BYZANTINE PILGRIM'S RELIQUARY CROSS
5th-8th century. Bronze, 1 1/4" height. Beams chiseled with a cross and saltire centered predating the representation of the corpus. Made of two hollow back crosses, hinged/pinned top and bottom, the interior of each hollowed making an inner compartment for inclusion of a sacred relic, the hair of a saint, splinter of the cross or similar. One end of the cross beam lacking one side, but sealed as made with its original inclusion/sacred relic. This and the following example are the only two sealed from their time of use that we have ever encountered including those offered at the international auctions through the decades. Pilgrimages to the Holy Land were fundamental to Christian faith but made increasingly difficult with the rise of Islam. Ultimately, the Crusades were organized to liberate the Holy Land from Islam.