Enter devoutly, O Pilgrim, for no place is holier than this on the New Continent
The first relics were brought to the area by Fr. Francis de Sales Brunner, who founded most of the local churches and convents, bringing priests, brothers and sisters of the Precious Blood communities to America. After his death, the significant collection of his relics, including a Calendar of Relics, and the bodily remains of St. Victoria, were under the care of the Sisters. In 1870, Pope Pius IX gave Fr. J. M. Garner, a priest from Milwaukee, 175 relics for safekeeping in the New World. When he brought them to America, his original intent was to have a kind of traveling exhibit. But the faithful wanted them kept together, and suggested finding a permanent place for the collection. When he heard about the many relics under the care of the Sisters of the Precious Blood, he approached the Sisters, and together they gathered all of the relics into one collection, and we became the Shrine of the Holy Relics in 1875.
Beneath it lies a figure of Christ in the tomb, the Tabernacle in which is kept a relic of The True Cross and a relic of St. Peregrine (patron saint of cancer), and numerous radiant reliquaries that reminds us of the communion of saints.
The glass altar houses the collection of relics of Fr. Brunner. The main altar is home for the relics brought to Maria Stein by Fr. Gartner. The main altar’s central focus is a Relic of the True Cross. In the tabernacle of this altar there are two relics which can be taken down and prayed with: a second relic of the True Cross, and one of St. Peregrine, the patron saint of those with cancer. A highlight of the Sorrowful Mother altar, on the left, is the relics of St. Ursula and Companions, in the base of the altar. In the same area of the Sacred Heart altar is the remains of St. Victoria, a martyr of the early Church (c.304), covered with wax. On the east wall, opposite the glass altar of Fr. Brunner’s collection, are two cases: St. Gaspar case and the Memorial case, both housing more recently acquired relics arranged in clusters of interest.