Relics of saints and martyrs were attributed with miraculous powers and treasured in early medieval times. Pilgrims seeking a cure for an illness or redemption for sin would endure the bad food, tedium, and dangers of travel to pray in the physical presence of a saint. And in their gratitude, they would give alms to the churches that housed the relics.
Abbots and bishops would go through great expense to obtain a relic, and outright thievery, called pious fraud, was not out of the question.
Still, I must admit some surprise when I learned two churchmen, Sts. Lull and Sturm, quarreled over who got St. Boniface’s relics. Both men had been close to the martyr, which makes the story similar to brothers arguing over an inheritance.
But argue they did, and the fight didn’t end when the relics were housed in Sturm’s abbey in Fulda.
For more about the dispute, read my post at English Historical Fiction Authors.
Daily Life in the World of Charlemagne, by Pierre Riché, translated by Jo Ann McNamara