Pewter ampulla of St. Thomas Becket: 12th-13th century
© Museum of London
Full image caption
Pewter ampulla of St Thomas Becket. St. Thomas Becket is shown lying on a funeral bier, with two men standing at either end, one holding a book. Above are two angels, one carrying a cross and the other a sword. Ampullae are small containers used by pilgrims to collect holy water at places of pilgrimage. This ampulla from Canterbury was said to have held holy water mixed with a minute amount of the blood of St Thomas Becket. Even when diluted, the blood was believed to have miraculous powers. It was thought to cure virtually all diseases and in certain cases to have the power to bring the dead back to life. This ampulla bears the figure of St Thomas on one side. An inscription reads "OPTIMUS EGRORUM MEDICUS FIT TOMA BONORUM", "Thomas is the best doctor of the worthy sick". The reverse has a depiction of his body on a bier with two priests attending, one holding an open book and crosier. Above them are two angels, one with a sword and one with a cross.
1101 AD - 1300 AD