18 de Julho - S. Frederico de Utrecht

Relicário com a forma do busto de S. Frederico
prata, parcialmente dourada
45 x 24 cm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdão, Holanda


This bust was made to hold pieces of the skull of St Frederick. Frederick was the eighth bishop of Utrecht. He became embroiled in a dispute between Emperor Louis the Pious and his sons. In 834, having just celebrated mass, he was murdered by adherents of the Emperor. It was not long before he was canonised. His bones lay buried for centuries in St Salvator's church in Utrecht. In 1362 the church was restored. St Frederick's grave was then solemnly opened. The head of the saint was separated from the torso. Elyas Scerpswert was commissioned to make a reliquaryReliquariesA reliquary is a casket or other object designed to preserve a relic. Relics are body parts of saints, a bone or a skull. Objects that have had some contact with the saint, such as items of clothing can also serve as relics. In the Middle Ages a relic was regarded as a precious possession that merited an appropriate surround. There are different sorts of reliquary, varying from splendidly decorated caskets made of precious materials to images of saints that contain the relic of the saint concerned. One remarkable sort is the 'speaking reliquary', shaped like the body part preserved. The portrait head of St Frederick for instance contains a part of his skull. for a part of the skull. He made this strikingly lifelike 'portrait' of the saint, complete with crow's-feet round the eyes and a stubble beard.


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