Matteo di Giovanni, Reliquary of the finger of Saint John the Baptist

Matteo di Giovanni
1416-1426 ca.
Original location
Cathedral, treasure
Copper, silver, gold, crystal, enamel
Embossing, chiselling, engraving, gilding, fusion, painting
Height: 106,5 cm; Width: 39 cm; Depth: 39 cm;
Copper, silver, gold, crystal, enamel

This reliquary, in silver, enamel and crystal, was long housed in the Cathedral. It contains two finger bones of St. John the Baptist, and is the work of several Tuscan goldsmith from the first half of the 15th century. 

The upper part is a crystal pyx, housed within a loggia structure in hexagonal plan, defined by corner columns in twisted “Solominic” form, and a summit spire. The support, in the form of an inverted spire, is ornamented in its sections with enamelled figures of saints. The shaft is hexagonal, interrupted by several nodes, adorned with enamelled figures and inscriptions. The star-shaped foot bears six small plaques with enamelled figures of the Virgin Enthroned and saints.

The relic of the Baptist's finger arrived at Santa Maria del Fiore between 1350 and 1375, as a gift from Giovanni Corsini to his brother Pietro, cardinal and bishop of Florence. Giovanni was ambassador to the Emperor John Cantacuzenus, in Constantinople, where he had obtained the relic from Anthony, archbishop of that city.

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Cappella delle Reliquie