It has been tradition within the Catholic Church to include mementos of venerated saints in both churches and cathedrals. More than just art work, objects are included that the saints touched or in this case, a small part of the remains of a saint is placed beneath the altar. It's known as a relic.
The fixtures are being moved into place including the carved statues imported from Italy. These items are clues to one of the most traditional elements of any cathedral, the relics which are the bits of bones of a saint.
"In the earliest days of the church when Christians were persecuted, they'd have to celebrate the mass on the tombs of the martyrs, those who died for the faith, those early Christians," said Father Troy Gately, a Sacred Heart Parish Priest.
In the new co-cathedral are statues of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first American born saint, and Saint Therese. Their relics will probably resemble what Father Gately already has in his own collection, tiny pieces of bone certified as authentic by the Vatican.
More relics may be included in the co-cathedral as well. Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza requested one from an early Roman martyr be included. Linking a modern cathedral back through time to when Christian worship began a long unbroken chain.
"And it's not a continuity between the ages that as we gather around the altar over the bodies of the saints, the relics that we're connected to what they're doing in heaven," he said.
The relics of Saint Elizabeth and Saint Therese are now in possession of the archdiocese. Their installation beneath the altar will be part of the co-cathedral dedication on April 2. Building a new cathedral is extremely rare. It usually happens once every 500 years or so.
Coming up Friday night at 8pm, we have an abc13 special presentation of Creating Houston's New Co-Cathedral. Come along as we take you throughout Italy to show you where many of the treasures of the new cathedral will come from.