Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

reliquaries

Expand Messages
  • Samia al-Kaslaania
    Can someone point me to a few good references books/articles about reliquaries? Samia
    Message 1 of 10 , Jul 21, 2008
    • 0 Attachment
      Can someone point me to a few good references books/articles about
      reliquaries?

      Samia
    • Rebecca Klingbeil
      ... I am not sure how much I could help - but for the sake of others I feel the need to ask for clarification: Reliquaries as in an item in a church or
      Message 2 of 10 , Jul 22, 2008
      • 0 Attachment
        --- Samia al-Kaslaania <samia@...> wrote:

        > Can someone point me to a few good references
        > books/articles about
        > reliquaries?
        >
        > Samia
        >

        I am not sure how much I could help - but for the sake
        of others I feel the need to ask for clarification:

        "Reliquaries" as in an item in a church or chapel (or
        a wealthy private home) similar to a box or means of
        storage/display of a relic.

        Or

        "Reliquaries" as in reliquary jewelry, being
        pendents/lockets specifically designed to hold a small
        relic and be worn by the owner.

        I'm asking because the first is likely to be found in
        different resources from the second.

        Leofwynn Marchaunt
      • Chris Laning
        ... As Leofwynn said, it somewhat depends on what kind you re talking about and what you want to do with the information. Both the fancy box kept in church
        Message 3 of 10 , Jul 22, 2008
        • 0 Attachment
          On Jul 21, 2008, at 7:31 PM, Samia al-Kaslaania wrote:

          > Can someone point me to a few good references books/articles about
          > reliquaries?


          As Leofwynn said, it somewhat depends on what kind you're talking
          about and what you want to do with the information.

          Both the "fancy box kept in church" kind of reliquary and the
          "personal jewelry with Stuff Inside" kind of reliquary are likely to
          be found in church treasuries, so the first place I'd suggest looking
          for information is in some of the big picture books published about
          the collections of individual museums and churches.

          I am a sucker for big books full of glittery stuff, so I have several
          of these, including ones about the Treasury of Basel Cathedral, the
          treasures of St. Mark's in Venice, of the basilica of St. Francis in
          Assisi, and so forth.

          You can also suspect books with titles like "The Medieval
          Treasury" (that one's from the Victoria & Albert) of having items
          you'd be interested in. These books tend to be expensive new, but are
          often available at quite a reasonable price used.

          I've also seen a few books about private relic collections, some of
          which have some quite bizarre things in them (jeweled skulls, anyone?).

          When I'm not in a hurry to get to work (as I am this morning), I
          could cheerfully say more on this subject -- it's one of my
          favorites. Hope this helps.
          ____________________________________________________________

          O (Dame) Christian de Holacombe, OL - Shire of Windy Meads
          + Kingdom of the West - Chris Laning <claning@...>
          http://paternoster-row.org - http://paternosters.blogspot.com
          ____________________________________________________________
        • Samia al-Kaslaania
          ... That was not a question I had considered, but it certainly makes sense. I am looking for traveling reliquaries, that pilgrim might carry, rather than
          Message 4 of 10 , Jul 22, 2008
          • 0 Attachment
            Chris Laning wrote:
            > As Leofwynn said, it somewhat depends on what kind you're talking
            > about and what you want to do with the information.
            >
            >
            That was not a question I had considered, but it certainly makes sense.
            I am looking for traveling reliquaries, that pilgrim might carry, rather
            than static reliquaries that a church would hold.

            Thank you for helping me clarify.

            Samia
          • Chris Laning
            ... Hm. Those tend to be less common and less easy to find from the medieval era, but of course they existed. The ones that went to churches and *stayed*
            Message 5 of 10 , Jul 24, 2008
            • 0 Attachment
              On Jul 22, 2008, at 1:56 PM, Samia al-Kaslaania wrote:

              > That was not a question I had considered, but it certainly makes
              > sense.
              > I am looking for traveling reliquaries, that pilgrim might carry,
              > rather
              > than static reliquaries that a church would hold.


              Hm. Those tend to be less common and less easy to find from the
              medieval era, but of course they existed. The ones that went to
              churches and *stayed* there, of course, are the ones most likely to
              still be around today in identifiable locations.

              Okay, after dragging a bunch of books off the bookshelf and doing
              some digging, here's what I've come up with.

