"Reliquaries" are containers for precious relics, usually of a religious nature - these relics being considered 

 "more valuable than precious stones and more to be esteemed than gold".


Although relics and reliquaries are part of varied cultures on every continent,

the particular Christian reliquary veneration relates to

 the belief in after-life, and the power of the physical remains of a holy site or holy person,

or objects with which they had contact. 

This devotion to relics is as old as the Christianity itself.


The earliest reliquaries were simple boxes, eventually assuming a casket or architectural form. 

From the 9th century forward, reliquaries of precious metals, ivory, and gems were fashioned

as a fully clothed body, a bust - or even a single body part. 

The Metropolitan Museum collection contains a c1270 rather extraordinary silver and oak arm pointing toward heaven.

 Most were made for churches - Charlemagne required every altar to have a reliquary. 

Occasionally reliquaries were created for privileged individuals.


By the Middle Ages, these sacred relics and their vessels represented a communicative

link between life and death and man and God.

They began to rival the sacraments themselves, being considered to bestow honor and privileges upon the possessor.

 Monasteries and cathedrals actually sought to hold the most prestigious examples. 

Some relics were even stolen from one church, only to find a new home in another.


As well, during times of religious and political strife, these early reliquaries were subject to widespread destruction.

  Opposing their use, Martin Luther and the Calvinist supporters melted many for the metal and gems. 

"Those that survive bear precious witness to the exceptional artistic creativity inspired by contemporary faith."


The Christian reliquary tradition remained extremely important until the late 17th century,

continuing until this day in some countries and religions. 


 Ref : Boehm, Barbara Drake. "Relics and Reliquaries in Medieval Christianity". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History.

New York : The Metropolitan Museum of Art



We are pleased - particularly at the Easter season - to present this religious symbol from history :

a small casket or sarcophagus shaped reliquary from the last half of the 17th century.

It was doubtless the precious possession of an individual, and it contents provided both hope and renewal for the owner.



 Late 17th Century Silver Reliquary Box

The sarcophagus-shaped box with hinged cover having a rotating latch closure to the side

 and applied dependent ring to the top,

the cover engraved & chased with a central blooming lily* and buds on a stem,

within a rocaille border, a shell at the base; the verso centering a book (probably a Bible) between to lilies*

 within a rocaille border as the above; the sides with cast rope decoration



*The lily (stylized as a fleur de lis) has long been a Christian symbol for both the Trinity (3 petals).

and for the Virgin Mary


 Please click here, the title or images for further information.


Please email or call if you have any questions.


Millicent Ford Creech



901-761-1163 (gallery) / 901-827-4668 (cell)



Hours : Wed.-Sat. 11-6, or by appointment

Complimentary Gift Wrapping


mfcreech@bellsouth.net  or  mfordcreech@gmail.com



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For Easter : A Late 17th Century Silver Reliquary