The shrine of St Maurus

The shrine of St Maurus is the especial gold relic in The Czech Republic.
This relic is comparable to Czech regalia, but the shrine of St Maurus is older and the works of craftsmen there are in the larger dimension.

The shrine of St Maurus is among the so-called house-like or tomb-like shrines, whereas the other ones continue serving to their original liturgical (ecclesiastical) purposes, the shrine of St Maurus found itself out of the sphere of ecclesiastical competence, as the only one item of its class.The shrine of St Maurus had an interesting fate. In the 1985 was the shrine discovered underthe boarded floor of the Gothic castle´s chapel of the Virgin of Mary, it was one of the biggestdiscoveries of the 20th century in the Czechoslovakia.From 1991 to 2002 worked on its preservation. The restoring of the shrine of St Maurus is unique in the world. The other house-like shrines haven´t yet been renovated as larg extent as the shrine of St Maurus.

The shrine of St Maurus description

- the shrine of St Maurus is among the so-called house-like or tomb-like shrines. Inside the shrine there are skeletal remains of St John the Baptist, St Maurus and St Timothy. The shrine is oblong-shape, its dimensions are 140 x 42 cm, h 65 cm. The original oak case was substituted by new walnut case. Decoration consists of twelve reliefs, fourteen vermeil statuettes, precious stones, ancient gems, filigrees, and enamels.  

Short history

- the shrine of St Maurus was made for Benedictine abbey at Florennes (in what is now Belgium). This abbey acquired the remains of St. John the Baptist and later St Maurus too as a present from Reims. The shrine was made to keep these remains.

- in the 18th century, after the French Revolution was the monastery in Florennes abolished. According to archival records, the shrine was laid aside to one of the parish church´s vestries among old furnishings. It was there where the considerable damaged shrine was discovered by Duke Alfred de Beaufort-Spontin ( the owner of domain Bečov) . In 1838 he offered the local ecclesiastical authority at Florennes to buy the shrine. The Duke Beaufort had the shrine repaired and lent the relic to the Exhibition in Brussels. In 1888 the Beauforts transferred the shrine to their castel residence at Bečov nad Teplou.

- towards the end of the Second World War, the members of the Beaufort aristocratic family had to leave Czechoslovakia due to their loyalty to Germany´s Fascist authorities. Probably just before fleeing the country, they hid the shrine under the floor of the castle´s Gothic chapel. And here the memory of St Maurus disappears for 40 years...

- the new history of the shrine of St Maurus started in June 1984. At that time, a certain U.S. businessman called on the Czechoslovak consulate in Vienna and wanted to buy an unspecified relic stashed in the Czechoslovak.  The investigators participated in all proceedings with the businessman, trying to deduce from his information and hints what he could be interested in.

- the criminal policemen started searching Bečov Castle on 4 November 1985. The next day, 5 November 1985, they succeeded in finding the shrine of St Maurus under the boarded floor of the Gothic castle´s chapel of the Virgin Mary.

- after finding the shrine was lent to the Prague-based Museum of Applied Arts and was drew up the first expertise. The shrine is the relic of the incalculable value and its export didn´t come on force.

- condition of the shrine after the storage in the damp underground, requested a professional restoring.The restoration was allowed to start as late as 1991, after lengthy proceedings concerning the property rights related to the shrine.

- the shrine was restoring by civil office of monument preservation. The work procedures were consulting with restoring staff from German Aachen. The restoring staff had to master the forgotten medieval goldsmith´s trade and to evolve a new restoring processes.

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