Finer than Gold

Saints and Relics in the Middle Ages


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ISBN: 9780714128221 Category:

James Robinson


‘And so we afterwards took up his bones which are more valuable than precious stones and finer than refined gold …’ Account of the martyrdom of Polycarp, c. AD 156 From the earliest period of Christian worship striking comparisons were drawn between sacred matter and precious materials. The association was given its most literal manifestation in the painstaking creation of sumptuous reliquaries of gold and silver, encrusted with precious stones, made to contain relics of Christ and the saints – their body parts and items owned or touched by them Focusing on the British Museum’s outstanding collection of reliquaries, Finer than Gold offers a concise introduction to the practice of relic veneration in the Middle Ages. It includes treasures such as the celebrated St Eustace reliquary head from Basle, the stirring St Oda reliquary studded with the relics of female saints and the uniquely luxurious Holy Thorn reliquary commissioned by the princely Jean duc de Berry in fourteenth-century Paris. Pilgrimage, patronage, private devotion and crusade are just some of the compelling themes explored in this richly illustrated book.

Additional information

Weight 335 g
Dimensions 19 x 19 cm
Publisher name The British Museum Press
Publication date 1 May 2011
Number of pages 112
Format Paperback / softback
Dimensions 19 x 19 cm
Weight 335 g


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