What can we safely
say about the shrine of
In the Middle Ages, the Roman Catholic Church preserved
relics connected with the lives of Christ and his saints. The
relics were kept in reliquaries. Here are some examples.
This reliquary holds a
thorn from the crown of
thorns that Christ wore
on the cross.
Can you see the thorn
behind a crystal
How can you tell that
this relic mattered a lot
to the church?
This reliquary was also made to hold a thorn.
Why do you think it is on a chain?
What can you guess about the person who owned it?
This reliquary was possibly
made to hold a small piece of
the cross on which Christ was
How big do you think it is?
This reliquary contained fragments of the skull of St Eustace. He was
believed to be a Roman general who became a Christian and died for
his beliefs c.118 AD. What materials do you think have been used to
make this reliquary?
The most popular English saint in the Middle Ages was Archbishop
Thomas Becket. He became a saint after he was murdered in 1170 in
Canterbury Cathedral. This carving shows what happened.
Who can you see in the carving?
What is each person doing?
What clues are there that this happened in a church?
A priest who was an
Another Whose relics do you think were kept in this casket?
What are the visual clues?
from a cloud
Becket’s tomb at Canterbury became a shrine. Pilgrims
from all over Europe came to visit it. This souvenir badge
gives some idea what Becket’s shrine looked like.
framework of shrine covered in
golden railings jewels
Why do you think people went on pilgrimage to Canterbury?
Why do you think people bought pilgrim badges on their visit?
How sure are you that each of these objects is a souvenir
from Becket’s shrine?
Use what you have learned from this presentation to help you do
this task. For each statement below, decide whether you …
strongly agree / agree / disagree / strongly disagree
It is surprising that Becket became a saint
All pilgrims to Becket’s shrine were poor
The church helped people to remember many saints like
Becket was only famous as a saint in England
The medieval church was rich
To see a relic you had to visit a shrine
We will never really know what Becket’s shrine looked like
Find out more about the Medieval world:
Visit the main Museum website
Use Explore to look at some of our medieval objects