Reliquaries and shrines traditionally contain either one, or many relics; and relics are simply objects of religious significance. At least, primarily. The term relic is often used to describe something extremely old… such as a senior citizen with obnoxious quality of character. The difference is, calling an item that is not sentient a relic, will probably not get you a good slap. Relics exist in several different kinds of religious settings, such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, and Shamanism, more controversially, and discussed elsewhere in our fine collection of informative articles. Relics are usually very, very old, –one may not necessarily called the bones and clothing of Joseph Smith relics, at least not until they’re dug up, partially destroyed, sold, stolen, and recirculated for a few more centuries.
Relics themselves are not often just tiny little pieces of dirty bone; they are often contained inside their own small boxes, and jeweled compartments. After finding them, then they are placed in reliquaries, and then they become shrines, –later still, they are accompanied by a form of altar, even in Judeo-Christian tradition, although the offerings placed on any of these altars depend on the religion, usually they are offerings to the relics of whomever is in the box, and not to God, or the primary deity who is centered in that specific religion. It is for this reason, that many modern Roman Catholics see reliquary worship as idolatrous, and for the same reason, that so many reliquaries were burned, and replaced with a malignant stigma of evil.
There are three classes of relics in the Christian religion, the first, is a literal -part- of the saint of religious figure, –hair, limb, bones, or items that were directly involved in the life of Christ, such as bits of the cross, the spear, the manger, et cetera. The second class, are relics of clothing, or an accessory that the saint often touched or used, such as their Bible, crucifix, books, etc. And the third class of relics are items that the saint has touched, –not necessarily owned, or items that have in someway touched a first class relic.