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Catholic Dictionary




Honor paid to representations of Christ and the saints. Their purpose is to adorn, instruct, and excite to piety those who behold, wear, or carry images on their persons. According to the Council of Trent, images of Christ, of the Mother of God, and other canonized saints are to be kept in churches and due honor paid to them not because there is any divinity or power inherent in them as images, but because the honor shown to them is referred to the prototypes they represent. Through the worship and reverence so shown, the faithful really worship Christ and honor the saints whose likenesses they display. In other words, the veneration is relative, always being referred back to the original, never absolute as though the material object is being venerated in and for itself.