Arm Reliquary Essay

1610 Words 7 Pages
There are several different types of relics in the Catholic world. The first type is a body part of a saint, like a bone, and instruments of the Passion of Christ. The second type are object s owned or touched by a saint; and the third type are objects that have come in contact with relics, and through the close proximity, have gained holiness. Since relics of God himself are unavailable, the churches utilize the cult of the saints as a way to legitimize their power in the Catholic world. The relics of saints represent the workings of God; and in medieval period, they were interpreted as God’s will and his forgiveness to the people or churches that owned and displayed the relics. Reliquaries, such as the Arm of Saint Louis of Toulouse and the Arm of Saint Luke, both from 1336 hold bone relics from saints. While relics of the Passion of Christ, such as the True Cross from the twelfth century …show more content…
It is the most common surviving form of body reliquaries with enduring “documents that attest to their use” (HAHN 21 VOICES OF SAINTS). The hand is almost always portrayed in an arm reliquary because of its sacredness within the Catholic religion. Christ’s hands are depicted in a blessing gesture or in an open palm fashion, but besides the holy hands of Christ, the bishop wore jeweled gloves during liturgical ceremonies to designate the otherworldliness of their hands” (HAHN VOICES 26). Consequentially, since the hand is so important, arm relics are the most frequently made reliquaries, even if an arm or hand bone is not the relic inside. Since it is a hand that is depicted on top of the reliquaries, there is a unique ability to create any type of gesture that best reflects the virtues and character of the saint that resides in the reliquary. Hahn notes that hands also have the unique ability to make gestures, like an open palm, or mimic Christ’s ‘blessing gesture’ (HAHN VOICES

Related Documents