Yesterday we visited Saint David’s altar stone, and concluded that ‘the emotional and spiritual resonances of this rather non-descript stone cannot be denied’. Today’s relics are more intimate – or were when they were created – but though we know quite a lot about the 6th Century Bishop David, despite having no portrait of him, we can see these early photographs on-line, but often we do not know anything about them, not even their names. They are made available by the John Rylands Library at the University of Manchester, which holds them. Here is a link to their post by Angie, who says: Regardless of time and technology, a portrait of the self or other transcends time and connects us to human emotions.
The owners of these lockets valued their relationship with the sitters and the sitters must have loved the owners to endure sitting still for the quarter hour this process demanded.
They were happy to own these relics, perhaps kissing the before clipping them around their neck, but like George Borrow, did they deplore the Catholic attitude to saints’ relics?
We love flesh and blood family and friends, those with us here and now, those separated by time and space. It is natural to celebrate them with reminders, stones, bones, photographs or locks of hair.