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1803 Vatican documented reliquary theca with relics of St. Nicholas of Myra

Oval silver crystal-fronted pendant reliquary theca housing the first-class ex ossibus (of the bone) relic of Saint Nicholas of Myra. The relic is affixed to the background of red silk ground surrounded by silver wire ornamentation and identified in Latin on a manuscript cedula label as S. Nicolai Ep. (St. Nicholas, Bishop). On the back, the theca is secured with a seal of red Spanish wax bearing an imprint with a coat of arms of Cardinal Giulio Maria Cardinal della Somaglia (†1830), Cardinal-Priest of Santa Maria sopra Minerva and Vicar General of the Vatican under Pope Pius VII. The relic is accompanied by the original matching authentics document issued by Monsignor della Somaglia in 1803.

Saint Nicholas († ca. 345) was buried in a church in Myra (modern-day Turkey) and his tomb by the Middle Ages already became a popular place of Christian pilgrimage. In May of 1087, under the pretext of preserving them from the Muslim Turks who occupied Myra, relics of the Saint were stolen by Italian merchants from the place of his burial and transported to Italy, where they are still kept in a crypt of a specially built Basilica of St. Nicholas in Bari. According to legend, when Italian merchants opened the sarcophagus, a spicy smell of myrrh spread from the relics of Saint. Merchants from Bari managed to take only some of the relics of the Saint, leaving many smaller fragments in the grave. These fragments were collected by Venetian sailors during the First Crusade (1096-1099) and taken to Venice, where they were kept in church of St. Nicholas. Modern scientific research in Bari and Venice proved that fragments in two cities belonged to the same skeleton. Small part of the relics is still kept in Turkey in Church of St. Nicholas.


Additional Info

  • ID#: 65-RSMBR-8
  • Size: 32 x 25 mm
  • Age: ca. 1803
  • Origin: Vatican
  • Materials: silver, glass, silk, paper, Spanish wax
  • Price: Price upon request
  • Silver
  • Orthodox Cross

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