Illustrated Dictionary of British Churches - Reliquary Definition

History and Architecture

Reliquary

A container used to hold holy relics, usually of a saint. Generally only large churches, cathedrals, and monasteries would have such relics, and they would usually become popular pilgrimage destinations for people coming to pray to the saint in question. A reliquary could be practically any type of container, but were frequently ornately decorated chests of boxes, like the one on disply at St David's Cathedral in Wales. Many reliquaries were destroyed during the Reformation, and few that survived are on public display because they are so valuable.

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