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A reliquary is used to hold and display relics. A relic is usually a fragment of a saint’s body (such as a bone or a piece of bone) or an object that belonged to the saint. It can also be an object that touched their body or that of Jesus (such as a garment). Relics are sacred and venerated objects because they are considered to retain the miraculous powers of the saints to whom they belonged. Some people worship relics and believe that they can bring them benefits, but this practice is not universal.

This reliquary is a piece of silverware decorated with stones, fleur-de-lis motifs (symbol of purity), and topped with a cross. The way the flowers surround the relics is reminiscent of the halo that surrounds the heads of holy people in works of art.

Reliquaries are found in sacred places such as churches, chapels, or religious institutions, but relics can also be kept in the home of a devotee or simply carried around.


Date: 1869–1950

Origin: North America

Owner: Fabrique de la paroisse Saint-Donat. Saint-Donat.

Dahan, M. (2017). Saint Zotique de Montréal: itinéraire d’une dévotion ultramontaine (1845–2005) [St. Zotique of Montreal: itinerary of an ultramontanist devotion]. Études d’histoire religieuse, 83(1–2), 43–60. https://doi.org/10.7202/1040857ar

Illustration: Reliquary