Discover the story behind this amazing piece
Following the contour of the the chest of the bust the following inscription is written: + HOC : ENIM : CAPUT : sanctl : PANTELEYONIS : ET CeTera: 1509. The inscription confirms that this is indeed Saint Pantaleão. The date inscribed remains a mystery, is this the date of the reliquary's donation or is it there to mark an important date related to the bust's status as a reliquary remains unknown.
Panteleyoni, is the name of the saint for whom this reliquary was made.
This inscription reiterates the role of the reliquary in the adoration of the doctor martyr saint, known in the western christianity as Pantaleemone, the name itself meaning all merciful. This bust commonly known as the head of São Pantaleão was used by the cult for the adoration of this saint, martyred in Nicomédia in 303 AD.
During the high medieval period the cult of São Pantaleão saw an incremental rise in popularity in the city of Oporto.
According to accounts from this period after the fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453, a group of Armenians was carrying with them what was left of the body of São Pantaleão docked in the city of Oporto leaving the remains in the church of S. Pedro de Miragaia. The cult immediately achieved great prestige and fame leading the city to elect this saint as its patron on 12th December 1499. It was the bishop of Oporto D. Diogo de Sousa who oversaw the transferral of the remains to the Diocese of Oporto.
Several eminent figures were involved in the promotion of this cult in Oporto. King D. João II himself mentioned in his will the desire to have a tomb built for the purpose of housing these remains. His will however was never met.
In 1502, King D. Manuel his successor having found out about this fact orders that King João II's will be met.
Curator Ana Cristina Almeida Macedo
Content: Fátima Macedo
Support: Mafalda Macedo (Voluntária do MNSR)
Digital Production: Luis Ramos Pinto (DGPC)
Photographic credits: ADF / DGPC
Thanks: Google Arts & Culture