Reliquary in the Shape of a Sarcophagus, Marble, Byzantine

Reliquary in the Shape of a Sarcophagus

Date:
400–600
Culture:
Byzantine
Medium:
Marble
Dimensions:
5 5/8 x 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 in. (14.3 x 14.0 x 21.6 cm)
Classification:
Sculpture-Stone
Credit Line:
Gift of Miriam N. Rosen, 2002
Accession Number:
2002.483.3a, b
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 300
The inscription on this reliquary suggests that it was given to a church or shrine in memory of a miracle, likely a cure, or in anticipation of a request made to the saint whose remains were kept in the box.

The gabled stone sarcophagi used for Christian burial were the model for miniature copies, like those seen here, that were manufactured throughout the Byzantine Empire as containers for relics, the remains of a holy person, or objects made holy by physical contact with them. Beginning in the fourth century, the bodies of martyrs and saints were exhumed, divided, and moved to local churches, where they were placed in reliquaries that were enclosed within altars or buried under them or displayed in chapels dedicated to the saint.
Inscription: (on lid:) +YπEPEY / XHΣIWAN / NOYEπIΣ / KOπOY + ["In fulfillment of a vow of John the Bishop"]
Miriam N. Rosen, New York (until 2002)