How to Dispose of Religious Items

As a Catholic, collecting sacramentals such as votive candles, religious pictures, rosaries (which sometimes break), medals, palm branches and other misc. religious items is fairly common. What do you do if you are unsure if they are blessed?

One option, if they are still useable, is to give them away to other people who could use them. If you can’t find any takers there are other options.

Respectful disposal

The proper disposal of votive candles and other devotionals, if they have been blessed, is to burn or to bury them, most preferably the former in the case of candles. Letting candles burn down entirely, or, if this presents a hazard should the glass candle holders break, burn them by themselves.

It is not a sin to throw away blessed items, but out of proper respect, one should dispose of them in this way. If devotionals have not been blessed, such as some of the holy cards and such that come through the mail, those are simply pictures and can be thrown away.

If you feel uncomfortable throwing them away, you can burn them as well.


  1. TJ says

    I have a statue of st expedite which is not blessed and I wish to dispose of it for personal reasons. What is the best way to do this? Can I just leave it somewhere for someone who might want it or just bury it?

  2. Elizabeth says

    What about disposal of plastic containers that once contained blessed and exorcised salt or holy water? The salt and water was blessed while in the container. Thank you.

  3. Mary K. Ruuso says

    I ned a specific address to send old religious items, I am afraid of starting a fire in my backyard. Please help!!

  4. Linda says

    you mentioned religious objects are discarded by burning or burying. Is it okay to break them into pieces before you do this?

  5. Patti Barnes says

    We have been collecting overflow of religious items (handed down, received in mail as unsolicited etc). The parishioners have left misselets and prayer books as well prayer cards and necklaces. We have been taken them to long term facility. They don’t want a lot of the things. Where can we send these things in USA? I read that chaplains for army in Iraq but no info on how to get things to them. Also, another person said that prison chaplains would like the reading items but again, no further info. Can you help us?

  6. Anne says

    Luisa: broken statues or holy pictures are traditionally buried. Steven; the source is based on agreed practices concerning the proper disposal of Sacramentals, since the early inception of the Church. CCC 1676 “At its core the piety of the people is a storehouse of values that offers answers of Christian wisdom to the great questions of life. The Catholic wisdom of the people is capable of fashioning a vital synthes.” Christian life is nourished by various forms of popular piety, rooted in the different cultures to enrich and help extend our liturgical expression. Elizabeth: of course you can mix the holy waters.

  7. Luisa Carmela Donataccio says

    Could you please advise of how to respectfully dispose of statues or frames Holy pictures if they can’t be burnt

    • Richard Ketchum says

      When a material sacramental becomes so worn that it can no longer be used as a sacramental, one should not casually toss it into the trash. To prevent desecration, the sacramental should be returned to the earthly elements. Holy water, for example, should be poured into a hole dug in the earth, in a spot no one would walk over. Combustible sacramentals, such as scapulars and holy books, should be burned and then buried. Larger sacramentals that do not burn should be altered so that their form no longer appears to be a sacramental (for example, a statue should be broken up into small pieces) and then buried. Objects made of metals can be melted down and used for another purpose.

  8. M3gn says

    I have no specific religion.. In fact tho, I agree with many different Christian base religions.. And likewise several things that I am confused by.. Not at all that I disagree.. I just don’t yet understand.. I was raised Episcopal.. But have found more comfort in many Catholic churches or simple worship centers.. I have been to several churches around my state of Alaska… But none of them have been able to “speak” to me.. Is any of this wrong or conflicting? What should I do?

    • Margaret says

      You might find it helpful if you visited it explains many things about Christ and His Church and would clear up a lot of confusion.
      I hope this helps. May God bless you.

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