Description This reliquary would originally have contained what was thought to be a body part or other physical remains of a saint. The richness of the container honors the sanctity of the relic (now lost). It would have been placed under glass in the morse (clasp) of a cope. While the bust dates from the 17th century, the head is an 18th-century replacement. Protestants considered Catholics' deep devotion to the saints and their relics as bordering on idolatry. To counter this, the Church vigorously reasserted that while worship was due only to Christ and to God, the veneration, or honoring, of saints and also of their relics (as physical manifestations of their lives and merits) was important in gaining the aid of the saints in seeking God's mercy.
Provenance F. Ongania, Venice [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Henry Walters, Baltimore, by purchase; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters
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