wooden rosary on a bible

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 miscellaneous 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!

Questions To Ask Yourself Before Disposing Your Religious Items

Before parting ways with your religious items, it’s crucial to pause and reflect by asking yourself a few essential questions. These questions can guide your decision-making process, ensuring that you handle the items with the respect they deserve and choose an appropriate method of disposal.

Was Your Religious Item Blessed by a Priest?

The first thing to do is to determine is whether or not a priest has blessed the item. 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.

Can Someone Else Use This Item?

If the sacramental is in tact, nothing is wrong with it, and you think someone else can still use it, we highly suggest for you to donate the item to your local parish. 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. Just make sure you won’t just leave it randomly in the pew for someone else to deal with 🙂

Alternatively, you can ask some of your friends and family if they’ll be interested in taking them, they might be able to make use of the item or have someone in mind to share it with too.

how to dispose of your religious items

How To Do A Respectful Disposal For Religious Items

If finding a new home for the item isn’t feasible, you still have two dignified options for disposing of your Catholic religious items. While it’s not inherently sinful to discard blessed items, out of reverence, it’s advisable to handle their disposal with care, opting for one of the following respectful methods.

Dispose Your Religious Items By Burning Them

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.

Properly Dispose of Your Sacramentals By Burying Them

Another appropriate method for disposing of sacramentals and devotionals is to bury them in the ground. This act is deemed a respectful way to part with blessed items, honoring their sacred significance.

how to dispose of your religious items

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.

Catholic Practices

If you want to know more about the Catholic Faith and the different Catholic Practices, check out some of our posts that discuss the Catholic Church’s view on good works, cremation, and many more.

45 thoughts on “How to Dispose of Religious Items”

  1. What do you do with old copies of subscription mass reading books, like Magnificat or The Word Among Us? They were not blessed.

  2. Thank you for this. I have broken rosaries and old religious necklaces. Blessed but already very old and no longer used. God bless you and this Catholic website.

  3. My grandmother collected Madonna figurines. I want to keep a few but not the entire collection of 50+. What do you recommend?

  4. i have a post i used for prayer while officially transferring my religious practices from being catholic to going to a future Islamic church. Now i have to get rid of it because it isn’t going to be stored and it was there during an event that had dirty things. We want to keep disposal away from future religious purposes. please stay updated on this if it affects you because I’m sharing my decision to make this change properly. The post was really beneficial to have but it is also unfinished in its location so that also has to be taken into consideration while continuing religious practice without all of this following behind us.

  5. I am Penitito from the small island of Samoa, and my family are very devoted to the catholic church. Our parish is now looking for a 100 cm statue of Saint Joseph, as for every catholic church their should be a Statue of Mary, Jesus and Joseph. I also like to thank you for sharing special ways to do with damage statue and bibles.

  6. an elderly gentleman started a conversation with me at a restaurant the other night and when he realized I was Catholic, he gave me a scapular, prayer card, and a 2 qt. jug of holy water. He said the items were blessed, but I do not know this for a fact. I do not want the water or the items. Do I need to dispose of properly since I don’t even know if they were indeed blessed by a priest and if it was real holy water?

    1. The fact of the matter is God said such things were not to be made at all , and were not to be bowed down infront off , so it depends on who you want to obey ,and belive if its God burn them all

  7. Jeannine Buchannon

    Thanks to your cite I now know how to dispose of my statue of the Virgin Mary with a broken nose. I’ve been holding onto her for 10 years because I didn’t know what to do .
    Thank you!

  8. I have quite a few prayer cards some are old from when grandma passed, and some as young as seven years when Dad n Older brother passed.
    I need to know how I can recycle them as I do not want them anymore.
    Please, I’m not trying to be mean nor hateful, but it hurts having them around.
    Thank you for your help.

  9. Anita Lombardi Long

    I bought a beautiful rosary today. I have several. My favorite is the one my Mother carried at her wedding in 1956. It’s beautiful. My questions would be, my older son is Baptist. They do not use rosaries. My younger son isn’t very religious. What should they do with my rosaries once I pass. They won’t use them and I really don’t like the idea of them being thrown out. I want to be able to leave them some direction on what to do with them. Thank you for your answer.

    1. I gave my mom’s rosaries to close friends of my mom’s as keepsakes. They weren’t all Catholic but they all admired her devotion and I knew they would keep them with care.

    2. Not to sound morbid, but if you don’t have any relatives who would treasure it, you could set your mother’s rosary aside and let them know that you would like that rosary to be the one in your hands when you are buried. At every Catholic wake that I’ve attended, the deceased has had a rosary in their hands, and I’m assuming that they are buried with them. At least it would be better than having it thrown out. And when the Resurrection happens on the last day, you can greet the Lord with it in your hands!

    3. I work at a church office. Many times “disadvantaged” people come in looking for a rosary. We give them rosaries that have been donated to us – many in like circumstances where family members do not appreciate them. The persons that receive them are so grateful that they now have a rosary.

    4. I took care of a woman from our church and being her power of attorney as well as her friend, I planned her Catholic wake and funeral. At the wake I set up branches with rosaries hanging from them (she had at least 100) and friends that visited the wake could take a Rosary 📿 in remembrance. It was a beautiful tribute to her faith and generosity.

  10. Jo Ann Rademacher

    Religious items that you no longer want but are still useful can be donated to Catholic missions. They welcome these items and use them in evangelization. Also can donate them to your Archdiocese/Diocese for use in prison ministry.

    1. Can you send me an address to send old prayer books, bibles and My Catholic Faith books. Would like them to go to the missions. Thank you!

  11. 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?

    1. I have quite a few of Saints images and fair bit or rosaries, some were given to my children and some from churches that were given away. Also have some cruxifices, small statues of saints,medals and I am down sizing my living place, and now would like to ask how will I be disposing them, but only keeping a few. I am a devoted catholic and feel bad in disposing them. Please tell me what to do with them.

      1. If you have a catholic school nearby you may be able to take them there. I teach kindergarten and often present my children with holy cards, rosaries, small items for special events, etc.

  12. 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.

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

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

  15. 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?

  16. 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.

  17. Luisa Carmela Donataccio

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

    1. 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.

  18. 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?

    1. M3gn,
      You might find it helpful if you visited vaticancatholic.com 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.

    2. Hello M3gn,

      I hope you were able to find more information about the Catholic faith. What has convinced me of the truth of the Catholic faith is the Mass and the Holy Eucharist. The truth about the mass and the Eucharist for me is only found in the Catholic church. Here is a helpful book that explains the mass, its biblical basis and how the early Christian understood the mass. The Lamb’s Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth: Scott Hahn

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