Reflections on the British Museum exhibition ‘Treasures of Heaven’

Stonyhurst Mary Queen of Scots reliquary (Copyright Stonyhurst College)

Seeing is believing! Calvinism on display at the British Museum

simon.ditchfield@york.ac.uk

Until 9 October 2011 visitors to London have the opportunity to view what is probably the richest display of objects – pound for pound in gold and jewels alone – seen at the Museum since the Tutankhamun exhibition there of 1972.  The selection of what must be a little under 150 objects (of which 139 are discussed in the scholarly catalogue), which are laid out tastefully, dare I say reverentially, in the former round reading room of the old British Library, ranges chronologically from the mid-fourth century CE (a column sarcophagus with Christ and the Apostles excavated from near the Vatican) to the sixteenth (a crystal vial containing a relic of the Holy Thorn given to Mary Queen of Scots by her father-in-law, Henry II of France entwined with a string of pearls which were believed to belong to her and possibly worn at her execution). Continue reading