Jucundus – Martyr
Feastday: December 14
Died: c. 420
An army of barbarians ravaging part of Gaul plundered the city of Rheims. Nicasius, the Bishop, had foretold this calamity to his flock in consequence of a vision, and urged them to prepare for the visitation by works of penance. When he saw the enemy at the gates and in the streets he went from door to door encouraging all to patience and constancy. When the people asked him whether they should yield or fight to the end he replied, “Let us aide the mercy of God and pray for our enemies. I am ready to give myself for my people.” Standing at the door of his church, trying to save the lives of the townspeople, he exposed himself to the swords of the infidels, who cut off his head. St. Florentius, his deacon, and St. Jucundus, his lector, were massacred by his side.
St. Alphonsus – Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Feastday: August 1
Born near Naples in 1696, Alphonsus began a legal career, but gave it up to dedicate himself to God. He was ordained a priest in 1726 and did mission work among the lower classes of Naples. He founded the congregation of the Holy Redeemer, known as the Redemptorists, dedicated to preaching to the rural poor and common people. In 1762, he was named bishop; he died in 1787 and was canonized in 1839. He was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius IX in 1871. His writings on moral, theological, and ascetic matters had great impact and have survived through the years, especially his Moral Theology and his Glories of Mary. He is depicted in priest or Episcopal vestments, always in an attitude of prayer.
The Altar Stone
Auctoritate Rev. mi Ordinarii Cincinnatensis Caroli J. Alter, D.D., vi facultatum Apostolicarum quinquennalium Josepho J. Schneider per letteras datas die 17a Novembris, 1950, communicata, formula brevi consueta, inclusis reliquiis S. Cleti, M. et S. Theclae, M. hac die 26a Maii, 1960, ic lapsis rite consecratus est a me ab eodem Josepho J. Schneider delegato.
Robert H. Krumholtz
Loosely translated, this is in response to a letter from Joseph J. Schneider (director of the seminary) indicating that +Carl J. Alter, Bishop of Cincinnati, presented this stone with the relics of St. Cletus, martyr and St. Thecla, martyr to Joseph J. Schneider on the 26th of May, 1960.
St. Cletus – Pope and Martyr
Feastday: April 26
A convert of St. Peter, who ordained him, St. Cletus was the third bishop of Rome, and succeeded St. Linus, which circumstance alone shows his eminent virtue among the first disciples of St. Peter in the West. He sat twelve years, from 76 to 89. The canon of the Roman mass and other martyrologists style him a martyr. He was buried near St. Linus on the Vatican.
St. Thecla – Virgin and Martry
Feastday: September 23
Died: 1st C.
St. Thecla of Iconium, Christian saint of Asia Minor, said to have been the first woman martyr. St. Thecla is known in the apocryphal Acts of Paul and Thecla as “Protomartyr among women and equal to the Apostles.” Converted by St. Paul, she dedicated herself to virginity. Condemned to death for her faith, she was miraculously saved. St. Thecla is one of the most famous saints of the Greek Church.