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.

 The Virgin and Child with St. Anne, Cologne, c. 1480, lime, 45.5 x 31 x 18 cm, Inv. No. A 1088, © Rheinisches Bildarchiv

The Virgin and Child with St. Anne
Cologne, c. 1480

 The Virgin and Child among Holy Virgins, Middle Rhine, c. 1430, walnut, 45 x 47 cm, Inv. No. A 95, © Rheinisches Bildarchiv

The Virgin and Child among Holy Virgins
Middle Rhine, c. 1430

 St. Catherine, Cologne, c. 1380, silver, cast, partially gilded, silver champlevé, H. 9 cm, Inv. No. G 643, © Rheinisches Bildarchiv

St. Catherine
Cologne, c. 1380

 St. Margaret, Brussels, c. 1500/1525, oak, H. 74.5 cm, Inv. No. A 1087, © Rheinisches Bildarchiv

St. Margaret
Brussels, c. 1500/1525

 St. Cecilia, Cologne, 1525-1530, stained glass, 68.5 x 67 cm, Inv. No. M 706, © Rheinisches Bildarchiv

St. Cecilia
Cologne, 1525-1530

 St. John, Cologne, c. 1330, walnut, H. 80 cm, Inv. No. 1100, © Rheinisches Bildarchiv

St. John
Cologne, c. 1330

 St. John the Baptist, Master Tilman, Cologne, c. 1480-1485, oak, H. 75, Inv. No. A 200, © Rheinisches Bildarchiv

St. John the Baptist
Master Tilman, Cologne, c. 1480-1485

 Head of St. John the Baptist on a Platter, Westphalia (Münster?), c. 1450, oak, Ø 52 cm, Inv. No. A 147, © Rheinisches Bildarchiv

Head of St. John the Baptist on a Platter
Westphalia (Münster?), c. 1450

 St. Bartholomew, Lower Rhine, 1500-1510, oak, H. 119 cm, Inv. No. A 761, © Rheinisches Bildarchiv

St. Bartholomew
Lower Rhine, 1500-1510

 Reliquary Bust of St. Sebastian, Cologne, c. 1340/1350, walnut, polychrome, H. 24.5 cm, Inv. No. A 257, © Rheinisches Bildarchiv

Reliquary Bust of St. Sebastian
Cologne, c. 1340/1350

 St. Stephen, Cologne, c. 1280, stained glass, 64 x 57 cm, Inv. No. M 524, Museum Schnütgen (from the F.F. Wallraf collection) © Rheinisches Bildarchiv

St. Stephen
Cologne, c. 1280

 St. Vitus, Swabia, 1450-1500, lime, H. 51.1 cm, Inv. No. A 213, © Rheinisches Bildarchiv

St. Vitus
Swabia, 1450-1500

 St. George, Middle Rhine, 15th cent., oak, H. 79 cm, Inv. No. A 1000, © Rheinisches Bildarchiv

St. George
Middle Rhine, 15th cent.

 St. Dionysius, Cologne, c. 1320, walnut, H. 74 cm, Inv. No. A 894, © Rheinisches Bildarchiv

St. Dionysius
Cologne, c. 1320

 St. Jerome, Cologne, c. 1520, lime, H. 160 cm, Inv. No. A 201, © Rheinisches Bildarchiv

St. Jerome
Cologne, c. 1520

 St. Jerome in Penitence, Rhineland, 1550-1600, wood, H. 12.3 cm, Inv. No. A 220, © Rheinisches Bildarchiv

St. Jerome in Penitence
Rhineland, 1550-1600

 Scene from the Altenberg Cloister Cycle: St. Bernard Preaches in Germany on the Crusades and Heals the Sick, Cologne, c. 1520-1530, stained glass, 103 x 90 cm, Inv. No. M 568, © Rheinisches Bildarchiv

Scene from the Altenberg Cloister Cycle: St. Bernard Preaches in Germany on the Crusades and Heals the Sick
Cologne, c. 1520-1530

 St. Joseph, Düsseldorf, c. 1710, bronze, 65 x 20 x 23 cm, Inv. No. H 927, © Rheinisches Bildarchiv

St. Joseph
Düsseldorf, c. 1710