              Basically, from anything I can find out, the sorts of personal
              reliquaries someone might have worn or carried on pilgrimage would be
              pretty much the same sorts that they would wear or carry just in
              daily life. Or, perhaps, in daily life if they were aristocratic or
              wealthy or wearing their best clothes, anyway.

              Relics seem often to have been wrapped in some sort of cloth for
              protection, in many cases in especially precious or splendid bits of
              cloth (silk brocade or the like) but sometimes just plain linen. They
              were also frequently given little parchment labels for
              identification. The wrapped relic might then have been put into some
              kind of more durable outside case.

              There are examples in church treasuries of relics simply wrapped in
              cloth and put into a small bag (a "reliquary purse") but I don't know
              whether they would have been carried around just in the little purse,
              or whether further protection was required. Personally, if I was
              carrying something like a bit of saint's bone around, I wouldn't let
              it rattle around loose in my pocket without some more substantial
              protection than just a cloth bag.

              Metal cases fall into a number of fairly common types. These include:

              (1) An ampulla or tiny flask, usually out of some common metal like
              pewter, sometimes crystal or precious metal. This might contain drops
              of water from the river Jordan (I have one of those), or it might be
              sacred oil from some shrine or water from a particular well. Modern
              reproductions are available of these, and the neck is lined with pine
              pitch so they can be gently heated and crimped to provide a
              watertight seal.
              Here's a photo of mine: <http://www.flickr.com/photos/claning/
              14542130>
              And the source I bought the ampulla from (these are great
              folks): <http://billyandcharlie.com/ampul.html>

              (2) A cross or religious medal made in two sections that fasten
              together with a space in between. The space could contain relics, or
              some other religious artifact such as an Agnus Dei (disk of specially
              blessed wax).
              Here's a reproduction I have of a medieval cross that might
              have contained relics: <http://www.flickr.com/photos/claning/354232476>

              (3) A pendant in some form that has a natural hollow space in it --
              the example I'm thinking of is a 16th-c. gold jewel from the British
              Museum that shows a lamb resting on a book. The "book" part of the
              pendant is hollow and may have contained relics or wax as mentioned
              above. I can't find an image of this online at the moment.
              There is also the so-called Talisman of Charlemagne: <http://
              vrcoll.fa.pitt.edu/stones-HAA0050/unit-32-Sculpture-Carolingian/Web-
              Pages/Unit32-Full.00058.html> which has a tiny relic that was
              originally sandwiched between two pieces of sapphire (one is now
              glass) and surrounded by an elaborate jeweled frame.

              (4) A purpose-made case that isn't anything else, just a small box in
              which the relic can be kept safe. There's one in the Metropolitan
              Museum of Art, but I can't turn up an image of it online at the
              moment. It's a small silver box from about 1400, about two inches
              long with a closely fitting lid, inside a boiled-leather case. I have
              a photo somewhere of another little rectangular box on a long chain,
              to be worn as a necklace.

              Some larger reliquaries also have arrangements for wearing, though
              they are less likely to have been worn every day. A couple of the
              little metal 'house-shaped" reliquaries (which are often just a few
              inches long) have rings or other attachments and could have been worn
              hanging from a string or strap around the neck. One such reliquary is
              pictured here, called "Ranvaig's casket": <http://www.amnh.org/
              exhibitions/vikings/going.html>

              19th and 20th century personal reliquaries are easy to find, as they
              were made in vast quantities. Most of them have very tiny relics
              (bread-crumb sized) inside a silver or brass case with a glass top,
              and they are frequently decorated with little stamped-metal
              ornaments, bits of silk or embroidery and the like. The tradition of
              decorating religious objects in this way does go back before 1600,
              but the styles are likely to be somewhat different.

              Where to find this information -- the best sources, as I said, are
              usually books about church treasuries or aristocratic collections.
              Unless the collector specialized in such things, there are likely to
              be only one or two reliquaries of interest in any given book, so it
              does take some searching. Another place to look is books on medieval
              and Renaissance jewelry. As far as I'm aware, there aren't any recent
              books that collect a lot of examples just of reliquaries all in one
              place. (There's a big fat German book from the early 20th century,
              but it is pretty obscure and tends to concentrate on the bigger
              pieces that sat around in churches.)

