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.
If you’ve accumulated many of these and you want to be sure to dispose of them then keep reading!
Was it blessed by a priest?
The first thing to determine is whether or not the item has been blessed by a priest. If so, that means it’s been set apart for use in worshiping God and is a holy item that should be disposed of properly.
What do you do if you are unsure if they are blessed? Well, generally you should be on the safe side and if you’re not sure then treat it as if it was blessed.
Here are four things you can do with your religious items…
If Someone Else Can Use Them
Give it as a gift
One option, if they are still useable, is to give your Catholic items away to other people who could use them.
If you can’t find any takers there are other options.
Leave it at Church
Often times parishes have a ‘take a rosary, leave a rosary’ type area at the back of the church. If your parish has one of these spaces then you can leave your item there so someone else can use it.
Additionally, if your parish has an adoration chapel there might be something similar where you can leave holy cards and rosaries for others to use while they pray.
Don’t just leave it randomly in the pew for someone else to deal with 🙂
If it isn’t appropriate to give the item away then you have two options to dispose of your Catholic religious items in a respectful way. It is not a sin to throw away blessed items, but out of proper respect, one should dispose of them one of the following ways.
Burn the Item
One proper method of disposal of votive candles and other devotionals, if they have been blessed, is to burn them. Burning them is considered a respectful way to dispose of your religious items that were blessed by a priest.
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.
Bury the Item
The other proper method of disposal of sacramentals and devotionals is to bury them in the ground.
Burying the holy items is considered a respectful way of disposing of something that has been blessed.
Not Blessed by a Priest?
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 or bury them as well.