What is this?

By Crispin Paine

A short while ago I had an email from someone in the US asking how she could find out what this is. Do you know?

Covered in leather to look like a book, it opens out into a sort of throne.

Suggestions so far are a stand for a monstrance used in Benediction, a container for a large wax Agnus Dei sacramental, a stand for a gospel book or reliquary used in procession, or a holder for a portable altar. But no one yet seems ever to have seen one.

I’m especially excited by the portable altar suggestion, because a few years ago I had an introduction to portable altars in the Christian tradition published in Objects in Motion: The Circulation of Religion and Sacred Objects in the Late Antique and Byzantine World, edited by Hallie Meredith and published by Archeopress in their British Archaeological Reports International Series.

It is reproduced here by their permission. (If anyone is interested in purchasing a copy they will be eligible for a 20% discount if they sign up to join BAR Publishing’s free membership scheme, which will also register their interest to receive notifications of new publications from BAR. Anyone can sign up at this link: http://www.barpublishing.com/index.php?dispatch=newsletter.subscribe

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