Thomas Becket Head Reliquary Badge
The bust reliquary badge seen here was one of the many different types sold to pilgrims to the shrine of St Thomas Becket. St Thomas was murdered in 1170 by knights of Henry II after a dispute regarding royal control of the church in England. St Thomas Becket’s skull was kept in a lavishly decorated bust-shaped reliquary. The reliquary was displayed in the Corona (crown/cranium) chapel and was a highlight for pilgrims to see.
Having viewed the corona reliquary, a pilgrim might choose to purchase a badge depicting it as a souvenir. Pilgrims’ badges were a symbol of the relationship between the saint and the pilgrim who had undertaken the journey to the relic and were conventionally worn on the individual’s hat or bag.