Reliquary Pendant in form of a Book
This example is unique in including only two reverse-painted panels. As a result, the clear glass of the front cover serves as a sort of window into the book’s interior. The interior image would have been obscured by the pendant’s contents until the book was opened and the contents removed. The book’s back cover features a beautifully executed sacred monogram in the center of a framed red field. Above, the cross rises from the H’s cross bar; below, the three nails secure the composition within a field of flowers in an outer frame. The owner might have worn this locket on his chest, which would indicate that he held Christ in the “book” of his heart.
The identity of the haloed figure, beautifully painted on the underside of the glass on the interior of this pendant, is something of a mystery. The figure is swarthy with a dark forked beard and wears an elaborate Renaissance-style costume with a turban and scarf. The figure may represent one of the Magi. This little book (and others of this type) might once have held a textual amulet, some of which were composed of passages from the Bible, especially the Gospel of John, perhaps in conjunction with a protective formula such as the names of the Magi.