Montecassino (Campania)

Reliquary of St Matthew

Second half of the 11th century (c. 1058-1086)

    This reliquary in embossed and incised silver holds the relics of the apostle Matthew. It is made up of a cylindrical body decorated with plant motifs, pearls and four medallions with alternating griffins and winged sphinxes over which an inscription is engraved. The domed lid is also decorated with pearls, rinceaux and medallions framing birds, including two eagles and a peacock. The top is decorated with a small monkey eating fruit from the palm-tree on which it is sitting.
The inscription names Abbot Didier of Montecassino as having commissioned the work, and its intended recipient, a Roman noble belonging to the Frangipani family. The ornamentation's Byzantine and Islamic influences confirm the place and time of its production, southern Italy at the beginning of the period of Norman domination.

Dimensions of the object
H. 13,8 cm., D. 8,3 cm

- I Normanni, popolo d'Europa, Roma, Venezia, 1994, a cura di Mario d'Onofio, n 325.
- Italie des Normands, Normandie des Plantagents, Muse de Normandie, Caen, 1995, n 2.

Rome, chiesa dei Santi Cosma e Damiano

Photography : D.R.