A window on a supernatural helper

On 26 August 1833 Basel was divided into two semi-cantons. In the course of this division the Basel Minster treasury was also divided. With far-reaching consequences ...

Andrej Abplanalp

Historian and communications chief of the Swiss National Museum.

When the canton of Basel was divided in two in 1833, the famous treasure of the Basel Minster was shared between the two new cantons, with Basel-Landschaft receiving 64 percent.The ecclesiastical treasures were sold to raise urgently needed funds, including the silver reliquary dating from 1450, which fetched 562 francs for the canton’s coffers. It is shaped like a foot to reflect its contents– what were believed to be the foot bones of a little boy murdered in Bethlehem on the orders of King Herod.

While this might strike modern observers as creepy, believers regarded such relics as objects of religious veneration. A window of polished rock crystal allowed the relics to be viewed by the public on feast days, and churchgoers hoped that a glimpse of them would allow them to obtain divine aid.

Image 01 of 05
Image 01 of 05
Image 01 of 05
Image 01 of 05
Image 01 of 05

Foot reliquary from the Basel Minster treasury, 1450, silver, copper, gold-plated, mother of pearl, enamel, pearls, gemstones and glass.

Further posts

Address & contact
Swiss National Museum
Landesmuseum Zürich
Museumstrasse 2
P.O. Box
8021 Zurich
info@nationalmuseum.ch

Design: dreipol   |  Realisation: whatwedo
Swiss National Museum

Three museums – the National Museum Zurich, the Castle of Prangins and the Forum of Swiss History Schwyz – as well as the collections centre in Affoltern am Albis – are united under the umbrella of the Swiss National Museum (SNM).