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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.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


a receptacle or repository for relics, esp relics of saints
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
The curator of the exhibition, Nathaniel Silver, did not simply seek to reunite the four reliquaries. He presents them as part of a tight group of 13 works (12 paintings and a drawing) by Fra Angelico in Italian and American public collections, which makes us look at the artist in an altogether fresh way.
In 1899, Isabella Stewart Gardner acquired one of the four reliquaries: the mesmerizing "Dormition and Assumption of the Virgin." It was the first painting by Angelico to come to America.
The exhibit centers on a database of 2,000 Kota reliquaries that Belgian researcher and computer engineer Frederic Cloth developed.
And certain kinds of reliquaries, those that mimicked the shape of the body part contained within--called "speaking reliquaries" by German historians--are the most interesting for the purposes of this investigation, especially arm reliquaries, which for obvious reasons, share a connection to the outstretched arms in Imax ads (Fig.
(14) The relics themselves were contained in reliquaries that were housed within a ninth-century cypress chest sponsored by Pope Leo III; this chest was inserted within the cavity of the altar and was secured by bronze doors and metal grating (figs.
I had trouble with one of my spoof reliquaries on my very first appearance on Late Night Line Up with Joan Bakewell.
The unique vessels used in this practice have inspired me to make these containers, known collectively as reliquaries, the focus of my art practice."
Cornelison probes the "miraculous power" of St Zenobius's relics and reliquaries, in "When an Image Is a Relic: The Saint Zenobius Panel from Florence Cathedral," relating them to the Maestro del Bigallo's altar frontal and the decoration of the Saint Zenobius chapel.
Around them in small communities scattered through the dense rainforests were more than forty ethnic groups that made similar reliquaries of their venerable ancestors.
The relics were enclosed in precious alabaster reliquaries.
These works are combined with special displays created from the museum's extensive collection of objects, some previously unseen, including mourning jewellery, reliquaries, funeral bills and execution plates.
The central focus of this book is the Buddhist reliquaries which were found at Sanchi and other nearby stupa sites (Satdhara, Sonari, Bhojpur, and Andher) by Alexander Cunningham and F.