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Box of religious items dug-up with a metal detector

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Religious Jewelry143 of 164Very old brass crossAntique Enamel Religious Necklace
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    Posted 9 years ago

    (310 items)

    Back in 1972 on one of my many metal detecting excursions I got a strong hit on my detector. What I dug up was a metal box containing the items you see in the accompanying photographs. It was buried about 8 inches in the ground. The larger cross you see in the middle is extremely interesting to me and I do not know the significance of it, not being a religious historian. As you can see from the photograph, the cross unscrews from the bottom and there is a compartment inside. In that compartment is a small gold looking object and a piece of wood. The other crosses are made of what appears to be brass and what looks like a shell material. None of the items were attached to each other in the box. I think the string of beads is part of a very old Rosary, but again, I am not sure. Any help with identifying the significance of the large cross will be greatly appreciated. It has been a mystery to me for many years. I have always wondered why somebody would bury something like this.
    Thank you,

    Unsolved Mystery

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    1. Manikin Manikin, 9 years ago
      Oh I love these ! Packrat :-) Glad they were rescued :-) Parts looks like a rosary but can you photo the large cross with wood in it alone so I can see it better ? Does it have a hollow area when you unscrew it ?
    2. packrat-place packrat-place, 9 years ago
      Thank you Manikin & ThriftyGypsy
      Can you see the second photo? The second photo of the cross bt itself is about as large as I can get it right now. The entire cross is hollow lined with some kind of red cloth material. The gold thing it to the left and the piece of wood is in the middle. I have always thought there was something special about this, and I have had it displayed in my house since 1972 and nobody seems to know much about it.I will try and get a closer photo of the cross by itself.
    3. Esther110 Esther110, 9 years ago
      Lovely find.

      The splinter can be from anything ranging from crosses in the prayer rooms or utensils used by any of the hundreds of saints, to a piee of wood from the Holy Land. That by itself is very hard to find out.

      What is in the gold thingy? Is it cloth, bone...??? I would take it to a catholic priest. If he doesn't know he might be able to point you in the right direction. If you tell him where you found it, he probably can find out what temple was/is near there.

      There has to be a great story behind this. Why someone would bury this baffles me.

      I have been doing some research and found these are fairly common, and would hold what I mentioned above. Without knowing exactly who they come from it is nearly impossible to say what the relics really are.
    4. Esther110 Esther110, 9 years ago
      I see in the first pic parts of four rosaries. The one with the Virgin Mary center looks like it would have been made with pressed rose petal beads (I have on like that somewhere). These probably turned to dust a long time ago...
    5. packrat-place packrat-place, 9 years ago
      Thank you very much for the info. I will keep working on it. The gold thing is solid, it appears to be gold, no tarnish, etc. There is another one on the other side under the cross, however, it is not exactly the same.
    6. Crystalrose, 9 years ago
      I think they call these reliquary crosses. They hold the relics of Saints. Very interesting.
    7. packrat-place packrat-place, 9 years ago
      Thank you very much for the information.
      I still wonder why these would be buried.
    8. packrat-place packrat-place, 9 years ago
      thank you Ltea
    9. packrat-place packrat-place, 9 years ago
      thank you musikchoo
    10. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 8 years ago
      Hi, packrat-place! You have some amazing articles posted on CW. I am struck by items you have included in this posting, and by the comments they have garnered. Great posting! Since no one has yet addressed the practice of burying blessed rosaries and medals, I make the following comments.

      Rosaries are considered 'sacramentals'. If you find a rosary that a Catholic has actually used as a prayer aid, it will probably have been blessed. The protocol for 'retiring' or discarding old such blessed items is to bury them or to burn them. When our rosaries break beyond repair, we bury or burn them. Once, I burned a number of items from my grandmother's estate - no shovel to be found. Since it was challenging governing the fire, I have never tried this method again! When a beloved Scottish Terrier died, I wrapped him in a sheet, and included therein a prayer I had written out for him, a blessed medal with an image of the face of the crucified Christ, and some fresh flowers. My brother buried him deep in the ground, and his skeletal remains will long perdure. If he is ever disinterred by a stranger, the purpose of the blessed medal could be discerned by the context of skeletal remains. I meant to impart a blessing upon his remains by including the blessed medal. (The parish Priest later blessed his grave.) Now, I don’t think you’ve uncovered a grave!, but the example will help indicate the value that is placed upon certain religious items. I see from your photo that you have the remains of at least three damaged rosaries. Now, you also have some crosses that would be consistent with rosary crosses. The small mother of pearl cross I can’t see well enough to see if it once might have had a crucified corpus form upon its face. If it has holes in it consistent with a mounted corpus, it could also be a rosary cross. Further, you have a triangular medal on links and a small round medal on links, both of which are proper to a rosary. Some persons attach blessed religious medals to rosaries. The other round and oval medals could have been attached to one or more of the rosaries. However, they might not have been attached to any of the rosaries. The cross that opens and harbors a/some religious relic/s features both a pin and a hanging loop. I can’t say whether or not it would have been attached to one of the rosaries. All the crosses in your posting are very fine. The relic cross is an exceptional find. I am surprised that someone should have buried it. It doesn’t look damaged to me; indeed, it appears to be in exceptional condition, though of course, one really cannot state that it has not been damaged without examining it in person. I wonder if these items were buried when their owner died. If I were dying and had blessed religious articles that I thought would not be afforded due deference by my heirs, I would ask that they be buried or burned, if I couldn’t do so myself. Catholics take the disposal of blessed items seriously. Some elderly or frail person might be unable to dispose of them properly himself, and might put them aside with the intention of having someone else later dispose of them properly. Back to my grandmother’s estate: for convenience, while working through her possessions, I gathered a number of damaged blessed articles in a large metal coffee can, with the intention that my brother should later burn or bury the contents. He did not undertake their disposal for some days, and in the interim, the housekeeper, thinking that they were trash, threw them out with the garbage. My brother and I looked at each other in shock. Yes, we take the obligation to bury or burn seriously. If I were dying and feeble, and my only heir were someone who wouldn’t accord my blessed articles the deference I thought their due, I’d charge him with burying those blessed religious articles. The presence of the relic cross in your grouping leads me to wonder if that is what happened, as it does not appear damaged.

      This perhaps sounds rather arcane to non-Catholic, so I provide the following links.

      What is a sacramental and how do they differ from a sacrament?

      Church teaching:

      Proper disposal of a sacramental:

      The Rosary:


    11. packrat-place packrat-place, 8 years ago
      Thank you very much miKKoChristmas11 for the great info!! I will definately check it out.
      Thank you very much ThriftyGypsy & mrmajestic1 for visiting
    12. packrat-place packrat-place, 8 years ago
      Thank you very much Hunter
    13. packrat-place packrat-place, 8 years ago
      Thank you very much bratjdd for stopping by
    14. flowerrose, 8 years ago
      These are a magnificent find.
      As miKKo mentioned with regards to the Catholic Faith you will also find something similar in the Buddhist Faith. They have blessed 'pills' - ground from herbs, earth materials, spit of lama etc which are buried in the earth to act as pacifying influences on the elements.

      I know when the Lamas rosaries come apart they often 'gift' a blessed bead of the rosary to one of their followers/students as a link/connection to that Lama and the lamas lineage.

      I know that Crosses are also used by some in a similar way - when the earth is leaking a partifular energy and a cross is placed in the earth to 'seal' the energy.

      I would say as miKKo mentioned that all the items you have - have been blessed at some point.
    15. walksoftly walksoftly, 8 years ago
      Great find, did the metal box have any identifying features as to age.

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