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Home     Medieval pewter pilgrim badge 'Cunera of Rhenen'
Medieval pewter pilgrim badge 'Cunera of Rhenen'

Medieval pewter pilgrim badge 'Cunera of Rhenen'



Medieval pewter pilgrim badge 'Cunera of Rhenen'

Period: 1450-1500

Religious pewter badge, depicting the highly venerated Saint Cunera standing upright with her hands folded in prayer while she is being strangled with her scarf. The fabric is wrapped around her neck, while Queen Aldegonda is holding one end, and a servant the other. The women are standing in a Gothic archway, SUN CUNERA is inscribed at the bottom.

Condition: restored
Size: 3,5 x 6 cm

Ref: H.J.E. van Beuningen, 'Heilig en Profaan, 1000 laat-Middeleeuwse insignes', p. 154, afb. 164

Article code: 14-3603

Available: 0


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In 337, Cunera (Kunera) accompanied Saint Ursula of Cologne and ten thousand virgins to visit Rome. When they were attacked by the Huns, she was saved by the Frisian King Radbod (Radboud). While staying at his court In Rhenen, she was strangled with her own scarf by his jealous wife Aldegonde and a servant. The cloth used to strangle her played an important role at the church of Rhenen, and was believed to be a cure for throat diseases.



During the Middle Ages it was customary for pilgrims to bring back proof of their pilgrimage. As proof of their voyage to a particular shrine they returned with a badge, usually made of lead or pewter.
Most pilgrim badges show some figure or device, identifying it with the name or place of pilgrimage. Common shrines were at Santiago de Compostella (Spain), Canterbury (England), Cologne and Aachen (Germany) and of course Rome and Jerusalem.

Medieval pewter pilgrim badge from Santiago de Compostella (scallop)


A pewter badge from Santiago de Compostella with its 'trademark scallop'

A well known image from a pilgrim with a hat full of pilgrim badges
A well known image from a pilgrim with his hat full of pilgrim badges
When pilgrims returned, they proudly wore these badges fastened to their hat or cape. Examples can still be seen in some Medieval stained glass windows, drawings or paintings.
As well as being 'proof' of having made a pilgrimage (early souvenir), they also attached special value to the badge. Pilgrims believed that a badge that had touched a certain relic would offer protection against danger or sickness, or offer assistance that was needed (conception, childbirth, etc). The reason for a pilgrimage could vary from a punishment or doing penance to a special thanks or praying for help from a Saint.


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