Two relics from Bethlehem, Israel, 1900-1929

Made:
1900-1929 in Bethlehem
maker:
Unknown

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Specimen bottle containing two Christian pilgrims relics from Bethlehem

These two objects, one still with its paper wrapping, were collected by Christian worshippers on a pilgrimage to Bethlehem in the early twentieth century. They are small tablets of terra sigillata – a clay traditionally believed to have medicinal qualities. The clay was ground up and used in medical preparations, a practice begun in the Middle Ages that continues today.

The wrapping is marked with a Latin inscription which translates as “Believed to be from the sacred crypt of the suckling blessed virgin Mary”. This white clay is from the Milk Grotto at Bethlehem, a holy site for Christians because they believe it was where Mary gave birth to Jesus Christ. The clay was also used to help women who had difficulty breastfeeding.

Details

Category:
Materia Medica & Pharmacology
Object Number:
A78647
Materials:
bottle, glass, relic 1, plaster, moulded, relic 2, paper, relic 2, wax, sealing
Measurements:
relic 2: 8 mm x 22 mm x 21 mm,
relic 1: 41 mm x 23 mm,
type:
relics
taxonomy:
  • drug
  • furnishing and equipment
  • container - receptacle
  • ceremonial container
credit:
Mutch, N.
status:
Loan: Wellcome Trust

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