Reliquary (receptacle for relics) with Fragments of a Human Femur
Graubünden, probably 18th century
According to Catholic understanding saints can fulfil the function of God’s intermediaries for the devout. Their worship of relics goes back to early Christianity and reached its peak in the Middle Ages.
The remains were said to have outstandingly effective powers. Humans could partake of this by going on a pilgrimage to visit relics, by praying to them and by touching them.
The reformers of the 16th century criticised the belief in saints and had the relics removed from many churches. In Catholic churches relics are worshipped to this day. Where these festively adorned relics come from is unfortunately unclear.