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St Thomas Becket ampulla
This ampulla (vessel) was probably sold to a pilgrim visiting the shrine of St Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. It held water believed to contain the diluted blood that the saint shed at his martyrdom. Each side shows a scene pertaining to the saint; his martyrdom at the hands of four of King Henry II’s knights, another close-up of his martyrdom, two bishops flanking a crowned and sceptred king, and Becket enthroned, wearing episcopal garb and raising his hand in a sign of blessing. Fleur de lys decorate the slanted panels either side of the vessel’s neck, which is geometrically patterned, and equal armed crosses ornament the angles of the gabled ends of the object. Two suspensory loops either side of the neck would have allowed the owner to suspend it from a cord and wear it as a sign of their special relationship with the saint.
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