Magnificent Antique French Gilded Brass Reliquary w/Large Agnus Dei Wax Wafer
This is a special reliquary, with an Agnus Dei central wax figure so delicate and so ethereal that it simply glows from beneath the round glass. This is an authentic antique piece (late 19th century), coming from an old and fine collection in Paris.
The tradition of the Agnus Dei wax seal: during certain seasons discs (sometimes round, sometimes oval in diameter) are impressed with the symbol of Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) and blessed by the Pope. Though usually impressed with the lamb, wealthy patrons of the church could choose to custom impress the discs with another image. These Agnus Deis were then worn suspended round the neck, or preserved as objects of devotion (as is the case with this example). In virtue of the consecration they receive, they are regarded, like holy water, blessed palms, etc., as Sacramentals.
This wax disc is impressed with a touching Madonna and child. The reliquary is stunning, with large faceted oval stones in a brilliant emerald green and rose pink. There is a cross at the top with smaller matching stones. The wax wafer depicts Mary holding the Baby Jesus in a beloved embrace, they each wear crowns and robes. The wafer is placed under glass and set into a gilded brass mount.
The gilded brass mount is surrounded with small, clear paste stones. The small stones continue around the petals of the flower. The pedestal is formed with arabesques and round balls. It has a wide bottom with four feet which are very delicate and scrolling. There is a jeweled festoon on the front with a large medallion encircling a large ruby paste stone with two smaller glass stones at the top and bottom. The remaining three sides of the base have gilded metal medallions with a central cartouche and surrounding flowers.
It measures 12 1/4” tall, the base 3 3/4” square, the central wax medallion is 1 3/4” in diameter; the surrounding flower 5 1/4” wide. It survives in very good antique condition.
It is a precious devotional reliquary.
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