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prelates who were
martyred since the early ages of the Church,
Of clerics who
were not elected
to be martyrs
above her fellows,
labours of the
relics are preserved
in a shrine over the high altar of the church in a village called by
name—St. Gobain, near Laon ; and the body of St. Etto (known in
Sts. Caidoc and
Adrian) were buried at Centule, now called St. Riquier, in
who, coming from
Mézerolles. Then ensued a contention for the body of the
holy man. Erconwald, a noble who had
been greatly influenced by the teaching of St. Fursey, sent an escort
soldiers to bring the body for interment to a church he was building at
The coffin was placed beneath a canopy of beautiful tapestry, within the porch, until the church was ready to receive it, and a watch was set to frustrate any attempts to carry it off. In twenty-seven days a place was prepared, and the coffin was buried near the altar.
Four years later—654—the relics were translated to a shrine made for them by St. Eloi, the great goldsmith of the Merovingian period, in a chapel to the east of the altar.
Another translation occurred in 1056, and in the new shrine then erected they remained until the Revolution, when the church was destroyed. The head reliquary was, however, saved, to suffer more grievously in the bombardment of Péronne by the Prussians in 1870, yet to escape destruction more marvellously. The face was recovered from the midst of the ashes of the church, enclosed in an envelope of crystal from the reliquary, which had been
melted by the action of the fire, and its molten state had taken the impression of the face. 4
The skull, still preserved in a head shine, is thus inscribed :—
Sacræ Reliqulæ Sanct. Fursaei Urbiæ
At Luxeuil were numerous arm shines and reliquaries of Sts. Columban, Eustace, Walbert, and others, until destroyed during the French Revolution.
The principal shine of St. Columban stands as an altar in the crypt of the old Lombardic church dedicated to him at Bobio. It is a white marble sarcophagus, which was formerly surmounted by a statue of the saint. The front and sides are decorated with reliefs illustrating events in his life, and it is interesting to notice how in one of these the Polaire, Cumdach, or book satchel, carried by St. Columban, is represented.
The relics of
saint—St. Judoc—were brought from the scene of his ministrations in
In a church just outside the village of Gheel, near Malines in Belguin, is enshrined the body of St. Dymphna, the daughter of an Irish king of the seventh century ; and an Irish reliquary, supposed to be that of St. Fridolin, is
preserved in the treasury of the cathedral at Coire, in the canton of the Grisons.
In the crypt of the ruined old cathedral at Fulda, Germany, is the shine of the apostle St. Boniface ; and in the sacristy are preserved his crosier of ivory, and the dagger with which he was martyred by the Frisians, in 754 But even England still possesses a minor shine of the saint, which was discovered some years since in the ancient church of Brixworthy, in Northamptonshire, in the south wall of the south aisle.
It is a stone
reliquary of the
fourteenth century, about 15 inches in height and 7 ½ inches in
width. At the angles are small shafts with
capitals ; three of the four sides are trefoil-headed panels with
canopies. At each of the angles the
mortice holes show that pinnacles originally decorated them. The top
cavity 4 inches in diameter and about the same depth, containing a bone
has been revered in
Aichstadt since the eighth century, and when Bishop Hildebrand built
church in his honour, his relics were translated with great rejoicings
; but a
portion of his relics are enshrined at Furnes, in
Two of the ancient Irish feretories are yet extant, mutilated but beautiful, and in connection with one of them we are fortunate in having still preserved—but one solitary
example—the case or satchel in which the shine was kept. It was the general custom for the Irish to carry their smaller shines and books in satchels (called Menister for the former, and Polaire or Tiaga for the latter), a custom yet observed in some parts of the Eastern Church.
only are known to
exist in the
Moedoc, or shrine of
St. Moedoc, is probably the ninth or tenth century, and is mentioned in
Irish MS. Life of St. Molaise of the thirteenth century, now preserved
library of the
It has been
suggested that the
name of this shrine was originally the Bracc
Moedoc, which prefix was an ancient Irish word for hand,
this meaning that is was the shrine of St. Moedoc’s
hand. A thirteenth-century legend states
that it was brought from
Whether it contained a hand or any other relics of the saint in no way affects the fact of its being the shrine of St. Moedoc, the founder of the monastery at Ferns in the sixth century.
The shrine of
St. Moedoc had been
preserved for many centuries in the
[Illustration: Plate 19 Shrine
of St. Moedoc.]
--page not numbered--
was lent to a
man named Magauran
from the parish of Templeport, who deposited the usual pledge of one
its safe restoration. Tempted, however,
but the offer of a
The Breac Moedoc is one of the usual form of this kind of reliquary, a rectangular casket with a gable roof. The length is 8 7/8 inches, the breadth is 3 ½ inches, and the height
Shrine of St.
