Reliquaries, 18th century

Published: 25.11.2022

Reliquary (medieval Latin reliquarium from reliquiae = remains) in Christianity, a chest for storing and displaying (worshiping) the remains of St. cross, remains of martyrs, saints, their clothing, etc. The existence of reliquaries has been attested in Christianity since the 4th century. Reliquaries are often artistically designed, gilded and richly decorated and have great artistic value.

Larger reliquaries that were kept in churches and monasteries were usually made in the form of a sarcophagus, the part of the body that holds it (like chest, arm, finger), or in the form of a simple box made of metal, leather or strong canvas.

Reliquaries, however, can be very small. These are artistically made boxes for storing small pieces of relics embedded in precious metals such as brass or silver, into gold and silver threads, silk, paper, etc. They could have the shape of an oval, a cross. They were intended for the public or private worship of believers who turned to them with a request.