fri 23/08/2019

Treasures of Heaven: Saints, Relics and Devotion in Medieval Europe, British Museum | reviews, news & interviews

Treasures of Heaven: Saints, Relics and Devotion in Medieval Europe, British Museum

Treasures of Heaven: Saints, Relics and Devotion in Medieval Europe, British Museum

The breath, foreskin and umbilical chord of Christ preserved as Holy relics

A bust of one of 11,000 virgins who accompanied St Ursula on a pilgrimageThe Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

At the end of my road is a shrine dedicated to a young man murdered there more than a year ago. For the first few months lighted candles, plastic flowers, cards and poems penned by friends and relatives were left on a doorstep; now, though, a blue plaque commemorating his short life has appeared on the wall above a constantly burning flame. Over the years the messages have also changed from outpourings of sorrow to words of adulation; the lad, who by all accounts was a drug-dealing ne’er-do-well, has been elevated to the realm of sainthood by grieving parents determined to keep the flame of remembrance burning.

At first believers rationed themselves to removing peripheral items such as hair, teeth, nails and garments

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