7 ¼ inches. The body of the châsse is of pale bronze covered with gilt plates. In the front were originally twenty-one figures in relief, only eleven of which remain, and the feet of three others. These figures are made in groups of three, and each group is differently treated in detail from the others. The first group at the base is surrounded by intertwined ribbons, and in the second group the figures are divided by the conventional birds so frequently seen in Scoto-Celic art. The figures hold books, swords, and other symbols. In the next row
stand three female saints in a diapered arcade, all of whom have their hair dressed in one fashion.
The ornaments have been torn from the ends, except one figure of bronze gilt, representing David seated and playing on a harp, while a dove hovers close by. This fragment also retains a small portion of Celtic scrollwork.
Cumdach of the
The back and bottom of the shrine are decorated with a parallelogram of small crosses pierced through a plate of bronze. A fragment of the border of the base remains, and has a ground of red enamel ; the margins, knots, and squares are of gilded bronze, the pattern within the squares being formed of blue glass and red and white enamel.
The invaluable case, or satchel, in which the shine was carried through the province of the clan, or the district of the patron saint, is provided with a broad leathern
Plate 20 Shrine of St. Moedoc.]
--page not numbered--
strap by means of which it was suspended round the neck. The satchel is of leather, and the whole of the ornament of interwoven bands with a central line, and of circles with a beaded decoration, is obtained, not by stamping, but by very shallow carving of the leather.
This one example, combined with written records, enables the imagination to grasp the progress of a Celtic bishop. St. Patrick is described as being followed by the boy Benen with his satchel on his back, and among the presents given by that saint to St. Fiacc was a cumdach containing among other things, a reliquary.
The other Irish
example is the
shine of St. Manchán, of Manghan, which still contains the
supposed relics of a
saint of that name—but of which particular Stain Manchán is
doubtful. Whether, in fact, it was the
actual name of a
saint, or whether it is a diminutive of Manach, Monachus, a monk, is difficult to
decide. Many were the holy monks of the
The saint whose relics are preserved in the shrine now to be described was probably the Abbot of Leith, in King’s County, whose death, Colgan records, occurred in 664.5 In the Annals of the Four Masters, under the year 1166, it is chronicled that “the shrine of Manchán, of Mæthail, was covered by Ruaidhri Ua Conehobhair (Rory O’Connor, King of Ireland), and an embroidering of gold was carried over it by him in as good a style as a relic was ever covered in Ireland.”
This description closely agrees with both the age and the art of the reliquary now preserved on the altar of a
chapel at Boher, in the parish of Lemanaghan, in which district stand the ruins of Leith Abbey where St. Manchán presided over his community, and after whom the parish is named.
Saved from iconoclastic zealots the shine was long kept in a small thatched building, used as a chapel until it was destroyed by fire, when local tradition asserts that the reliquary was miraculously preserved, it alone being saved unhurt while all else was consumed. It was then placed in the custody of the ancient family of Moony of
Shine of St.
The shine, or feretory, has a rectangular base 23 inches long by 12 inches wide, from which the sides rise without a break to a gable 19 inches high. It is supported by four feet 2 inches in height, which follow the rake of the
sides. The two ends are thus of triangle form. The framework is made of yew, which is yet quite sound.
The base of the shrine is surrounded by a border of bronze 1¼ inches wide, ornamented by a tau pattern of Champlevé enamel, between which is engraved a chevron design. The sides have borders of bronze 1½ inches wide, the edges of which are hammered up into cable mouldings, and the flat central bands are filled with a continuous pattern of intricate animal interlacings, pierced through the metal and exposing the timber beneath. On both of the sides is a large cross 18 inches in width and 17 inches in height ; at each extremity and in the centre is a large raise boss, 4½ inches in diameter and 1½ inches in relief, all enriched with interlaced lacertine ornament, except the two central, which were probably enameled. The arms of the crosses are each composed of four enameled plates ; the ground of the enamels is yellow with a border of red lines. Above and below the crosses were originally about fifty-two figures, sixteen below and ten or twelve above the cross on each side ; the figures are in high relief and were heavily gilt, but being fastened to the background by nails of bronze, many of them have fallen away, only ten remaining, all of which, by their vestures, are apparently laymen, mostly warriors. They are habited in close-fitting tunics with an outer covering with sleeves ; a girdle encircles the hips, and from it falls a richly embroidered philibeg, or kilt. The legs and feet are bare. The hair and beard are variously trimmed, and one figure appears to have a steel cap. Four of the figures bear distinctive emblems—on carries an axe, another a book, and two others have short swords.
