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Urn reliquary with relics of 40 Martyrs of Sebaste

Important and highly unusual painted wood glass-fronted urn-type reliquary on gilt lion feet and housing very large first-class ex ossibus relics of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste. The individual relics are labeled with the names of the martyrs and the reliquary itself is labeled on the front with red paint as SS XXXX MM (Holy 40 Martyrs). The lid of the reliquary is topped by a decoration of the crown and palm branches and secured by a red ribbons with wax seals bearing imprint of a coat of arms of Pellegrino Maria Carletti, Bishop of Montepulciano, Italy (1802 - 1828).

The Forty Martyrs of Sebaste were a group of Roman soldiers in the Legio XII Fulminata (Armed with Lightning) whose martyrdom in 320 for the Christian faith is recounted in traditional martyrologies. They were killed near the city of Sebaste in Lesser Armenia, victims of the persecutions of Licinius. The earliest account of their existence and martyrdom is given by Bishop Basil of Caesarea (370–379)  but the Feast of the Forty Martyrs is older than Basil himself, who eulogised them only fifty or sixty years after their deaths.

According to Antonio Borrelli, their names were: Aetius, Eutychius, Cyrius, Theophilus, Sisinnius, Smaragdus, Candidus, Aggia, Gaius, Cudio, Heraclius, John, Philotemon, Gorgonius, Cirillus, Severianus, Theodulus, Nicallus, Flavius, Xantius, Valerius, Aesychius, Eunoicus, Domitian, Domninus, Helianus, Leontius (Theoctistus), Valens, Acacius, Alexander, Vicratius (Vibianus), Priscus, Sacerdos, Ecdicius, Athanasius, Lisimachus, Claudius, Ile, Melito and Eutychus (Aglaius). 

They are venerated in Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodox Church, Eastern Catholic Churches, Roman Catholic Church and their Feast is commemorated on March 9 (East) and March 10 (West).

Additional Info

  • ID#: 121-LCR-12
  • Size: 22 x 15 cm
  • Age: ca. first quarter of the 19th century
  • Price: Price upon request
  • Orthodox Cross