The desire for possessing relics, which was wide spread throughout the Catholic world in the 16th century, had also reached the overseas territories.
Carved and engraved in gilt silver, the reliquary monstrance bears a lot of evidence of Indian ornamentation, particularly in the work of the silversmith. In place of the lunula for the sacred Host, the centre contains a cylindrical glass reliquary with a thorn from the crown of Jesus.
The hexagonal three level base is decorated with plant motifs alternating with crosses and small angels’ heads. On the lowest part is a tablet with the letters of Christ’s trigram. The central pear-shaped joint on the cylindrical shaft is decorated with acanthus leaves and surmounted by two stylized capitals. The receptacle above is oval rather than the usual circular form meant to contain the Host; it is surrounded by gilt silver decoration, with two angels with Indian features at the top, beneath the pinnacle in the form of a cross. Visible also are two of the four tintinnabula that complemented the decoration.


  • Title: Reliquary monstrance
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 17th century
  • Physical Dimensions: 48.5 x 24 x (hexagonal base) 21 x ø18 cm
  • Provenance: Old Goa, Basilica of Bom Jesus
  • Medium: Metalwork, Gilt silver

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