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(rĕl'əkwĕr`ē), receptacle containing the relics of saints and other sacred objects of the Christian religion. Reliquaries were often designed in shapes that reflected the nature of their contents, such as hands, shoes, buildings, and heads. They were richly decorated with gold, silver, enamel, and jewels.



a repository for relics, characteristic mainly of the Christian cult.

Reliquaries, known since the third century, were especially widespread in Western Europe and to a lesser degree in Byzantium and ancient Rus’. They could be of the most varying forms, from tiny coffers to large shrines. Reliquaries were made of precious metals, ivory, or wood, and were executed by casting or carving. They were decorated with precious stones, pictures, and ornaments.


Braun, J. Die Reliquiare des christlichen Kultes und ihre Entwicklung. Freiburg im Breisgau, 1940.


a receptacle or repository for relics, esp relics of saints
References in periodicals archive ?
A reliquary is a work that is specifically designed to exercise a certain kind of sacra that is related to important and revered individuals," she said.
A Newly Crimsoned Reliquary is the most recent release in her Monastery Murders series which also includes: A Very Private Grave, A Darkly Hidden Truth and An Unholy Communion.
unholy crime A nun holds a glass reliquary containing the blood of John Paul II
The police found out a gold reliquary, as well as a crucifix, was missing.
Both the reliquary and cinema play on the idea of the signifier standing in for the missing body (a bone fragment for the bodily saint; a star's close-up for the flesh and blood actor).
In Smithson's other non-sites, even if their structural model may well be the topographical reliquary of the holy site, there is no grounding in Mount Moriah.
Topkapy Palace is also home to a casket containing soil from the tomb of the Prophet, a reliquary thought to contain one of his teeth (Dendan-y Saadet) and locks from the Kaaba.
Objects include rare loans from the Vatican's Sancta Sanctorum, the Mandylion of Edessa, and the British Museum's bejewelled Holy Thorn reliquary, reminding us that this unique material history is both a proclamation of political power and an expression of Christian faith.
The French Jesuit Florian Jubaru, a professor in the Collegio Leoniano in Anagni, was the first scholar to receive permission to open the altar of the Sancta Sanctorum; his study of Saint Agnes necessitated an examination of the martyr's head, which was contained in a reliquary found within the chapel.
Even the somewhat later and more naturalistic Bohemian silver-gilt Reliquary with the Man of Sorrows (4347-49), from the Waiters' permanent collection, could be said to mediate between the earthly environment of the viewer and the sacred realm of the True Cross (as Jesus's own crucifix is known), fragments of which were believed to have been deposited inside the central figure, although none remains extant.
These exhibits include the sacred tooth relics of Lord Buddha, Kanishka Relic Casket from Shah-Ji-Ki-Dheri, stone reliquary in stupa shape and a golden Casket.
Yesterday during the Mass, Benedict received a silver reliquary holding a vial of blood taken from John Paul during his final hospitalisation.