This was particularly under the impetus provided by Bishop Ambrose of Milan.
Relics are objects of religious veneration and were an important feature in the religious landscape of the so-called Dark Ages and also the Middle Ages.
The power of the spiritual world was thought to be more available in them than anywhere else.
Every church, every altar, every noble family, every king, and every religious community had relics, and sometimes possessed very many of them.
The justification of the Catholic practice of the veneration of relics, which is indirectly suggested here by the reference to the bodies of the saints as formerly temples of the Holy Spirit and as destined hereafter to be glorified forever, was formally developed in the authoritative Roman Catechism drawn up by the Council of Trent immediately after the Protestant Reformation.
As grounds for its statements, the Roman Catechism refers to "the blind and lame are restored to health, the dead recalled to life."
It pointed out that these are facts which "Saint Ambrose and Saint Augustine, most genuine witnesses, declare in their writings that they have not merely heard and read about, as many did but have seen with their own eyes ', (Ambrose, Letter 22:2, 17; Augustine, Sermon 286; City of God
22, S, and Confessions
There subsequently arose significant opposition from some learned clerics.
For example, Augustine himself was not fully convinced about relic cults until the final years of his life, at which time he took up the cause of the cults of Saint Stephen and other martyrs
with some enthusiasm.
In the year 415, by which time Augustine had been a bishop for twenty five-years, the bones of the martyr Stephen, the protomartyr mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles in the Bible, were discovered.
Some of the colleagues os Augustine travelled to Jerusalem and returned to North Africa with them.
Little shrines and churches called "memoriae" containing sacred dust sprang up in country estates around Hippo.