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Reliquary theca with relics of St. Nicholas of Bari (Myra) & St. Teresa of Avila (of Jesus)

An attractive oval crystal-fronted silver reliquary theca housing relics of two saints: the first-class ex ossibus (of the bone) relic of Saint Nicholas or Bari and the second-class ex vestis (of the vest) relic Saint Teresa or Avila. Relics are affixed to the background of gold silk ground surrounded by pearls and identified in Latin on a manuscript cedula label decorated with a hand-painted image of a cherub as Os. S. Nicol. Bar. // Vestis  S. Theres. (Of the bone of St. Nicholas of Bari / of the Vest of St. Theresa [of Jesus]). On the back,  the theca is secured with a perfectly preserved seal of red Spanish wax bearing an imprint with a coat of arms of Fr. Giuseppe Bellotti (†1788), Bishop of Massa Lubrense (1756-1788).

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 the church of St. Nicholas. Modern scientific research in Bari and Venice proved that fragments in two cities belonged to the same skeleton. A small part of the relics is still kept in Turkey in Church of St. Nicholas.

Saint Teresa of Ávila, also called Saint Teresa of Jesus († 1582), was a prominent Spanish mystic, Carmelite nun, author during the Counter-Reformation, and theologian of contemplative life through mental prayer. She was a reformer of the Carmelite Order and is considered to be, along with John of the Cross, a founder of the Discalced Carmelites. She was canonized in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV, and in 1970 was named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI. She is a Holy Patron of bodily ills; headaches; chess; loss of parents; people in need of grace; people in religious orders; people ridiculed for their piety; sick people; and sickness.

Additional Info

  • ID#: 86-RSMBR-5
  • Size: 44 x 37 mm
  • Age: ca. 3rd quarter of the 18th century
  • Origin: Naples, Italy
  • Materials: silver, crystal, pearls, paper, Spanish wax
  • Price: $2,750
  • Silver
  • Orthodox Cross
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