Reliquary is he site or container where are stored or protected relics (objects that are venerated). The concept is often used in the field of religion.
The Christianity denominates relics to the remains of those people that have been sanctified. By extension, things that belonged to the saints or that had some kind of contact with them are known as relics.
In the early days of Christianity, the persecutions made the objects linked to the people who died defending their faith to acquire a great value. The nails that were used to crucify the martyrs and the sheets with which they covered their bodies, among many other objects, were transformed into relics.
For the custody of these relics, reliquaries were created. These cases, boxes, chests Y manholes allowed to protect the relics, leaving them safe. With the weather, the reliquaries began to be exhibited in temples and other sites and acquired an aesthetic similar to that of an artistic work. In this way, the reliquaries began to be made with very valuable materials and to display different types of ornamentation.
The Valencia Cathedral, on Spain, has some of the most important reliquaries in the world. In them are the relics of San Luis Bertran Y San Juan de Ribera, among other saints.
Other examples of important reliquaries from around the world include the following: Holy Ark of Relics, the Ark of San Millán, the wooden casket located in the parish de Abárzuza, the enameled bronze casket of the Burgos Museum and the head of San Gregorio de Ostia.
Due to their symbolic or economic value, reliquaries are often objects of interest to thieves. In January 2014, for example, criminals stole a reliquary from John paul ii of the church San Pietro della Ienca, located in town Italian from L’Aquila.
Another name given to reliquaries in history is encólpium, when the Church was still a young institution. At that time, they were small medals or boxes with inscriptions and figures that were attached to necklaces. The most remote examples of reliquaries that have been found date from the fourth century; the Monza Treasure, also known as the Teodolinda’s Treasure, is located in Monza, the city located in northern Italy, and has a series of works of great importance to scholars of Ancient Rome.
In saying treasure, which was constituted from donations by Saint Gregory to Queen Teodolinda, and later by her, King Berengar I and the Visconti, we find famous reliquaries belonging to the 6th century, among which there are a series of small bottles that in the past were very common, and they were used to carry pieces of cotton dipped in blessed oil or from the lamps that illuminated the surroundings of the tomb of the martyrs.
So many centuries ago, public veneration of relics was possible by going to the altars and graves within which they were found. However, from the 9th century, people began to leave a series of caskets or boxes on these sites that we know today as reliquaries.
The reliquary continued to be used for several centuries until the time of Gothic architecture (also known as ogival), which emerged in France around the 12th century. The preferred format for this purpose seems to have been the casket, and its volume depended on the size and importance of the objects to be stored. It is worth mentioning that many times reliquaries of nature have been used profane.