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Reliquary is the site or container where are stored or protected relics (objects that are revered). The concept is often used in the field of religion .

He Christianity denominate relics to the remains of those people They have been sanctified. By extension, it is known as a relic to things that belonged to the saints or that had some kind of contact with them.

In the beginnings of Christianity, persecutions made objects linked to people who died to defend their faith acquire great value. The nails that were used to crucify the martyrs and the sheets with which they covered their bodies , among many other objects, were transformed into relics.

For the custody of these relics, the reliquaries were created. These cases , boxes , chests and arches they allowed to protect the relics, leaving them to shelter. With the weather , the reliquaries began to be exhibited in temples and other sites and acquired an aesthetic similar to that of an artistic work. In this way, the reliquaries began to be made with very valuable materials and to exhibit different types of ornamentation.

The Valencia Cathedral , in Spain , has some of the most important reliquaries of the world . In them are the relics of St. Louis Bertran and San Juan de Ribera , among other saints.

Other examples of important reliquaries from various parts of the world are the following: Holy Ark of the Relics, he Ark of San Millán, the wooden chest located in the parish from Abárzuza, the enameled bronze casket of the Burgos Museum and the head of San Gregorio de Ostia.

Because of their symbolic or economic value, reliquaries are often objects of interest to thieves. In January 2014, for example, criminals robbed a locket of John Paul II of the church San Pietro della Ienca , located in the city Italian from L'Aquila .

Another name that the reliquaries in history received is encópium, when the Church was still a young institution. At that time, it was small medals or boxes with inscriptions and figures that were attached to necklaces. The most remote examples of reliquaries found date from the fourth century; he Monza's treasure, also known as the Teodolinda treasure, is located in Monza, the city located in northern Italy, and has a series of works of great importance for scholars of ancient Rome.

In said treasure , which was constituted from donations of St. Gregory to Queen Teodolinda, and later by her, from King Berengario I and the Visconti, we find famous reliquaries belonging to the sixth century, among which there are a series of small bottles which in the past were very common, and were used to carry pieces of cotton dipped in blessed oil or from the lamps that illuminated the surroundings of the tomb of the martyrs.

So many centuries ago, publicly venerating the relics was possible by going to the altars and graves within which they were. However, starting in the ninth century, people began to leave a series of boxes or boxes on these sites that we know today as reliquaries.

The locket continued to be used for several centuries until the time of Gothic architecture (also known as ogival), which emerged in France around the 12th century. The preferred format for this purpose seems to have been the casket, and its volume depended on the magnitude and importance of the objects to be stored. It is worth mentioning that reliquaries of a nature have been used many times profane .

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