MADISON LAKE — People outside the Catholic faith might not know that owning relics is rare.
So when asked if it was unusual for the late Father Syl Brown to have collected a dozen of them in his lifetime, Father Robert Schneider of All Saints Catholic Church in Madison Lake gave pause.
“It’s not common at all,” he said. “I don’t have a single one, and I don’t know a priest who does. … I don’t know of a church that has more than one or two.”
That statement sheds some light on the historical value of the gift Brown bestowed on the church. Schneider and Brown grew very close, and during the time before his death from cancer, Brown told his friend that he wished to leave his collection of relics to All Saints.
All are special, Schneider said. But several are especially impressive, including that of Saint Joseph, a carpenter and foster father of Jesus. He was a descendant from David the King of Israel.
Another is of Saint Elizabeth, the wife of Zachariah, the mother of St. John the Baptist and cousin to Mary.
Brown and Schneider discussed displaying the relics so they wouldn’t “end up in a drawer,” Schneider said. It meant a great deal to Brown to know the relics that were so meaningful to him would be honored after he died.
But Brown couldn’t have imagined the lengths to which people connected to the church would go to honor them.
Margie Mountain, Brown’s sister, and James and Dorothy Cerven came up with a plan and donated the funds to commission oil paintings and have the small relics placed at the bottom of each wooden frame. An anonymous man designed and made the frames to the contour of the church windows and Stations of the Cross. And artists Jerry Schaefer, Patricia Jerde and Dorothy Wolff (the Cervens’ daughter) created the 2-foot by 4-foot works of art.