A reliquary is a container for relics. These may be the physical remains of saints, such as bones, pieces of clothing, or some object associated with saints or other religious figures.
Let's take a look inside some of the reliquaries around the world.
Paolo Galluzzi, director of the Museum of the History of Science, said three fingers, a vertebra and a tooth were removed by admirers from the astronomer's body in 1737. Fans took their opportunity to steal body parts from the scientist 95 years after his death, when his corpse was being moved from a storage place to a monumental tomb, opposite the tomb of Michelangelo, in Santa Croce Basilica in Florence.
One of the fingers was recovered soon after, and is now part of the museum's collection, and the vertebra has been kept at the University of Padua, where Galileo had taught for years, according to the museum. But the tooth and two of the fingers - the thumb and middle finger - from the scientist's right hand, were kept by one of the admirers, an Italian marquis, and later kept in a container which was passed on from generation to generation in the same family, Mr Galluzzi said.
"But with time, the generations lost knowledge of what was actually inside the container," and the family sold it, he said. By 1905, all traces of the relics had disappeared, "leading scholars to hypothesise that these singular specimens had been definitely lost," the museum said in a statement.
But the container recently turned up at auction and was purchased by a private collector.
The buyer eventually contacted Mr Galluzzi and other Florence culture officials, who used historical documents, as well as documentation from the family which had long owned it, to conclude they were Galileo's fingers and tooth, the museum director said.
The relics were inside an 18th-century blown-glass vase, which in turn was inside a wooden case topped with a wooden bust of Galileo, the museum said. Galileo, who died in 1642, was condemned by the Vatican for saying the Earth revolved around the Sun. Church teaching at the time held that the Earth was the centre of the universe. In the early 1990s, Pope John Paul II rehabilitated him, saying the church had erred.
Mummified Hand Relic
Écrin du cœur d’Anne de Bretagne
Blois (?), 1514
Or rehaussé d’émail.
H.15 cm ; l. 12,5 cm.
Auteur anonyme, 1514
Nantes, Musée départemental Dobrée
Relic of Saint Anthony
Made in the early 1400s for Duc du Berri, it supposedly holds a thorn from the Jesus' crown of thorns.
The Sponge of Christ