Reliquary Casket of Saints Adrian and Natalia

Small silver casket with images of saints, scales on lid
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • Small silver casket with images of saints, scales on lid

Date:

1100/50

Artist:

Spanish, León

About this artwork

This rare casket was made to contain the sacred relics of Saint Adrian. It was fashioned like a miniature tomb, complete with a tiled roof and Romanesque columns. Adrian was revered as the patron saint of soldiers and a protector against the plague. A Roman officer in charge of the persecution of Christians, Adrian so admired the virtues of those whom he oppressed that he converted to their faith. After declaring himself a Christian, Adrian was arrested and brutally martyred in the early fourth century. Unflinchingly illustrated on the sides of this reliquary (and reinforced by the inscription) is the story of Adrian’s trial, his dismemberment, and the transport of his remains to a city near Constantinople by his devoted wife, Saint Natalia.

The casket’s design was hammered out from the reverse on thin sheets of silver, a technique called repoussé. The figures were reduced to simple, monumental forms composed of convex bulges, reflecting the style of Romanesque relief sculpture and manuscript illumination in northern Spain.

On View

European Decorative Art, Gallery 236

Title

Reliquary Casket of Saints Adrian and Natalia

Origin

Spain

Date

1100–1200

Medium

Silver and oak core

Inscriptions

Inscription: MARTIRIS EXIMINI SACRUM/QUI MARTIR FACTUS SPREVIT EUM/[JA]CET HIC ADRIAN

Dimensions

15.9 × 25.4 × 14.5 cm (6 1/4 × 10 × 5 3/4 in.)

Credit Line

Kate S. Buckingham Endowment

Reference Number

1943.65

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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