Worship and Authority
Reliquary Summary:

The demand to be close to the tangible remains of heroic Christians, the great confessors and martyrs, and the tangible remains of Christ's life encouraged the distribution of relics.  Fragments of bone, bits of fabric worn by a saint, or a segment of a staff, became essential talismans in Christian ritual.  The enthusiasm can be seen in the 396 celebration of the arrival of relics from Rome to the French city of Rouen.  A local cleric Victricius, speaking for the Christian community, stated: “Give me these temples of saints. . . If a light touch of the hem of the savior’s garment could cure, then there is no doubt that these dwelling places of martyrdom (the relics) carried in our arms, will cure us.”  Here Victricius refers to the Gospel story of Christ healing the woman with the issue of blood when she touched his robe (Luke 8:43-48), thus stating that the saints who imitated Christ’s virtues were delegated power from Christ to heal.  He continues, “Let us draw down on us the favor of the saints. . . Their dwelling is on high, but let us evoke them as our guests.” (Hillgarth, J. N., ed. Christianity and Paganism, 350-750, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1986, 23)
Such relics were enshrined in the most lavishly built objects, justified by reference to Scripture. Durandus, the late 13th-century bishop of Mende, France, who wrote the Manual for the Understanding of the Symbolism of Churches. Books XII-XIII and XLVI paraphrase a passage from Exodus (35:4-7) "Take everything that is precious but only receive from those who are willing: gold and silver, and brass, violet and purple fabrics  . . . . Make oil to maintain lights, and make ointment, and most sweet incense, onyx stones and precious stones to make for me a sanctuary adorned with sardonix and precious stones so that I may dwell among them."  He is explicit that God has ordered that the chandelier and other ornaments of the altar should be made of gold and silver.  Thus the medieval worshipper was committed to enshrining objects in the gleam of precious stones and vivid color.

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