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Like a solidified drop of Christ's blood, anointing a thorn held to have drawn that sacred blood, it was an object to which immense power was once attributed - the power to save a princess's blood, as she went into the throes of childbirth.It might be thought that an exhibition of relics and reliquaries would be of limited interest. Relics may have been designed to appeal to a specifically Christian audience, but the emotions of which these affecting objects and images speak are universal human feelings: the fear of dying; the desire for health; release from pain and danger; and sorrow at the loss of those who were loved, and who now are gone.The bodies and bones of the martyrs were especially precious to the early Christians, because they had so little else on which to found and spread their faith.Long into the Middle Ages, many reliquaries would continue to resemble miniaturised tombs, into which the devout might reach to touch the container housing the saint's relic.When conservators at the BM opened the Hildesheim portable altar - a tablet of stone decorated with ivory and gilt images of the crucifixion, angels and saints, first consecrated in the late 12th century - they discovered that it still contained more than 40 saints' relics, packed into its core and each one wrapped in a tiny bright bundle of medieval (and sometimes Byzantine) cloth.The object is displayed together with a selection of its innards, including a scrap of flaxen pale hair said to be that of St John the Evangelist.

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I know some of you have been seeking God for years. So a husband is not a litmus test as to whether or not you are putting God first in your life.To Oct 9; review also appears in Seven magazine, free with The Sunday Telegraph The Big Short, the film adaptation of Michael Lewis' book of the same name about the causes of the financial crisis, opens in UK cinemas this weekend.How will the story stack up against the greatest films about business?Towards the end of the 10th century, so-called "speaking reliquaries" were developed to express, all the more compellingly, the belief that long-dead saints might still, through their mortal remains, reach into the present and salve the woes of the faithful.Reliquaries took on mortal form, shaped themselves like the faces or the bodies of those whose relics they contained.The first is a Holy Thorn reliquary created in Paris at the end of the 14th century, for the Duc de Berry, by a group of the most talented goldsmiths ever to have lived.


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