Reliquary with Relics of Seven Saints
MediumPigment on vellum, silver, gold, saint's parts
DimensionsWork : 3 7/8 x 3 7/8 x 3/4 in. (9.84 x 9.84 x 1.91 cm)
Credit LineHope College Collection
LabelAccording to Roman Catholic belief, a relic is a physical remnant of a saint’s body, garment or other possession that is preserved to inspire veneration of the saint’s exemplary qualities and that may function as a conduit for the saint’s spiritual power. Objects or fragments of objects that have touched a saint’s body or possessions may also become relics. Major relics are usually kept in churches or other religious institutions, but since at least the Middle Ages some private individuals have also collected minor relics to use in their own private devotions. This silver case contains fragmentary relics associated with seven saints: The Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Cassian of Imola (d. 363), St. James Intercisus (d. 421), St. Peter Chrysologus (d. 450), St. Anthony of Padua (d. 1231), St. Aloysius Gonzaga (d. 1591), and St. Paschal Baylon (d. 1592). The relics, which have not been authenticated, were probably collected in Italy during the 18th century on visits to shrines associated with the seven saints. They were placed together in this reliquary case, called a theca, in 1799.