St. Catherine's Monastery

Casket with engraved figures. View item.

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The liturgical year with its cyclical daily routine is accentuated by feasts, especially the major feasts of Christmas and Pascha, of important saints, and in the case of monasteries, those of its founders. All of these feasts are celebrated in great splendor. The ecclesiastical vessels of precious metal emphasize the importance of these highlights of Christian worship, and imbue everyday life with a sense of singularity.

The holy relics of saints, apt reminders of their beneficial presence, are usually kept in opulent cases. The monasteries, being the major locations where such relics are gathered and kept, base their fame and grace on them, and weave around these holy items an intricate web of relations, within which the pilgrims, travelers, monks, rulers-donors, and craftsmen circulate.

The liturgical accessory items are dedicated to express gratitude, anticipation of the recovery of body and mind, recognition, and redemption in the time of the Last Judgment. They also seek to establish a sense of permanence, and thus serve to capture the changing interrelations and hierarchies of the world, as well as to mediate, in a certain fashion, between the two worlds, the earthly and the heavenly.

Lastly, ecclesiastical vessels are products of the material culture of their time, as well as the historical, social, and financial circumstances in which they were created, and as such, they serve to substantiate links with foreign lands, relations, influences, mentalities, and continuities. GOP

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