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Seal showing the Holy Blood, early 16th century
The figure on this copper alloy seal matrix holds a spherical object with a cross at the top. This represents the crystal vessel that contained what was believed to be the Holy Blood – a portion of the blood shed by Christ on the cross. The Holy Blood was presented to Hailes Abbey in 1270 and soon became the focus of pilgrimage. This 16th-century seal matrix was used by the abbey to stamp documents granting spiritual benefits to ordinary people and admitting them to the confraternity (or brotherhood) of Hailes. According to the beliefs of the Cistercian Order, this meant they would be eased through the pains of purgatory and gain the kingdom of heaven more quickly.
Visit the English Heritage website to learn more about Hailes Abbey.
Object on loan from the National Trust