              As for the types of relics that one might *acquire* on pilgrimage, as
              a souvenir or to prove that you had actually been there, that's a
              different question and a bit harder to research, but there are
              certainly records of such things. They tend to turn up more in a
              different set of books, however -- those specifically about
              pilgrimage and pilgrimage sites.

              One type of relic that is very common in modern times, but that I
              haven't seen a lot of examples of in our period, is a piece of cloth
              that has been *touched* to a relic. One of the relics I have, for
              instance, is a tiny piece of cloth that was touched to a relic of the
              True Cross. Of course, if such a thing did survive from the medieval
              centuries, we wouldn't know what it was unless it was specially
              labeled -- but at least I can say that I haven't seen examples of
              medieval _cases_ for such a "secondary" relic.

              Hopefully this is of some help. More information is available if
              there are specific questions.

              I'm actually grateful that someone jogged my elbow and prompted me to
              research this, as I've been saying I'd like to develop a class on the
              subject, and this is some of the research I need to do that will
              actually make it happen ;)

              ____________________________________________________________

              O (Dame) Christian de Holacombe, OL - Shire of Windy Meads
              + Kingdom of the West - Chris Laning <claning@...>
              http://paternoster-row.org - http://paternosters.blogspot.com
              ____________________________________________________________
            • Samia al-Kaslaania
              http://www.cottesimple.com/alms_purse/alms_purse_history.html While doing other research I found this site. There is a montage photo on this site with a
              Message 6 of 10 , Aug 4, 2008
              • 0 Attachment
                http://www.cottesimple.com/alms_purse/alms_purse_history.html

                While doing other research I found this site. There is a montage photo
                on this site with a collection of reliquaries.

                Samia
              • Marianne Perdomo / Leonor (SCA)
                ... Great post!! I enjoyed this thread and this post in particular! :) ... That reminds me of a small mirror some web merchant sells. You re suppose to use it
                Message 7 of 10 , Aug 8, 2008
                • 0 Attachment
                  --- In Authentic_SCA@yahoogroups.com, Chris Laning

                  Great post!! I enjoyed this thread and this post in particular! :)

                  > One type of relic that is very common in modern times, but that I
                  > haven't seen a lot of examples of in our period, is a piece of cloth
                  > that has been *touched* to a relic. One of the relics I have, for
                  > instance, is a tiny piece of cloth that was touched to a relic of the
                  > True Cross. Of course, if such a thing did survive from the medieval
                  > centuries, we wouldn't know what it was unless it was specially
                  > labeled -- but at least I can say that I haven't seen examples of
                  > medieval _cases_ for such a "secondary" relic.

                  That reminds me of a small mirror some web merchant sells. You're
                  suppose to use it to "capture" the reflection of a shrine. But I've
                  never come across any proper references about this.

                  Cheers!


                  Leonor
                • wodeford
                  I realize this is not what you re looking for, but I figured I d mention it as someone might find it of interest. The Japanese have a tradition of wearing or
                  Message 8 of 10 , Aug 8, 2008
                  • 0 Attachment
                    I realize this is not what you're looking for, but I figured I'd
                    mention it as someone might find it of interest. The Japanese have a
                    tradition of wearing or carrying amulets of various sorts that dates
                    from our period and continues today, although the modern version may
                    take the form of a cell phone charm. (Do a search on o-mamori if you
                    don't believe me.)

                    http://www.wodefordhall.com/kake.htm has some information on
                    adaptation of a pilgrim's amulet case for modern SCA use. Not long
                    after I made it, I happened to see the movie "Sansho the Bailiff". The
                    father, going into exile, presents his son with a similar case
                    containing a small statue of Kannon (known in China as Kwan Yin), the
                    Buddhist deity of mercy, with a pivotal speech about the importance of
                    mercy, which figures largely in the film.

                    Two sen worth,
                    Saionji no Hanae, sometimes known as Jehanne de Wodeford
                    West Kingdom
                  • Rebecca Klingbeil
                    ... WARNING: Getting technical :) Just FYI for anyone who might care and for deletion by those who don t. :) In the modern period, in Catholic devotional
                    Message 9 of 10 , Aug 8, 2008
                    • 0 Attachment
                      --- "Marianne Perdomo / Leonor (SCA)"
                      <marianne@...> wrote:

