Relics on the altar

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: I have a question about relics on the altar table. Is there a document that forbids to place relics on the altar table for Mass. e.g. in between the altar candles? Thank you.

Likewise, when relics of saints are exposed for veneration, they should not be placed on the table of the altar. – No. 10 of the introduction to the Roman Pontifical’s “Order of Dedication of a Church and an Altar.”


A: Relics may not be placed on the altar. See Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments 2001 n. 237.

The GIRM treats the incensation of relics at 277, and it seems to presume that these are not on the altar because the altar is incensed separately.