by forrest fenn

These vignettes from Forrest’s collection are only to share. To see 294 additional pieces  please visit



Reliquary – a container wherein sacred relics are kept.

Although I am not a Catholic I enjoy studying their colorful history and objects of veneration.


Carved on the face of this eight-inch wooden reliquary cross are the Instruments of the Passion; tools used in Christ’s Crucifixion.

When the early Spanish explorers set out to conquer the new world many carried small devotional items to comfort them on their long and perilous journey. The most common articles were reliquaries, some of which held a splinter from The Cross, or a small bone fragment from a saint. But mostly not. More likely they contained objects associated with lesser religious figures or favored items of piety.


The horizontal banner slides out to reveal two relics wrapped in linen.


The vertical banner will then slip out to expose a delicately arranged assemblage of religious chattels that are resting on a bouquet of tiny blue ceramic flowers. The white wax seal near the top represents the Lamb of God, a symbol for Christ.


In the center is a small carved stone likeness of The Virgin Mary with the Christ Child. Daintily curled gold and silver wires hold the effects safely in place and secure.


On the reverse is the crucifixion of Christ, except Christ has gone. He just isn’t there anymore. On the head of the cross are the traditional letters INRI, and at the foot, a skull and crossed bones that signify Skull Hill, the place where the Lord was crucified, and where Adam was buried.

Oral history of the family from whom I acquired this cross, forty-years ago, tells that it rode into the new world in the pocket of Diego de Vargas who arrived in 1692, and became the Spanish Governor of the New Spain territory of Santa Fe de Nuevo Mexico.


What relics hide beneath the six linen shrouds in this special cross reliquary? Who carved it with loving fingers and filled its stomach with items of religious reverence?

The answers to these questions lay deep within the forgotten history of lives that have disappeared from our view, and from an olden era that can no longer speak. But would that it could.