                      > --- In Authentic_SCA@yahoogroups.com, Chris Laning
                      >
                      > Great post!! I enjoyed this thread and this post in
                      > particular! :)
                      >
                      > > One type of relic that is very common in modern
                      > times, but that I
                      > > haven't seen a lot of examples of in our period,
                      > is a piece of cloth
                      > > that has been *touched* to a relic. One of the
                      > relics I have, for
                      > > instance, is a tiny piece of cloth that was
                      > touched to a relic of the
                      > > True Cross. Of course, if such a thing did survive
                      > from the medieval
                      > > centuries, we wouldn't know what it was unless it
                      > was specially
                      > > labeled -- but at least I can say that I haven't
                      > seen examples of
                      > > medieval _cases_ for such a "secondary" relic.
                      >

                      WARNING: Getting technical :) Just FYI for anyone who
                      might care and for deletion by those who don't. :)

                      In the modern period, in Catholic devotional practice,
                      there are three levels of 'relics'. A first-level or
                      'primary' relic is the body part of saint [St.
                      Januarius' blood, St. Such-and-such's bone, etc.] or a
                      relic of the Passion [splinter of the 'True Cross',
                      the Shroud of Turin, etc]. A first-class relic is
                      required to consecrate an altar - all Catholic altars
                      have a small piece of a saint in them - not
                      necessarily the saint the church building is dedicated
                      to, though.

                      A second-class or secondary relic is an item a saint
                      used regularly or wore regularly [the Virgin's veil,
                      Padre Pio's gloves that he wore to cover up his
                      stigmata, Mother Teresa's rosary].

                      A third-class or tertiary relic is anything that has
                      been touched to either a first-class or second-class
                      relic. There are very common modernly - they are often
                      contained inside rosaries or other devotional items.

                      There are strict rules about selling relics - and I
                      know that first and second class relics are forbidden
                      to be sold without a special dispensation. Third-class
                      is different but I'm not sure of the specifics.

                      END TECHNICAL DISCUSSION. :)

                      Leofwynn Marchaunt
                    • Chris Laning
                      ... All quite correct. As I understand it, under current canon (church) law, no relic may be sold. You can, however, sell a case or something that just
                      Message 10 of 10 , Aug 9, 2008
                      • 0 Attachment
                        On Aug 8, 2008, at 4:07 PM, Rebecca Klingbeil wrote:

                        > A third-class or tertiary relic is anything that has
                        > been touched to either a first-class or second-class
                        > relic. There are very common modernly - they are often
                        > contained inside rosaries or other devotional items.
                        >
                        > There are strict rules about selling relics - and I
                        > know that first and second class relics are forbidden
                        > to be sold without a special dispensation. Third-class
                        > is different but I'm not sure of the specifics.
                        >
                        > END TECHNICAL DISCUSSION. :)


                        All quite correct.

                        As I understand it, under current canon (church) law, no relic may be
                        sold.

                        You can, however, sell a case or something that "just happens" to
                        have a relic in it -- but you are not allowed to charge extra. You
                        will see this all the time on eBay -- search on "relic" sometime. At
                        least half of the sellers will say explicitly in their description
                        that the price is for the case, "the relic is a gift."

                        I had never heard that the situation was any different for third-
                        class relics. But as I've said before, I don't recall hearing very
                        much about third-class relics in the Middle Ages. Chaucer's fake
                        Pardoner, for instance, is selling bits of bone IIRC (he claims they
                        are saint's bones but they are really pig bones) which would be first-
                        class relics.

                        Then again, maybe the reason you don't hear much about third-class
                        relics is that they weren't especially valuable or rare ;)

                        I should also add that there are many Catholics today -- usually the
                        more conservative types -- who believe that not only should you not
                        sell a relic, you shouldn't sell the container it's in, either.
                        Apparently canon law specifically forbade that until the early 1900s.
                        Current canon law doesn't say anything one way or the other.

                        I actually have a couple of reliquaries, which live with my "teaching
                        collection" -- they are 19th or 20th century, but even many
                        practicing modern Catholics have never seen an actual saint's relic,
                        since they are more or less "out of fashion" these days. I wrote
                        about them here:
                        http://paternosters.blogspot.com/2005/06/retirement-home-ii-relics.html

                        ____________________________________________________________

                        O (Dame) Christian de Holacombe, OL - Shire of Windy Meads
                        + Kingdom of the West - Chris Laning <claning@...>
                        http://paternoster-row.org - http://paternosters.blogspot.com
                        ____________________________________________________________
                      Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.