The cult of saints caused reliquaries to be treated in a special way in the Middle Ages. They served as housing for objects of worship – the remains of saints and martyrs or objects which had come into contact with holiness, which is why considerable attention was paid to their construction using precious metals and beautifully decoration. They were often inlaid with expensive stones.
The herm is a name for reliquaries taking anthropomorphic forms, especially busts with a place at the front called a reservaculum , where the relic was placed. The presented object depicts an unidentified saint.
The history of medieval reliquaries begins with the 62nd decree of the Fourth Council of the Lateran in 1215 where the issue of enshrining holy relics was raised. They were supposed to be enshrined and presented only in protective reliquaries. It was the reason why reliquaries took various forms throughout the centuries...
The Włocławek reliquary (also known as the Kruszwica reliquary) was created in the 2nd quarter of the 12th century, supposedly in Swabia. It is linked to the Zwiefalten workshop. The exhibit is in the form of a rectangular low chest on four legs made of oak wood and covered with a copper sheet decorated with champlevé (blue, fair blue, white and green), engraved and gilded.
A reliquary in the form of a hand (forearm) placed on a polygonal base in a vertical position. The middle part of the reliquary is red (the sleeve of a robe) with visible relics put in a small rectangular panel obscured by a glass pane.
The monument to Mickiewicz which was unveiled in Kraków in 1889 was not the only honour given to the poet after his death. Over the 34 years that passed since the 26th of November 1855 (the date of his death), the poet’s body and his person, reproduced in depictions and photographs, was idealised. With time, it became less and less similar to the original. It entered the sphere of myth and interpretation.