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Reliquary Cross with Mary and Saints

Large-scale sculpture and painted icons were created to inspire public devotion in churches. Smaller objects with religious subject matter were made for private homes and—like this example—made to be worn as jewelry. This beautifully crafted cross included a hinged compartment that was intended to contain a sacred relic. This fact, as well as its size and use of a precious metal, indicates that it might have been intended for use on ceremonial occasions.

Byzantine
Reliquary Cross with Mary and Saints
6th–7th century AD
Silver
L. 5 in. (12.6 cm), W. 2 5/16 in. (5.8 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, 62.117.141