Reliquary of Manlia Dedalia

Late Antiquity workshopSecond half of 4th century

Museo Diocesano Milano

Museo Diocesano Milano
Milano, Italy


  • Title: Reliquary of Manlia Dedalia
  • Creator Lifespan: second half of 4th century - second half of 4th century
  • Creator Nationality: Italian
  • Date: Second half of 4th century
  • Physical Location: Italy
  • Physical Dimensions: w6.5 x h16.3 x d15.9 cm
  • Goldsmith: Late Antiquity workshop
  • Description: The spherical container consists of two equal parts made ​​of a thick strip of embossed silver. The two halves are joined by a hinge and they close with a latch. The sober decoration is limited to the poles of the hemispheres. At the center of each is a Chrismon, and at its sides are the apocalyptic letters α and ω. Around the Chrismon is the Latin inscription Dedalia vivas on the lower half, and in Cristo on the top. The object came to light in 1578, during the dismantling of the main altar of the Basilica of the Apostles, St. Nazaro Maggiore), when the Archbishop Carlo Borromeo and his followers also found the Reliquary of San Nazaro. Given the high degree of wear, it is likely that the chest belonged to Dedalia and was used as a private reliquary for some time. Dedalia, whose full name was Manlia Dedalia, was a rich aristocrat who devoted herself to a virginal and consecrated life. At the time of her death, when she was sixty years old, her brother Manlio Teodoro, a high-level imperial official at the time of Saint Ambrose, had the piece buried in the chapel under the current chapel of San Vittore in Ciel d'Oro, a very prestigious location because of its proximity to the remains of the martyr. In fact, that is where Ambrose buried his brother Satiro. It is not possible to determine whether the chest was donated personally by Dedalia to Ambrose, or if the object went back to her family after her death and was then offered for the altar of the basilica by a relative.
  • Type: Metalwork
  • Rights: © Archivio fotografico Museo Diocesano, Milano
  • Medium: Engraved silver with gilding

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