Piece of the Month V

Dada a extensão deste artigo, achei por bem publicar as versões inglesa e portuguesa em separado. Para a versão portuguesa, cliquem aqui.

PIECE OF THE MONTH V – RELIQUARIES ON A CHAIN

Collection: National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon – Portugal (inv. 274 Joa)

Dates: 15th century, second half

Provenance: Unknown

Local of Production: Unknown

Dimensions: 2,6cm in height x 1,7 cm in width x 1cm in depth (per reliquary)

Weight: Unknown

Materials: Silver

Description: This set of three small reliquaries on a silver chain is a testimony of medieval devotion, of the personal, often palpable way the faithful established a connection with the divine [1] – a connection often forgotten by contemporary Medieval History students, and reenactors. Each of these little boxes has a large medieval window on the front, and, on the back, an acronym identifying the saint to which the relic belongs – Saint Sebastian, Saint Benedict, or Saint  Blaise.

Relicários
A corrente e os relicários.

The private and intimate dimension of the cult of relics was extremely important in the 15th century. Relics were associated with specific places of pilgrimage , around which trade networks would be established for the procurement and sale of these sacred objects – some more real, others less so.

According to curator Joaquim Oliveira Caetano, in Portugal, “a dinastia de Avis foi pioneira neste tipo de uso. D. Filipa possuía várias relíquias que repartiu pelos filhos. D. Henrique nunca tirava uma corrente que trazia ao pescoço com um relicário do Santo Lenho e, entre os bens dos pais de D. Manuel I, os infantes Fernando e Brites, conta-se, para além deste relicário, um outro, também nas coleções do Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, com despojos dos Mártires de Marrocos” [2]. And lest we think that owning relics was only for the high and powerful: a fair few coins in their wallets would afford any pilgrim their own small fragment of their saint of choice [3]. As far as medieval belief was concerned, it hardly mattered whether they were legitimate or not [4]: these small pieces of the divine, and the receptacles in which they are kept, are a tangible affirmation of belief in medieval communities – objects of art, objects of devotion, objects of protection.

 

[1] Gomes, S. (2009). “Sagrados Monumentos, Relíquias de mártires e de santos em Portugal”. In Revista Lusófona de Ciência das Religiões. 15. Lisboa: Licenciatura e Centro de Estudos em Ciências das Religiões da Universidade Lusófona de Humanidades e Tecnologias, pp. 59-60.

[2] ‘The Avis dynasty pioneered this usage of relics. Phillipa [of Lancaster] had several relics that she shared with her children. Prince Henry never removed a chain that he wore around his neck with a reliquary of the True Cross; among the belongings of King D. Manuel I’s parents, the infantes Fernando and Brites, there is, in addition to this reliquary, another one with the remains of the Martyrs of Morocco, it too in the collections of the National Museum of Ancient Art’ [my translation and notes], in Caetano, J. (2013). “A Microarquitectura”. In Pimentel, A. (Coord.) A Arquitetura Imaginária – Pintura, Escultura, Artes Decorativas. Lisboa: Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga/Imprensa Nacional Casa da Moeda, p. 90. Prince Henry’s reliquary can, in fact, be seen in his portrait in the Saint Vincent Panels.

[3] Oliveira Marques, A. (2010). A Sociedade Medieval Portuguesa – Aspectos do Quotidiano. Lisboa: Esfera dos Livros, p. 194.

[4] Gomes, S. (2009), op. cit., p. 62.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Caetano, J. (2013). “A Microarquitectura”. Em Pimentel, A. (Coord.) A Arquitetura Imaginária – Pintura, Escultura, Artes Decorativas. Lisboa: Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga/Imprensa Nacional Casa da Moeda, pp. 63-93

Gomes, S. (2009). “Sagrados Monumentos, Relíquias de mártires e de santos em Portugal”. Em Revista Lusófona de Ciência das Religiões. 15. Lisboa: Licenciatura e Centro de Estudos em Ciências das Religiões da Universidade Lusófona de Humanidades e Tecnologias, pp. 59-84

Oliveira Marques, A. (2010). A Sociedade Medieval Portuguesa – Aspectos do Quotidiano. Lisboa: Esfera dos Livros

 

 

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One thought on “Piece of the Month V

  1. Pingback: Peça do Mês V

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