Foot reliquary of Saint Blaise

Oignies workshop
c. 1260

Around half of the Treasure of Oignies comprises reliquaries. Their purpose was to make saints’ relics – such as bones, pieces of clothing, oil from a tomb – accessible to the faithful by setting them in ostentatious objects. As cult objects that were particularly popular during the 13th century, relics were supposed to emit supernatural powers that enabled the saint or the sacred object to intercede between God and the pilgrim. At the end of a long and arduous journey, the pilgrim had only to approach, see and touch them through the prestigious intermediary of the reliquary.

This foot-shaped reliquary is attributed not to Hugo d’Oignies, but to his workshop, where it was probably finished around 1260. It contains a relic of Saint Blaise, the Bishop of Sebaste (Armenia), that Jacques de Vitry sent to the priory from Acre.

“Speaking” reliquaries, which contain the remains of a saint, are amongst the most spectacular reliquaries: their shape corresponds to the part of the body from which the relic came.

Publication « The Tresor of Oignies »
Website Musée Provincial des Arts Anciens du Namurois

Material / technique: 
Oak base covered with silver, gilt, and a rock crystal plaque
25 x 25 cms
Type of acquisition: 
Donated by the Sœurs de Notre-Dame de Namur
Year of acquisition: 
Depository institution: 
Musée Provincial des Arts Anciens du Namurois, Namur