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Two Halves of Byzantine Reliquary Crosses - X.0055
Origin: Eastern Mediterranean
Circa: 8 th Century AD to 12 th Century AD
Dimensions: 3.5" (8.9cm) high
Collection: Byzantine
Style: Byzantine
Medium: Bronze/Silver

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A reliquary is a receptacle for keeping or displaying sacred relics. For Christians, relics were objects connected with saints or the actual physical remains of saints. The veneration of the sacred relics of martyrs is a practice known to date from at least as early as the 2nd century. The Crusades led to an influx of relics from the Middle East and reliquaries became popular items of adornment used for protection by crusaders and the wealthy elite who could afford such luxuries. Although the practice of veneration was defended both by the 13th century theologian St. Thomas Aquinas and by the Council of Trent in the 16th century, the veneration of icons has always had a greater importance in the Eastern Orthodoxy.

This cross has been reassembled from two halves of separate Byzantine reliquary crosses, one half bronze, the other silver. The bronze side is inscribed to the Mother of God (THEO TOKOS) and depicts Mary standing with baby Jesus in her arms. At the ends of the horizontal arms are the busts of saints. The forms of figures have been abstracted. This suggestive style heightens the spirituality of the work, for it is the idea of the holiness of the figures that is the focus, not their physicality.The silver side has an incised design. On both sides the points of the arms are ornamented with disks. The sacred, protective energies of this reliquary cross continue to radiate outwards, still as potent and powerful as the day it was first forged. - (X.0055)

 

 

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