Parcel Gilt Silver Sheeting
The Victoria & Albert Museum
|Orpha Polk could use this.|
In the Middle Ages, such relics were thought to have miraculous powers and were greatly venerated. The faithful truly believed that by praying near, and, especially, by touching a reliquary that contained something special, they would receive protection against sickness and ill fortune. Sadly, most reliquaries have been stripped of their relics, but the containers themselves, regardless of their religious value, have a great deal of artistic and historical appeal.
This particular reliquary comes from Belgium and dates to the mid-to-late Thirteenth Century. It is in the shape of a hand and may have been part of a larger collection of reliquaries which also included an arm. The relics (now lost) would have been visible through the windows in the fingers. You’ll notice that the ring is worn almost at the fingertip. This was a common practice throughout the Middle ages which lasted well into the 16th century.