The history of badge making doesn't begin in 1960 when the Fr. Solanus Guild was formed.
In gratitude for her husband's cure, Elenore made the commitment to spread devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She started making and distributing badges of the Sacred Heart. In order to make the plastic coverings, she needed a machine that could stamp out the holes so the edges could be sewn together. Elenore acquired a manual punch press which she set up in her dining room. Later, she obtained an electrical one weighing about seven tons and moved the workshop to her basement.
At first the plastic material was difficult to get because it was during World War II. She would scrape the image off x-ray films to use the plastic underneath. Her parents, husband, and foster children helped with the work.
All of this experience and expertise was in place when the Guild needed to increase production. In the early days, Dorothy Fletcher, a secretary for the Guild, organized members to hand punch the oval pictures and plastics. Elenore faithfully supplied the plastic pieces for many years.
Today, the badges are punched on a high-tech die-cutting machine that can produce up to 4,000 pieces per hour.
Each relic badge is carefully and individually assembled. Originally, the tiny piece of fabric was taken from Fr. Solanus' habit (2nd class relic). Around 1996-97 when this cloth was no longer available, we began using brown cloth that is blessed and touched to the tomb of Fr. Solanus (3rd class).
The swatch is then glued onto the backing:
At first, the two pieces were printed separately and each oval cut out by hand. Today they are printed double-sided on sheets and die-cut for easy punching.
This is encased between two "plastics" and the edges are crocheted together. Each badge is unique. It can be carried in a wallet or pocket. Some have a loop for pinning onto a hospital gown or threading a cord. It is a symbol of Fr. Solanus' faith as evidenced by his last words printed on the back: "I give my soul to Jesus Christ."
The relic badge is a reminder of Fr. Solanus. It is a tangible connection to the man who prays for us and intercedes with God for us when we ask.
A common misconception is that the 3rd class relics "aren't as good as" the originals, but one must remember that the cloth is not what brings about healing. It is our faith in God, the power of prayer, and our courage to act. At all times, it is good to remember that "we may not get what we want, but God always provides what we need."
Some folks grasp their badge in times of suffering, trial, or trouble. Holding it while enduring a medical procedure or undergoing a difficult situation helps to comfort us. The badge represents hope while rallying with our own faith.
Long and dedicated hours from hundreds of men and women have gone into making relic badges through the years, but those who are part of the process would agree that it is an honor, a form of prayer, and a good feeling to know that others may be helped in some way.
To date, over two million badges have been hand-made and given to faithful people throughout the world.
We are grateful to all who have contributed their time and energy to the process of badge making which is in demand today more than ever.
Relic badges are not for sale. "It is absolutely wrong to sell sacred relics" according to Canon Law.* We freely give them to those who ask. Our costs (production and postage) continue to increase; therefore we do appreciate donations to our ministry.
(313) 579-2100, ext 140 or 169
Actual size is an oval about 1.75" wide by 2.25" tall.
*Canon 1190: "Sacras reliquias vendere nefas est."
**1st and 2nd Class relics are not available
We strongly discourage the use of Ebay and other Internet sites for obtaining relic badges. We freely give them to anyone who asks.