Relics & Reliquaries

Reliquary Chasse with the Virgin and Child

The British Museum, London
Copyright © The Trustees of the British Museum

Reliquary Chasse with the Virgin and Child

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We do not know what this casket once held, but the large image of the Virgin and Child that dominates the front of the chasse may hint at the type of relics it contained. The front of this box also shows two saints flanking the Virgin and Child, possibly St. Philip and St. Andrew. The back, roof, and left side of the casket show various saints and Apostles, including St. Peter, standing under arcades. The heads on the front were separately manufactured and then attached to the chasse. Limoges chasses often incorporate appliqué relief figures such as these, probably cast, with details such as hair and beards subsequently chased or inscribed. Limoges was a minting town, and as such it would have had the capacity to manufacture molds and dies. The side of the roof, which is glass, the ornamental panel on the right side, which holds a cabochon crystal, and the brass nails are modern additions. The addition of the glass panel enabled this reliquary to display the relics within.

Naomi C. Speakman