St Blandine Pendant, France

Transferred from the Wellcome Institute in 1985; 1985.52.329
One side of this heart-shaped copper pendant depicts the visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary with her cousin Elizabeth when they were both pregnant, as recorded in the Gospel of Luke. The other side depicts Saint Blandine holding a feather quill. The image is surrounded by the inscriptions ‘JE SUIS SAINTE’ (‘I am holy’) and ‘CHRETIENNE BLANDINE’ (‘Christian Blandine’).
Blandine was a slave girl from Lyon in France. She became a Christian martyr during the reign of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (AD 121–180) and is one of a number of 2nd-century martyrs from the region. Although the Roman Empire was generally tolerant of other religions, belief in Christianity was considered to be superstitious and even sinful. Many early Christians were accused of incest and cannibalism (possibly arising from a confusion about the meaning of ‘eating Christ’s flesh’), and were tortured and killed for their beliefs.
Her death was recounted in a letter written by the Christian community of Lyon, which was recorded by the 4th century Roman historian Eusebius in his Historia Ecclesiastica. According to the letter, Blandine was tortured but refused to renounce her faith. She was then taken to the amphitheatre in Lyon where she was tied to a stake and left to the lions, but the animals would not touch her. Finally, she was enclosed in a net and thrown before a bull that tossed and killed her. Her body was burned and her ashes were scattered in the Rhone. Saint Blandine is the patron of young girls and her feast day is 2 June.

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