Ways to discover the collection
The large canon of saints was omnipresent in the Middle Ages. They were considered role models on account of their lives of piety, the martyrdom they suffered for the Christian faith and the miracles they performed. Since it was believed that they were immediately resurrected and thus with God, they could be appealed to for intercession on behalf of humanity. The saints were called upon for help on many different occasions and for everyday needs. They were also commemorated on their feast days according to the calendar of saints.
The veneration of the saints included the creation of sumptuous containers to store their mortal remains, or relics. The shape of these containers ranged from small boxes and translucent crystal vessels to reliquaries in the form of hands or busts. Countless sculptural or painted works were also inspired by oral or written accounts of their lives and legends. As the patron saints of churches, houses of prayer were dedicated to them and their likenesses were rendered on portals and murals. One such example is the Church of St. Cecilia.
Scene from the Altenberg Cloister Cycle: St. Bernard Preaches in Germany on the Crusades and Heals the Sick
Cologne, c. 1520-1530