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1840 Vatican-documented reliquary theca with relics of Saint Nicholas of Bari

Oval glass-fronted silvered brass reliquary theca housing the first-class Ex Ossibus (of the bone) relic of Saint Nicholas of Bari. The relic is affixed to a silk ground surrounded by silver wire ornamentation and identified in Latin on a manuscript cedula label as S. Nicholai Ep. / de Bario (Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Bari).  On the back, the theca is secured with a seal of red Spanish wax bearing an imprint of a coat of arms of Monsignor Giuseppe Della Porta Rodiani (†1841), Auxiliary Bishop of Rome (1838-1841) and the Vicar General of the Vatican. The reliquary is accompanied by the original matching authentics document issued by Cardinal Porta Rodiani in 1840 under the authority of Pope Gregory XVI (p. 1831–1846).

Saint Nicholas († ca. 345) was buried in a church in Myra (modern-day Turkey) and his tomb by the Middle Ages already became a popular place of Christian pilgrimage. In May of 1087, under the pretext of preserving them from the Muslim Turks who occupied Myra, relics of the Saint were stolen by Italian merchants from the place of his burial and transported to Italy where they are still kept in a crypt of a specially built Basilica of St. Nicholas in Bari. According to legend, when Italian merchants opened the sarcophagus, a spicy smell of myrrh spread from the relics of Saint. Merchants from Bari managed to take only some of the relics of the Saint, leaving many smaller fragments in the grave. These fragments were collected by Venetian sailors during the First Crusade (1096-1099) and taken to Venice, where they were kept in the church of St. Nicholas. Modern scientific research in Bari and Venice proved that fragments in two cities belonged to the same skeleton. A small part of the relics is still kept in Turkey in Church of St. Nicholas.

Additional Info

  • ID#: 288-RSCR-1
  • Size: 35 x 30 mm
  • Age: ca. 1840
  • Origin: Vatican
  • Materials: brass, glass, silk, silver, paper, Spanish wax
  • Price: Price upon request
  • Silver
  • Orthodox Cross
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