In period, Christians placed great store in relics, often travelling on pilgrimage to venerate them. Every major church had at least one relic, and the more important the saint, the more potent the relic. Possession of a particularly important relic was a guarantee of income for a monastery, church or even a secular lord, as pilgrims would travel great distances (and leave significant offerings for the privilege of seeing it).
Trade in relics was also important in period, and therefore the existence of fraudulent relics was quite common.
A receptacle which holds a relic is called a reliquary.
Relics in the SCA
While the SCA forbids overt religous display at its events, it is not unheard of for a household, or even a barony or kingdom to hold certain "relics" as important. Typically these relics are either items with significant local history, such as the Rings of the Iron Companions of the Barony of Septentria or silly items such as The Holy Ribbon of Saint Tenacious.
Famous Period Relics