Baltimore's Walters Art Museum is currently running an exhibit titled "Treasures of Heaven: Saints, Relics, and Devotion in Medieval Europe." The Walters' online catalogue for the exhibit includes a number of shrines and reliquaries.
Jesuit author James Martin tells USA Today he understands such things could have limited appeal, but that as a category, relics still maintain relevance as windows into the profound - even if the window's facing an unorthodox scene, or is pointed more toward pop culture.
"Relics remind us that saints are real people — not mythological figures, but real flesh-and-blood human beings," Martin said.
The Walters museum provides a book where visitors can write their reflections on the exhibit. Thoughts range from reverent to wacky. "Google is my relic," wrote one visitor.
"Relics still freak most people out," Martin said, "but if you check on eBay" — where sellers proffer Michael Jackson's shirt and locks of Elvis Presley's hair — "the idea of wanting to connect physically with someone you admire is not so strange."