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Reliquary monstrance with 2 relics of the Passion - the True Cross and the Holy Shroud

Elegant 18th century Baroque reliquary monstrance of parcel gilt and whitewashed wood housing two significant relics of ​the Christ's Passion: of the wood from the True Cross and of the material from the Holy Shroud. The relics are displayed in a  grass-fronted cavity located in the center the monstrance and identified on a fancy-cut paper cedula label as  De Ligno + DN  (of the wood [from the True Cross] of Our Lord) and De Sindone DN (of the Shroud of Our Lord). On the back, the cavity is secured by four seals of red wax with a perfectly preserved imprint of a coat of arms of a Catholic Bishop. Fit for a for public veneration.

The True Cross is the name for physical remnants which, by the Church tradition, are believed to be from the cross upon which Jesus was crucified. The Empress Helena, mother of Constantine, the first Christian Emperor of Rome, travelled to the Holy Land in 326–28, where she discovered the hiding place of three crosses that were believed to be used at the crucifixion of Jesus and of two thieves, St. Dismas and Gestas, executed with him, and a miracle revealed which of the three was the True Cross. Fragments of the Cross were broken up, and the pieces were widely distributed; in 348, in one of his Catecheses, Cyril of Jerusalem remarked that the "whole earth is full of the relics of the Cross of Christ." Most of the very small relics of the True Cross in Europe came from Constantinople after the city was captured and sacked in 1204 during the Fourth Crusade. They were carved up by the present bishops and divided with other very precious relics among the knights; who, after their return to the homeland, donated them to churches and monasteries.

 

The Holy Shroud is considered one of the most important relics of Christianity. Its existence has been documented since the 6th century, when it was venerated in Edessa, Syria. In 944, it was brought to Constantinople, where it was depicted in the “Codex Pray” and described in the homilies of the Patriarchs and the reports of visitors. In 1204, during the 4th Crusade, it was stolen from its reliquary in the Imperial Palace Chapel by the French knight Othon de la Roche and brought to France via Athens. He sent it to his castle near Besancon, where it was shown in the local Cathedral on Good Friday. Since 1357, it was first venerated in Lirey, Champagne, then in Chambery, and finally brought to Turin, Italy by the Savoy Dynasty in 1598.

In the 18th century, two popes, Clement XII (p. 1730-1740) and Benedict XIV (p. 1740-1758), ordered pieces of the upper left and right edge of the shroud to be clipped to disseminate the resulting fragments as papal gifts. In addition, Savoy tried to use the phenomenal popularity of the Shroud as an object of veneration to achieve the aims of domination in Piedmont, conversion of Turin into a capital of the European autocracy and achievement of international recognition as a ruling house of the royal standing. It is likely that a number of reliquaries containing particles of the Holy Shroud were distributed by the Duke of Savoy Victor Amadeus II († 1732) in the form of gifts aimed at achieving dynastic aspirations of the House of Savoy.

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