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Documented reliquary with relics of the True Cross and Apostles

Large oval glass-fronted brass reliquary theca housing first-class relics of the Apostles centered around particles from the Wood of the True Cross of Jesus Christ arranged in a cruciform shape. The relics are affixed to a red silk background decorated with elaborate gilt paperolle and silver wire ornamentation and identified on paper cedulae labels. On the back, the theca is secured with a perfectly preserved seal of red Spanish wax bearing an imprint of a coat of arms of Fr. Giovanni Maria Castelvetri (†1785),  Bishop of the Catholic diocese of Reggio-Emilia and Princeps in Northern Italy. The theca is accompanied by the original matching authentics document issued and signed by Bishop Castelvetri in 1752. 

In addition to the the Relic of the True Cross of Jesus Christ, the reliquary contains the following relics of the Apostles: Saint Peter; Saint Paul; Saint Andrew; Saint Bartholomew; Saint Jude [=Thaddeus]; Saint James the Greater; Saint Thomas Didymus; Saint Simon; Saint Matthias; Saint James the Lesser; Saint Philip; Saint Barnabus; and Saint Matthew.

This item is suitable for both private and public veneration by any Christian denomination.  

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. Empress Helena, the mother of Constantine, the first Christian Emperor of Rome, traveled 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.


Translation of the document from Latin:

Giovanni Maria Castelvetri (†1785)

Patritius of God at Modena and Bishop of the by the grace of the Holy Apostolic See at Reggio[-Emilia] and Princeps

To each and all who are about to look at our authentic document presented [here], we make a certain pledge and we testify in the word of Truth that the under-written Holy Relics were received from confirmed places and were shown to us in person—the records [of which] being in the transacted letters of our Chancery—with the sigil of Doctor of Divinity, Gaetano de Paulis [Bishop of Corada (1726-1744)], Patricians of God at Velletri and bishops by the grace of the Apostolic See a Jesuit Cara?? enclosing [them] up safe in the best way, namely [a piece] of the Wood of the Most Holy Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ; [and pieces] of the bones of Saint Peter the Apostle; Saint Paul the Apostle; Saint Andrew; Saint Bartholomew; Saint Jude [=Thaddeus]; Saint James the Greater; Saint Thomas Didymus; Saint Simon; Saint Matthias; Saint James the Lesser; Saint Philip; Saint Barnabus; Saint Matthew.

Allow me to grant, through my powers, that these things pass down, having been duly examined, and that they have been placed reverently inside a brass container of ornate appearance—appropriately ornate inside, as well—and covered over in the front with glass.

The which was carefully sealed and firmly bound with copper filament having been verified with our small seal affixed, pressed in red Spanish wax, stamped either by us ourselves or the below Vicar General. And we give this over freely for the greater glory of all-powerful God and the veneration of His Saints, with the ability to keep it, to give it to others, and to place it and exhibit it in any church, oratory, or chapel for the public veneration of the Faithful: In trust of all these things we have ordered the presents [terms] to be arranged as valid in perpetuity, written in our hand or that of our Vicar General, and affirmed by the impression of our great seal.

Given at Reggio Emilia from the Episcopal Palace on the 26 of June in the year 1752

Proclaimed [by] Giovanni Maria, Bishop

[Also signed by] Antonio Scurani, Bishop's Chancellor

Additional Info

  • ID#: 199-RSCR-16
  • Size: 60 x 52 mm
  • Age: ca. 1757
  • Origin: Reggio Emilia Province, Italy
  • Materials: Brass
  • Price: Price upon request
  • Orthodox Cross
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