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Reliquary theca with relics of St Joseph, St. Martyr-Bishop Emygdius & St. Martyr Barbara

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Reliquary theca with relics of St Joseph, St. Martyr-Bishop Emygdius & St. Martyr Barbara

Oval glass-fronted silver reliquary theca housing relics of Saint Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Emygdius and St. Barbara. The relics are affixed to the red silk background surrounded by silver wire ornamentation and identified on manuscript cedulae labels as S. Joseph Sp. V.M. / S. Emygdii E. M. / S. Barbarae V. M. (Saint Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary / Saint Emygdius Bishop & Martyr / St. Barbara, Virgin & Martyr). On the back, under a protective cap, the theca is secured by a seal of red Spanish wax with an imprint of a coat of arms of an unidentified Roman Catholic Bishop.

The earliest records of a formal devotional following for Saint Joseph date to the year 800 and reference to him as nutritor Domini (educator/guardian of the Lord). Together with the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Child Jesus, Joseph is one of the three members of the Holy Family. Of all the saints in Christendom, the only ones of whom we possess no ex ossibus (from the bone) relics are the Blessed Virgin Mary and her husband Saint Joseph. This lack of bodily relics is attributed to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven body and soul, which is one of the great Marian Dogmas of the Church. The same reasoning is applied to the lack of bodily relics of Saint Joseph, Virgin-Father of Christ and Chaste Spouse of Mary. Saint Joseph is the patron saint of a number of cities, regions and countries, among them the Americas, Canada, China, Croatia, Mexico, Korea, Austria, Belgium, Peru, the Philippines and Vietnam, as well as of families, fathers, expectant mothers (pregnant women), travelers, immigrants, house sellers and buyers, craftsmen, engineers, and working people in general.

Saint Emygdius (†c. 309 AD) was a Christian bishop martyred during the persecution of Diocletian and known for performing many miracles and curing a paralytic and a blind man. The people of Rome believed him to be the son of Apollo and carried him off by force to the Temple of Aesculapius on the island in the Tiber, where he cured many of the sick. Emygdius declared himself a Christian, however, and tore down the pagan altars and smashed into pieces a statue of Aesculapius. He also converted many to Christianity; this enraged the prefect of the city. On his way to Ascoli, Emydgius made more conversions and performed a miracle where he made water gush out of a mountain after striking a cliff. Polymius, the local governor, attempted to convince Emygdius to worship Jupiter and the goddess Angaria, the patroness of Ascoli. Polymius also offered him the hand of his daughter Polisia. Instead Emygdius baptized her as a Christian in the waters of the Tronto, along with many others. Enraged, Polymius decapitated him on the spot now occupied by the Sant'Emidio Red Temple, as well as his followers Eupolus (Euplus), Germanus, and Valentius (Valentinus). Emygdius stood up, carried his own head to a spot on a mountain where he had constructed an oratory.  He is a Patron Saint of Ascoli Piceno; Guardiagrele; Naples (co-patron); and invoked against earthquakes. His feast day is commemorated on August 5.

Saint Barbara, known in the Eastern Orthodox Church as the Great Martyr Barbara, was an early Christian saint and martyr who is venerated as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. Accounts place her in the 3rd century in Nicomedia, present-day Turkey or in Heliopolis of Phoenicia, present-day Baalbek, Lebanon. She is a holy patron of Armourers, Architects, Artillerymen, Firemen, Mathematicians, Miners, and Prisoners.

Additional Info

  • ID#: 18-RSCR40-11
  • Size: 36 x 29 mm
  • Age: ca. 19th century
  • Origin: Italy
  • Materials: brass, glass
  • Price: $650
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