Reliquary Cross with Christ and the Virgin, Copper alloy, Byzantine

Reliquary Cross with Christ and the Virgin

9th–13th century
Copper alloy
Overall: 4 7/8 x 2 1/4 x 1/2 in. (12.4 x 5.7 x 1.3 cm)
Metalwork-Copper alloy
Credit Line:
Gift of Estate of Lawrence J. Majewski, 1999
Accession Number:
Not on view
This cross and similar examples are made of two crosses hinged at the bottom, which allowed access to a hollow space meant to hold a relic. The large numbers of surviving copper-alloy reliquary crosses suggest that they were not used solely for relics of the True Cross or other primary relics, such as the bone of a saint; instead they likely contained secondary relics, for instance, a piece of earth from a holy site or a piece of fabric made holy through contact with the body of a saint.
Inscription: Inscribed in Greek: (on obverse) [initials for] Jesus Christ; (on reverse) [initials for] Mother of God
Lawrence J. Majewski, Wappingers Falls, New York (1950s-1999)