Florentine goldsmith, Reliquary of a finger of the Baptist

Florentine goldsmith
Original location
Baptistery of Saint John, treasure
Silver, gold, glass
Casting, chiselling, gilding, embossing
Height: 66 cm; Width: 29,5 cm; Depth: 29,6 cm;
Silver, gold, glass

The reliquary in silver and gold, from the treasure of the Baptistery, contains the relic of a finger of St. John the Baptist. This is the work of a Florentine goldsmith but it consists of different parts, originating in different eras. The reliquary takes the form of a small temple, supported by a multi-lobed mixtilinear base, and a shaft with an aedicule knot. Above, the cylindrical glass unites with a chalice molded in silver, with lateral buttresses and a dome, on which stands a full-round statuette depicting St. John the Baptist.

According to documentary sources, the relic of the finger bone of St. John arrived in Florence in 1392 thanks to a Florentine nobleman, a certain Pepo di Arnoldo “di messer Lapo Ruspi”, who received it from a soldier of the Emperor of Constantinople. On the basis of archival information, some elements of the upper part of the reliquary are attributed to the goldsmith Matteo di Lorenzo, who would have made them in 1397, others are stylistically datable to the second half of the 15th century.

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Cappella delle Reliquie