Going Home and Bringing Back a Mystery
Posted July 12, 2017 by Prairie Wife - 8 comments
If you follow us on Instagram or Facebook you know that I just returned from a quick visit to my hometown of Milwaukee. It was a quick trip and I only took two of the Cowkids. It was simply too expensive to fly all of them (and a rent a car for my herd) and, it’s a fun way for The Cowboy and I to get to spend a little more one on one time with the Cowkids. We saw lots of family and friends and I ate more than my share of brats and cheese.
Ma has been doing some purging and had a few items for me to take. One of them was this…
Does anyone know what it is…or what’s inside it?
They are relics.
A relic is a piece of the body of a saint, an item owned or used by the saint, or an object which has been touched to the tomb of a saint.
You can read more about relics and the veneration of relics by following this link.
How did my family get these?
We’ve always been pretty hard core Catholics on both sides of my family tree. My maternal Grandfather was actually a monk and was striving for priesthood when WWII broke out. He left the monastery to enlist in the Army, and was eventually shipped overseas to India and China. While in China, he was a surgical technician with a port hospital and performed emergency work directly behind the front.
A newspaper clipping we found said “Corp, Uebelher might well hold the title, “part-time priest.” In the absence of a chaplain Uebelher, formally a student for the Catholic priesthood, conducted weekly services on the ships which brought him to his China base. Now, in the mountains of Western China, which is rarely visited by the chaplains stationed 70 miles away, Uebelher conducts regular Sunday night services.”
I had often heard a story about him meeting some nuns while in China. They asked him to baptize a baby that had been abandon on their doorstep. He named the baby Moses, and when he came back to check on him a few days later the nuns were confused when he asked how the baby boy was doing. It turns out it had been a girl! Sadly the baby passed away. Grandpa always said that he knew there would be a mad little girl named Moses waiting for him in heaven!
Our family history states that these same nuns knew of the impending Communism in China, which meant strong uncertainty for Catholics, specifically the clergy and other religious. They gave the relics to my grandfather and asked him to keep them safe.
They were given to my mother by my grandmother and she gave them to me.
We spent some time with a magnifying glass and Google and identified three of the Saints whose relics are in the reliquary. Saint Augustin Schoeffler, Saint Francis Jaccard, and Saint Auguste Chapdelaine. The other labels were just too hard for us to decipher but, I’ll be working on that.
Here is the mystery, and I’d love any advice and help from you, my readers.
It’s a super sin (totally a legit phrase) to sell relics, and I have no desire whatsoever to do that.
But, I do want to see if there is anyway we can get them back to their home.
Here are the facts:
- The relics were given to my grandpa in China in 1945 ish
- He was stationed in/near Nanking China and was at a Catholic memorial (Sun Yat Sen Memorial) in Oct of 1945
- He attended a three day retreat at a Jesuit mission near that same time.
- The mother superior of the convent at that time was Sister St. George.
I have no idea the name of the convent, or if it still exists.
If it doesn’t, I’d like to know what order of sisters lived there.
My hope is that if I can’t get the relics back to the exact convent I an at least return them to the same order.
What do you think?!
Any ideas of where I should start looking?
How can I make sure that the relics and the reliquary are authentic (there is an unreadable wax seal on the back)?
Or should I just keep them in my family…or donate them to our local parish?
Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!
Categories: Life As It Happens, Prairie Life
Tags: , catholic, China, family, family history, martyrs, Mystery, Nanking, nuns, relics, research, saints, WWII
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8 thoughts on "Going Home and Bringing Back a Mystery"
Wow, very interesting story. This is tricky, good questions though to start. Naturally you can go out to Facebook and post this story. People might come back with info on other places to investigate but my cynical mind worries you might find someone saying you should not own this.
I can see donating it to your local church as a good option. Your local priest might be able to help you with this investigation too.
I hear you on people being upset, that’s why I made it clear that I want to find where it belongs…and will not be selling it (super sin lol). I’m interested to hear what out local clergy say, I’ve already messaged this to my priest. I’ll be keeping readers posted 😉
Ed said the convent in all likelihood no longer exists in China. Look for the order, if you know what it is, in Taiwan. That’s where many Catholics have gone to avoid Communism in China. He says there are no Jesuit or Jesuit associated sisters. My input-research the saints. Perhaps one of them founded or is associated with an order and you could go that route because religious orders are very good at keeping history. If all else fails, Ed says you can donate them to a parish here or in Tiaiwan.
I figured about the convent…good lead to try Taiwan and research the saints. They were in Indo China and martyrs (beheaded) I didn’t think to look and see if they are associated with any order. Thanks 🙂
This is so cool- and I’m going to start calling all mortal sins super sins lol. I’d research the saints and see if there’s any organization that is connected to them or their patronages.
Otherwise your parish would be a good choice to donate- your children will always know the story of how these faithful nuns protected their sacred objects and it might develop into a devotion for your parish!
I knew I should trade mark “super sins” 😉 thanks for the great insight, and thanks for stopping by 🙂
Maybe send an email to the bishop of your diocese. They might be able to get you in touch with Catholic missionaries in China who could have info on the convent. Please keep me posted on this. Relics have always fascinated me. Thank you for keeping them safe. Oh! And keep a written account of the history with the relic at all times.
We’ve inquired through several Jesuit university since I posted this and no responses yet. I think I need to hole up for a day and find as many current convents in Asia as I can and reach out to them and see what happens! And thanks for the idea about keeping an account of the story with them, I’ll print this out and put it with them.