Two other figures of the same elongated form have been found in the neighbourhood, which from their size and style probably belonged to the shrine of St. Manchán. One of them, with a richly chased conical helmet covering
the head and neck, is evidently a chieftain. the other is unmistakably in sacerdotal vestments ; the head is covered by a cap, or primitive mitre, and over a short alb is a chasuble of the same length ; in his hands he grasps a short cambutta, or pastoral staff, and his feet are covered with buskins.
The ends of the shrine are surrounded by borders similar to the sides, but the panels within them are sunk about half an inch and are each covered by a plate of bronze, the entire surface of which is enriched by beautiful interlaced work, divided into two compartments by an elongated monster, which is riveted down to the plate.
The crest of the shrine is lost, and with it probably the names of the donor and artificer, which in Irish work so frequently found a place on the joint production of their combined riches and skill.
Above the feet of panelled bronze are heavy clamps of the same metal, fastened to each corner and ornamented by heads of grotesque monsters ; these clamps hold rings—3 ½ inches in diameter—through which staves were inserted when the feretory was carried in procession.
The whole of the metal-work was richly gilt, and although but little remains—partly through age, and largely through the pious energy of a former priest’s servant, who, in her enthusiastic veneration for St. Manchán, so vigorously scoured the shrine to the detriment of its beauty—there is enough to realize how it must indeed have appeared to have “an embroidery of gold carried over it,” and to deserve the description by the compilers of the martyrology of Donegal, even as late as the early part of the seventeenth century, “a shrine…beautifully covered with boards on the inside and with bronze outside them, and very beautifully carved.”
When the shrine was somewhat recently opened it was found to contain certain bones and the greater portion of
a skull, some pieces of yew and thin pieces of silver ; the latter were evidently fragments of the plating of the sides of the shrine which had fallen away when the figures had become detached, and thus ceased to hold them in position.
the footsteps of
those Irish saints who crossed to
St. Piran left
The altar of that first oratory became his shrine, for he was buried beneath the altar stone, and when in the tenth century the shifting sands overwhelmed the church, the worshippers built another about a mile distant and carried the head of their saint to be enshrined in the new sanctuary.
The second church was rebuilt in a larger and more perfect manner at the beginning of the fifteenth century, and in 1433 the will of Sir John Arundel, of Trerice, contained the following bequest :—
“Item, lego ad usum
S’c’i Pyerani in Zabulo ad claudendum capud
At the period of the Reformation, when shrines were confiscated, there is reason to surmise—as will be seen hereafter—that the sacred relic of St. Piran’s head was first reverently buried with his other bones in the forsaken primitive oratory.
The sands continually drifted, and in their irresistible course again exposed the gable of the first buried oratory. With an immense amount of labour that primitive church was dug out of its sandy robe, and in September, 1835, the shrine of St. Piran was again exposed to view.
The altar of the orator was found to be placed in the position of a tomb, the length extending east and west, the east end abutting against the eastern wall. Beneath the altar slab were three headless skeletons, one was of a woman, probably the mother of the saint, who had accompanied her son in his self-imposed exile for the extension
of the faith. Lying between the leg bones of one of the skeletons were the three heads. These heads, it is supposed, has been again deposited in the original tomb for safety, in the sixteenth century, where it was known the other relics of St. Piran were buried.
Shame be to us that since this excavation the relics have been desiccated and lost, and the oratory nearly destroyed. The site has been surrounded in quite recent days by a protection rail.
For the relics
and shrines of
British saints we have already found it necessary to look abroad. The Revolution in
In the early
part of the fifth century
the body of St. Ninian was laid to rest in his church at Whitherne (
In the church of later date the shrine of St. Ninian became a renowned resort of pilgrims ; kings and princes knelt by his relics, and many a devotee came from abroad to venerate so great a saint.
1425 King James I of
protection to all pilgrims visiting this Scottish shrine, and in 1473, Margaret, queen of James III, attended by a retinue of ladies, made a pilgrimage. James IV paid many visits and gave large offerings, and his son James grasped the palmer’s staff and humbly bent his knee by the shrine, the sanctity of which continued to attract pilgrims for a considerable time after the Reformation.
In the remaining chancel of the old priory church stands a tomb beneath an arch of the presbytery, on the north of the high altar, which is suppose to be the shrine of St. Ninian, and as such it has recently been restored. The conjecture is doubtless correct, for, as with other early British saints, the body of the saint appears never to have been disturbed for translation into a movable feretory.
An effigy which
lies in the crypt
of Glasgow Cathedral is called the shrine of St. Kentigern, but there
to be no foundation for the assumption that it is in any way connected
that prelate. The cathedral was rich in
shines and reliquaries before the Protestant
Purge, but now we look in vain throughout
of the shrine of
a British saint is to be seen in the
St. Justin was
relics of the saint for eight previous centuries we have no knowledge.
