The restoration of the reliquary of Saint Leocadia

Today, December 9, we celebrate the feast of St. Leocadia of Toledo. The veneration of Saint Leocadia is one of the oldest in our country. Her death after refusing to apostatize occurred around the year 305 in Toledo. Her relics remained there until, during the Islamic domination, they were moved in the 8th century and finally deposited in the 12th century in an abbey in Flanders. King Philip II ordered their return to Toledo in 1587, but since the beginning of the 16th century a relic of Saint Eulalia was already resting in the cathedral of Toledo.

It had been donated by Queen Joan and her consort, Philip "the Fair", and was contained in a curious object. It is a nao-relic: a container in the shape of a ship in whose shaft, with glass walls, a bone of Saint Leocadia is preserved. In its hull are preserved relics of other saints, still wrapped in ancient fabrics. The shape of the reliquary, which is surprising to us today, was relatively common, but not as a reliquary, but on the table of kings. It was an object to contain spices. This nao, which had belonged to the kings, was transformed to become a reliquary.

From the technical point of view, it is a work of exceptional quality, especially for its enamels. They are examples of a technique known as paillonagewhich consists of decorating the enamel with tiny gold studs of various shapes, placed one at a time and distributed in a repetitive pattern.

During the past months, our Conservation-Restoration department has had the satisfaction of intervening in this delicate work. After carrying out the pertinent studies and analyses, we have proceeded to its disassembly, cleaning, elimination of the non-historical elements that damaged it, structural reinforcement, fixing of the enamels, reintegration, protection and, finally, assembly.


PÉREZ GRANDE, Margarita: The Primate Cathedral of Toledo. Eighteen centuries of historyPromecal Publicaciones, Burgos 2010, pp. 362-381.

PÉREZ GRANDE, Margarita: Exhibition catalog A imagen y semejanza. 1700 years of sanctity in the Archdiocese of Toledo, Archbishop's Palace, Toledo 2004.

PÉREZ GRANDE, Margarita: Catalog of the exhibition Wonders of Medieval Spain. Sacred treasure and monarchyColegiata de San Isidoro de León, León 2000.

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Serving the Church with sacred art since 1891

Serving the Church with sacred art since 1891

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28806, Alcalá de Henares,
Madrid. Spain
(+34) 91 802 36 55

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