St Geneviève Reliquary, France


Transferred from the Wellcome Institute in 1985; 1985.52.909
This Roman Catholic reliquary would have been worn as a pendant. It contains what is said to be a saint’s relic – in this instance, a small fragment of bone mounted on a piece of textile. Below this is the saint’s name, ‘SE. GENEVIÈVE, VIERGE’ ('Saint Geneviève Virgin'). On the back there is an image of the Virgin Mary and Child along with the words, 'MARIE A ÉTÉ CONÇUE SANS PÉCHÉ' (‘Mary who was conceived without sin’).
Geneviève was born in the village of Nanterre near Paris in AD 422. She made a vow of chastity when she was just seven years old, after Saint Germain passed through her village and predicted her future sanctity. Following the death of her parents, Geneviève left her life as a country shepherdess and moved to the city.  
After a lifetime of austerity, prayer and good works, she eventually became the patron saint of Paris. She is believed to have performed many miracles for the city, both while she was alive and, through her relics, after her death. In 1129, for instance, a pestilence broke out in Paris killing thousands of people. The procession of Saint Geneviève's relics through the city is believed to have ended the epidemic. 

Artisans of Memory

Behind the scenes of an amulets project

This series of short films follows the progress and practices of those connected with the Small Blessings project as they unravel the stories surrounding these curious objects.

The full series of films may be viewed here.


Amulets Competition

The competition is now closed and a winner has been announced. Find out more here.

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