Gathering the Saints

Christians who travel to a major pilgrimage center often return home with a small memento like a medallion, or a badge. This tradition finds its basis in the belief that an object that comes from a holy place retains the sanctity of its origins.

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Arm Reliquary of the Apostles, detailArm Reliquary of the Apostles This reliquary belongs to a class of objects often referred to as body-part, shaped, or "speaking" reliquaries. Imitating the form of a clothed lower arm with an outstretched right hand, it gives visual expression to the very body part it contains.

Reliquary of the True Cross, detailReliquary of the True Cross This is one of the earliest examples of a precious container for relics of the True Cross to have survived.

, detailPortable Altar of Countess Gertrude This portable altar belongs to a group of precious liturgical objects commissioned by Countess Gertrude of Braunschweig shortly after the death of her husband, the powerful Count Liudolf in 1038.

Ostensorium with Paten of St. Bernward, detailOstensorium with "Paten of St. Bernward" This unusual ostensorium was made to facilitate the display and veneration of ten relics, most prominent among them an elaborate liturgical paten, a shallow plate for the elevation of the Eucharist during Mass.

Double-Arm Reliquary Cross, detailDouble-Arm Reliquary Cross This elegant double-arm gold cross shares a number of decorative features with a group of silver crosses that can be attributed to a leading goldsmith workshop in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem during the twelfth century.

Reliquary Cross, detailReliquary Cross This cross is one of the earliest surviving French examples of a double-arm reliquary cross.

Panel-shaped Reliquary of the True Cross, detailPanel-shaped Reliquary of the True Cross A lengthy Latin inscription, executed in niello, frames the reliquary's central panel in two layers on all four sides. It records the colorful history of the relic of the True Cross.

Reliquary Box with Scenes from the Life of John the Baptist, detailReliquary Box with Scenes from the Life of John the Baptist The painted wood box likely served as a container for one of the saint's relics. Several such relics were kept and venerated in churches and monasteries at Constantinople into the late Byzantine period.

The Holy Thorn Reliquary, detailThe Holy Thorn Reliquary This reliquary, with its magnificent vision of the Last Judgment, was made to contain a thorn that the Latin inscription asserts, came originally from the Crown of Thorns placed on Christ's head before the Crucifixion.