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Reliquary chest

 

Reliquary chest

Author: Unknown

Date: 1419

Material: Gilt silver and enamel

Dimensions (cm): H 18,7 x W 26 x D 12

Inscription: ERA DE MIL E CCCCLVII ANOS EM DIA DE S. MARIA DE MÇO LUIS VASQES POL DESTA IGIA FEZ ABRIR HUA ARCA QESTA EN O ALTAR MOOR A QUAL NO SAVIAM ABERTA DES MAMORIA DOS OMES E FORAN EN ELA ACHADAS ESTAS RELIQIS PAR VESTEDURA DE NOSO SENHOR IHU XP E PTE DE HU VEU DE SATA MARIA E DAS VESTEDURAS DOS APOSTOLOS E MARTES E DE OUTRAS RELIQIAS DE SANTOS E SANTAS OTRAS

Provenance: Guimarães, Colegiada de Nossa Senhora da Oliveira

Inventory No.: MAS O 34

 

Considered a national treasure, this reliquary chest is made of embossed and engraved silver. The main faces are decorated with inscriptions in Gothic characters and the sides are decorated with motifs based on foliage, from which the donor’s coat of arms in enamelled plaques stands out.

It was commissioned by Dom Luís Vasques da Cunha, prior of the Colegiada de Nossa Senhora da Oliveira, to protect the relics of the mantles of Jesus Christ, Our Lady, the apostles and of other saints.

In 1527, this chest served in processions.

In 1664, under prior Dom Diogo da Silveira, the relics kept in a larger chest were brought together in this casket, filling it to capacity. With the loss of the key, the casket remained closed until the year 2000 in which it was opened, bringing to light numerous very old relics, distributed in boxes and bundles that were sent to the Instituto José de Figueiredo (nowadays Laboratório José de Figueiredo) to be studied.

 

Updated and free translation of the inscription:  Era of 1457, on the day of Saint Mary of March, Luís Vasques, prior of this church, had the chest that is on the high altar opened, which hadn’t been opened as long as people can remember, and inside these relics were found: part of the clothes of Our Lord Jesus, part of a veil of Saint Mary and of the clothes of the Apostles and of the Martyrs and other relics of Saints.