The wonderfully ghoulish "Treasures of Heaven: Saints, relics and devotion in medieval Europe" in the British Museum Round Reading Room is a spaciously installed group of sometimes ravishingly beautiful Christian objects of devotion—sculptural metalwork, precious gems, enamels, paintings and carvings—and most of them conceal bits of rotted wood or decomposed flesh.
n his introductory catalog essay Arnold Angenendt makes explicit the assumption that led early Christians to venerate their dead co-religionists' "nails and hair, their teeth, and above all their skulls": "the dead are not actually dead." He notes: "The Early Christians remembered and preserved only Jesus's words and miracles"; relic worship marked a return to pagan practices. The missing link with this actual, gorgeous exhibition, however, is the concept of the effect of magic on the primitive mind.
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