A relic to be relished

In Chillon Castle’s first courtyard, archaeologists stumbled upon the remnants of a 12th-century chapel (room 10). Hidden within it were fragments of bone which, when pieced together, formed a reliquary.

A reliqu-what now?

Follow the guide to get the full story…

Crypt of Chillon Castle containing the reliquary

These delicately and artistically sculpted fragments weren’t just strewn all over the place. They were inside the altar – the sacred table priests use to celebrate mass – and wrapped around a small piece of scapula.

In piecing all of this together (physically and mentally), researchers concluded that the item must have been a container for a relic – in other words, some or all of the bones belonging to a saint – hence the name ‘reliquary’.

The sanctity of these preserved bones, which typically belonged to venerated figures in Christianity, rendered the religious building sacred in the eyes of the medieval people, giving the space an element of divine power. The item itself has also been dated back to the 12th century, when the Savoy family owned Chillon Castle and their influence spread north of Lake Geneva and throughout Vaud.

Pretty cool, right?

Facsimile of the Chillon reliquary, 1914

In 1914, three facsimiles were made of the reliquary, using plaster casts of the fragments. These were not necessarily exact replicas, but instead hypotheses of how it might have looked. In keeping with medieval style and form, the reconstructed plates have been fixed onto a wooden structure. The reliquary on display is one of these replicas.

Come and relish our replica relic!





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