Church treasure

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Reliquary from the abandoned altars of the East Choir in Essen Minster, dating from 1054
Burgundian fibulae in the Essen treasury. The Essen treasure contains sixteen of these rare pieces of jewelry from the 14th century.

A church treasure (German: Kirchenschatz) is the collection of historical art treasures belonging to a church, usually a monastery (monastery treasure), abbey, cathedral. Such "treasure" is usually held and displayed in the church's treasury or in a diocesan museum. Historically the highlight of church treasures was often a collection of reliquaries.

As a result of gifts and the desire to acquire sacred artifacts, many churches over the centuries gathered valuable and historic collections of altar plate, illuminated manuscripts of liturgical or religious books, as well as vestments, and other works of art or items of historical interest. Despite iconoclasm, secularism, looting, fire, the enforced sale of treasure in times of financial difficulty, theft and other losses, much of this treasure has survived or has even been repurchased. Many large churches have been displaying their riches to visitors in some form for centuries.

Examples and museums of important church and cathedral treasures[edit]


Czech Republic:


  • Most cathedrals have treasuries, though these generally lack the medieval metalwork of continental treasuries, which did not survive the Reformation.


- also the cathedrals of Bautzen, Eibingen, Merseburg, Minden, Naumburg etc






  • Basle Münster Treasure

See also[edit]


  • Lucas Burkart: Das Blut der Märtyrer. Genese, Bedeutung und Funktion mittelalterlicher Schätze. Böhlau, Cologne, 2009, ISBN 978-3-412-20104-3