Pyx Fragments with the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 304

As containers for the Eucharistic host, pyxides were essential accoutrements of the early Christian and medieval liturgy. Christ’s miraculous multiplication of the loaves and fishes is carved in low relief, reminding viewers of the biblical precedent for the Christian sacrament of communion (Mark 8:1-6). The remaining four of the original twelve Apostles of Jesus stride forward with the substance of Christ’s miracle held under veiled hands. While two men face to their left as though processing around the back side of the pyx (now lost), the other two figures face one another across the two fragments. A similar sixth-century pyx in the Met (acc. no. 17.190.34a,b) shows that the complete object would have featured the apostles processing toward a central figure of Christ from the left and the right.

Pyx Fragments with the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, Elephant ivory, Byzantine

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