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Contributing Editor(s)

Edited by Naomi Nakahodo, Andrew Nelson, Ashley Ward, and Kaylee Woldum


This monograph is the class project for a course entitled “Mortuary Archaeology”. The goal of the course is to engage students with the cross-cultural and deep temporal examination of how different societies deal with death.

The project arose from conversations between the course instructor, Andrew Nelson, and the archivist for the Roman Catholic Diocese of London, Debra Majer, in August of 2021. After an initial meeting with Debra on February 9th, the students began the process of building project proposals surrounding the theme of sacred relics. After approval by Nelson and Majer, the five students from Western University started their individual projects from February to April of 2022. During this time, the students communicated with both Nelson and Majer regarding their projects, two of which included the direct analysis of some of the Diocese’s relics. In this sense, this volume is a mix of both theoretical work and experimental approaches in the study of sacred relics from the Roman Catholic Church.

Publication Date



Western University, Department of Anthropology




relics, Roman Catholic Diocese London Ontario, Diocese of London, mortuary archaeology, mortuary rituals


Anthropology | Archaeological Anthropology



The students would like to thank Andrew Nelson for facilitating this opportunity and teaching us new techniques. Thanks also to Andrew Walsh for providing a valuable collection of resources on relics. We would all like to thank the Museum of Ontario Archaeology Ancient Images Lab for providing access to their equipment. Most of all, the greatest of thanks to Debra Majer, Archivist, Fr. John Comiskey, and the Diocese of London for their time, help and enthusiasm during this project. The access you have trusted us with and the knowledge you have shared has been invaluable.

Living Connections with the Dead: An  Anthropological Exploration of Relics  Cared for by the Roman Catholic  Diocese, London, Ontario.