A Rare, Early Medieval St Menas Pilgrim Flask 6Th - 7Th Century Found In Egypt, VERY EARLY CHRISTIAN PILGRIMAGE ANTIQUITY

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Seller: nordovicum (725) 100%, Location: DORSET, Ships to: Worldwide, Item: 283263307496 A RARE, EARLY MEDIEVAL 'ST MENAS' PILGRIM FLASK, 6TH - 7TH CENTURY. THIS VERY EARLY CHRISTIAN PILGRIMAGE ANTIQUITY WAS DISCOVERED IN EGYPT DURING THE 19TH CENTURY AND COMES FROM AN OLD VICTORIAN COLLECTION, COMPLETE EXAMPLES SUCH AS THIS ARE VERY, VERY SELDOM SEEN. IT RETAINS ITS ORIGINAL COLLECTION LABEL WITH BEAUTIFUL HANDWRITTEN INK INSCRIPTION IN THE TYPICAL STYLE OF THE PERIOD, INTERESTINGLY, ALTHOUGH SOMEWHAT INCORRECTLY IDENTIFYING IT AS A LACRYMATORY FLASK. IT READS, 'LACRIMATI FROM THEBES IN WHICH THE FRIENDS COLLECTED THEIR TEARS AND DEPOSITED IT WITH THE DECEASED', IT IS FURTHER WRITTEN ON THE LABELS REVERSE, 'THOU SHALT COLLECT MY TEARS IN TO THY BOTTLE', (WHICH I BELIEVE IS FROM A PSALM IN THE BIBLE). I IMAGINE THIS RATHER ROMANTIC NOTION WAS PARTICULARLY APPEALING TO THE SENTIMENTS OF THE 19TH CENTURY VISITORS, WHO WHILE ENJOYING THEIR 'GRAND TOUR', COLLECTED WONDERFUL SOUVENIRS ALONG THE WAY. THE BELIEVED HISTORY OF THE FASK IS HIGHLY LIKELY TO HAVE BEEN PASSED ON BY WAY OF IMAGINATIVE SALESMANSHIP BY THE LOCAL VENDOR! THE REAL HISTORY OF THIS FLASK IS ACTUALLY FAR MORE INTERESTING AND IT IS VERY UNUSUAL TO BE ABLE TO LINK SOMETHING OF SUCH ANTIQUITY TO A SPECIFIC STORY, PLACE AND PERSON. THE IMAGERY DEPICTED ON THE FLASK IS THE FIGURE OF ST MENAS, A YOUNG MAN WHO WAS KILLED FOR HIS CHRISTIAN BELIEFS, ARMS OUTSTRETCHED WITH CROSSES ABOVE AND TWO CAMELS BENEATH, REPRESENTING THOSE WHICH CARRIED HIS BODY THROUGH THE EGYPTIAN DESERT BEFORE DECIDING HIS FINAL RESTING PLACE BY MYSTERIOUSLY STOPPING, REFUSING TO GO ANY FURTHER. VERY EARLY CHRISTIAN PILGRIMS FROM AROUND THE WORLD MADE THE LONG, ARDUOUS AND DANGEROUS JOURNEY TO VISIT THIS SITE WHERE ST MENAS WAS INTERRED, TO WORSHIP AT HIS GRAVE, FLASKS SUCH AS THIS WERE FILLED WITH OIL, WATER OR DIRT FROM THE SHRINE BY THE PILGRIM AND RETURNING HOME WITH HIM, WERE THEN REPUTED TO HAVE SPECIAL HEALING AND PROTECTIVE POWERS. THE FLASK MEASURES APPROXIMATELY 4 1/8 INCHES HIGH, 2 1/4 INCHES ACROSS AT THE WIDEST POINT, FROM AN OLD ENGLISH COLLECTION. PLEASE SEE MY OTHER AUCTIONS FOR MORE QUALITY PIECES CURRENTLY AVAILABLE FROM MY LIFELONG COLLECTION.

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