The Macksey Journal


This paper argues that a 13th-century-Limoges reliquary casket at the Art Institute of Chicago, expresses the immaterial holy spirit of the relics within by its shape. Its shape suggests a “steeped-roof” architectonic model. Scholars have discussed with two possible interpretations of the morphology: it could be either a solid Roman sarcophagus used circa 4th-5th centuries or a portable Gothic church miniature in the 1200s; if the shape ultimately descended from the sarcophagus used for a saint’s burial. This hypothesis sheds light on a morphological metamorphosis while implying this a portable church model was derived from a giant antique sarcophagus. Other voices, however, claim the object as a Gothic church miniature in specific. Inspired by these speculations, this paper then proposes that this ambiguous architectonic form which dwelling a sophisticated iconographical manifestation of the sacred space; sustaining from a pagan soil to Christian pedigree among the course of ecclesiastical development from early to late Christendom. The subject is not new, but typically scholars written in English have analyzed the Limoges châsse reliquaries for their production histories. This paper rather reviews the iconography for Limoges’ cult artistry.