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Spectacular silver reliquary theca with a relic of the True Cross of Jesus Christ

Spectacular large silver crystal-fronted reliquary decorated with opulent floral ornamentation housing significant relics of the wood from the True Cross. The sizable relics are arranged in a crucifix shape, affixed to the background of gold silk decorated with paperole and silver wire ornamentation and identified on a paper cedula label as Lingo + D.N.J.C.  ([of] the wood of the True Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ). On the back, the theca is secured with a perfectly preserved seal of red Spanish wax bearing an imprint with a coat of arms of an unidentified Catholic Bishop. The reliquary comes housed in a period fitted silk-covered case.

The True Cross is the name for physical remnants which, by the Church tradition, are believed to be from the cross upon which Jesus was crucified.  Empress Helena, the mother of Constantine, the first Christian Emperor of Rome, traveled to the Holy Land in 326–28, where she discovered the hiding place of three crosses that were believed to be used at the crucifixion of Jesus and of two thieves, St. Dismas and Gestas, executed with him, and a miracle revealed which of the three was the True Cross. Fragments of the Cross were broken up, and the pieces were widely distributed; in 348, in one of his Catecheses, Cyril of Jerusalem remarked that the "whole earth is full of the relics of the Cross of Christ." Most of the very small relics of the True Cross in Europe came from Constantinople after the city was captured and sacked in 1204 during the Fourth Crusade. They were carved up by the present bishops and divided with other very precious relics among the knights, who, after their return to the homeland, donated them to churches and monasteries.


Additional Info

  • ID#: 279-RSCR-85
  • Size: 16 x 11 cm (6 1/4 x 4 nches)
  • Age: ca. 1820s
  • Origin: Italy
  • Materials: silver, crystal, paper, silk, Spanish wax
  • Price: Price upon request
  • Silver
  • Orthodox Cross


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