Bone, copper–gilt, wood; 7 3/4 x 7 5/16 x 3 1/4 in. (19.7 x 18.6 x 8.3 cm)
The Cloisters Collection, 1953 (53.19.2)
Bursa, or purse-shaped, reliquaries are one of the oldest types of reliquary, with numerous surviving examples from the seventh century onward. This one, dating from the tenth century, displays a masterful treatment of ivory wherein the surface is modeled by incision and relief carving while the background is pierced through (ajouré). In the Middle Ages, it was common for ivory-covered reliquaries to display scenes of the life of the saint, whose remains were held within the container, but in this example, the ivory displays more purely decorative imagery.