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Re: [Authentic_SCA] reliquaries

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  • 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 1 of 10 , Jul 22, 2008
      --- 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 2 of 10 , Jul 22, 2008
        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 3 of 10 , Jul 22, 2008
          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 4 of 10 , Jul 24, 2008
            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 5 of 10 , Aug 4, 2008
              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 6 of 10 , Aug 8, 2008
                --- 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 7 of 10 , Aug 8, 2008
                  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 8 of 10 , Aug 8, 2008
                    --- "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 9 of 10 , Aug 9, 2008
                      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
                      ____________________________________________________________
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