23 June – 9 October 2011
Open late Fridays
Sponsored by John Studzinski
In association with
William and Judith Bollinger, Singapore
Betsy and Jack Ryan
Howard and Roberta Ahmanson
The Hintze Family
The Cleveland Museum of Art
The Walters Art Museum
Objects: St Baudime reliquary
According to legend St Baudime was a missionary sent from Rome by St Peter to bring Christianity to Gaul (modern-day France) during the early 3rd century AD. He travelled with St Auditeur and St Nectaire and settled in the Auvergne region of France where this reliquary is still held today.
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This reliquary was made between 1146 and 1178 and may once have held a relic
of St Baudime’s blood. The relic would have been held in a cavity at the back of the reliquary but it is no longer contained inside. There is no record of relics being contained inside the reliquary beyond 1871.
St Baudime’s reliquary has a turbulent history – the gemstones which were once studded all over his vestments were likely removed during the French Revolution in the 1790s. The reliquary was also stolen at the beginning of the 20th century by a notorious art thief. It was found soon after by police, apparently languishing in a wine cellar.
We might normally expect this type of reliquary (known as a ‘speaking reliquary’) to contain a skull – as the form of the reliquary would literally speak its contents. However, there is no record of this container ever having held a skull relic, which further adds to the object’s mystery.
This rare survival has never before left France and is one of the exhibition’s most astounding objects.