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Thomas Becket Looking at medieval relics and reliquaries.

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1 Thomas Becket Looking at medieval relics and reliquaries

2 In the Middle Ages, the Roman Catholic Church preserved relics connected with the lives of Christ and his saints. The relics were kept in reliquaries. Here are some examples.

3 This reliquary holds a thorn from the crown of thorns that Christ wore on the cross. Can you see the thorn behind a crystal window? How can you tell that this relic mattered a lot to the church?

4 This reliquary was also made to hold a thorn. Why do you think it is on a chain? What can you guess about the person who owned it?

5 This reliquary was possibly made to hold a small piece of the cross on which Christ was crucified. How big do you think it is?

6 This reliquary contained fragments of the skull of St Eustace. He was believed to be a Roman general who became a Christian and died for his beliefs c.118 AD. What materials do you think have been used to make this reliquary?

7 The most popular English saint in the Middle Ages was Archbishop Thomas Becket. He became a saint after he was murdered in 1170 in Canterbury Cathedral. This carving shows what happened.

8 Chalice A priest who was an eyewitness Altar Thomas Becket praying Knights with swords Who can you see in the carving? What is each person doing? What clues are there that this happened in a church?

9 figure praying chalice altar two knights with swords figure emerging from a cloud Another reliquary Whose relics do you think were kept in this casket? What are the visual clues?

10 effigy of Becket shrine covered in jewels Becket’s tomb at Canterbury became a shrine. Pilgrims from all over Europe came to visit it. This souvenir badge gives some idea what Becket’s shrine looked like. framework of golden railings with jewels embedded

11 Why do you think people went on pilgrimage to Canterbury? Why do you think people bought pilgrim badges on their visit? How sure are you that each of these objects is a souvenir from Becket’s shrine?

12 Use what you have learned from this presentation to help you do this task. For each statement below, decide whether you … strongly agree / agree / disagree / strongly disagree It is surprising that Becket became a saint All pilgrims to Becket’s shrine were poor The church helped people to remember many saints like Becket Becket was only famous as a saint in England The medieval church was rich To see a relic you had to visit a shrine We will never really know what Becket’s shrine looked like

13 Find out more about the Medieval world: Visit the main Museum website Use Explore to look at some of our medieval objects


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