Help us bring life to art, and art to lives. Make a donation.

Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Reliquary in the Shape of a Sarcophagus

5 5/8 x 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 in. (14.3 x 14.0 x 21.6 cm)
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)
Related Objects

Reliquary in the Shape of a Sarcophagus

Date: 400–600 Medium: Marble Accession: 49.69.2a, b On view in:Gallery 300

Table Base with Jonah Swallowed and Cast Up by the Big Fish

Date: early 300s Medium: Marble, white Accession: 77.7 On view in:Gallery 300

Lectern for the Reading of the Gospels with the Eagle of Saint John the Evangelist

Artist: Giovanni Pisano (Italian, Pisa ca. 1240–1319 Siena) Date: ca. 1301, with later additions Medium: Marble Accession: 18.70.28 On view in:Gallery 305

Tomb Effigy Bust of Marie de France (1327-41), daughter of Charles IV of France and Jeanne d'Evreux

Artist: Jean de Liège (Franco-Netherlandish, active ca. 1361–died 1381) Date: ca. 1381 Medium: Marble with lead inlays Accession: 41.100.132 On view in:Gallery 305

Reliquary Casket

Date: 6th century Medium: Marble with traces of paint in modern incised decoration Accession: 1978.273a, b On view in:Not on view