Effigy of St.
The recumbent effigy of the saint is vested in a close-fitting cap, evidently the hood of the habit with is seen beneath a cope. In his right hand he holds a staff with a dog’s head as a finial, and an open scroll in the left. On the scroll and above the head is a mutilated inscription, which, as far as can be deciphered, is : “Hic jacet Sanctus Yestinus, cui Gwenllian, Filia Madoc et Gryffyt ap Gwilym, optulit in oblacoem istam imaginem p. salute animarium.”
In a secluded
valley of the Alan,
hidden away from the rushing world, still far remote from railway and
locomotive, reposes the town of
his relics, though moved from the structural throne, where for many centuries they were elevated for the veneration of the faithful.
Shrine of St. David.]
To that remote
--page not numbered--
The appearance of the shrine at this period cannot be determined, but that is was portable is evident, for in 1086 it was stolen and despoiled.7 Bishop Richard de Carew, in 1275, constructed a new feretory for the relics, and, from the offerings, was able to forward the rebuilding of the cathedral.
The structural part of St. David’s shrine is mainly of this date (1275), though showing various alterations at later periods.
It occupies the third bay from the east on the north side of the presbytery, and extends from pier to pier. On a moulded base is a seat for the pilgrims supported on three low pointed arches, each arch forming a recess about a foot in height and the same in depth ; the spandrels are relieved by deep quatrefoils, the two in the middle are pierced through the stone, and communicate with aumbries at the back. These opening are large enough to admit a hand, and were probably for passing offerings of money ; even at the present time occasional pilgrims drop coins into the cavities. Above the seat rises a blind arcade of three arches surmounted by crocketed hand-mouldings terminating in head corbels. The two heads which remain represent a priest and a youth with a coronet, and were recently removed from the back, Within the arches of the walls were painting of St. David in full pontificals in the centre, St. Patrick on his right, and St. Denis on his left ; these were extant in the time of Elizabeth.8
The back of the shrine, projecting slightly into the aisle, is very plain. In this lower part are three round-
headed aumbries, and above them two others between three quatrefoils.
Upon the uppermost slab rested the feretory—that which we have seen was stolen in 1086, carried out of the town, and totally stripped of its valuable casing. No further mention of it is known until 1326, when we find that the townspeople were required in time of war to
Shrine of St.
follow the bishop with the feretory for one day’s journey in either direction9 ; and a statute of Bishop Nicholls (1418-1433) enjoins the chantry priests to carry the relics in procession when so directed by the precentor.10 Three officers were appointed by Bishop Beck to take charge of the offerings.
The importance of this shrine and the great reverence
in which the relics of St. David were held may be gathered from a papal decree, that two pilgrimages to St. Davids were equal to one to Rome, whence arose the saying, “Roma semel quantum, dat bis Menevia tantum.”
Beneath the same roof, at the back of the choir stalls and open to the north transept, is the shrine of St. Caradoc ; there, by his own express wish, he was buried in 1124.
On a stone step for the accommodation of kneeling pilgrims, and canopied by a round arch, is the lowly shrine. Between a stone shelf and a shallow base the ground of the shrine is relieved by two pointed arches, and between them are peeved two quatrefoil chamfered innards, which may possibly have been for receiving the coins offered by pilgrims.
The tombs, or shrines, of two seventh-century saints—the founder of the see of Llandaff and his successor, Sts. Dubricius and Teilo—are still standing in that cathedral.
died and was buried
in the Isle of Bardsey, but his body was translated to Llandaff in 1120
Bishop Urban in the presence of David, Bishop of Bangor, and of
Arrived at Llandaff, it was through advisable that their relics should be washed after so long a journey, for which purpose three basins were placed before the altar of St. Peter and the three locals saints ; but when they began the ablutions “by the touch of the holy relics the water bubbled as if a red-hot stone had been thrown into it.”11 The body of St. Dubricius was then put “in tumbam ad hoc aptam,” and placed “in antique monasterio, ante Sanctæ Mariæ altare versus aquilonalem plagam” (in a tomb fitted for the purpose…in the ancient monastery, before St. Mary’s altar on the north side).
The tomb (upon which oaths were taken as late as the seventeenth century) is in the recess beneath a Norman window, and on it lies the effigy of a bishop in Mass vestments and wearing a mitre. This effigy is of early Decorated workmanship and was possibly placed there in honour of the saint when the presbytery was remodelled. The decoration of the arched recess and canopy is quite modern.
In 1850 the tomb was opened and the following inscription found in it :—
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