Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Only the Vatican Has More Christian Relics Than Pittsburgh

Troy Hill, population 3,000, is situated on a small plateau overlooking Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It’s a historically German, but quintessentially Pittsburghian, neighborhood characterized by cozy row houses, gritty neighborhood bars, cool new restaurants, and lovingly decorated front porches bedecked with Steelers flags and flower baskets. But there is more in Troy Hill than meets the eye.

At 1704 Harpster Street sits St. Anthony’s chapel, which houses the second-largest collection of Christian relics in existence after the Vatican. Within the greige brick facade are the bones, blood, teeth, ashes, hair, and personal belongings of the holiest members of the Christian church: the apostles, saints and martyrs. There are approximately 5,000 relics in total.

Inside the church, the eye is first drawn to a ceiling painted with religious symbols and names and then to tall walnut cases displaying hundreds of metal artifacts behind glass. There are miniature metal churches, monstrances, chasses (caskets), and medallions pinned to burgundy velvet. Each ornament contains a tiny, mysterious particle, tied in red embroidery thread and sealed with wax, which can be viewed through a clear glass or crystal aperture. There are what look like fingernail slivers and jagged pieces of porous grey bone. Some hold bits of cloth stained with drops of dried brown liquid.
continue at Atlas Obscura

HT Virginia


  1. Beautiful!! I'd be willing to bet that Philip II's El Escorial Monastery in Spain has more relics though. He brought thousands of relics there from all over Northern Europe in the 1500s to avoid their destruction in the Reformation. ( I have a book on El Escorial, so I'll double check but I think it has well over 5,000 relics. Great post.

  2. Yes, El Escorial has 7,000+ relics. You'll find a bunch of articles online in Spanish on the beautiful monastery.


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