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Home     Medieval pewter pilgrim badge of Cornelius of Ninove
Medieval pewter pilgrim badge of Cornelius of Ninove

Medieval pewter pilgrim badge of Cornelius of Ninove



Medieval pewter pilgrim badge of Cornelius of Ninove

Period: 1450-1500

Religious pewter badge of Saint Cornelius of Ninove. He is standing upright with a small pilgrim at his feet, wearing the papal tiara on his head, crossed staff in one hand and a horn in the other.

Condition: restored
Size: 4,5 x 9 cm

Ref: H.J.E. van Beuningen, 'Heilig en Profaan, 1000 laat-Middeleeuwse insignes', p. 151, afb. 152-154.

Article code: 14-3602

Available: 0


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Cornelius of Ninove was venerated as the patron saint of cattle. On pilgrim badges he is usually shown with a horn (Latin 'cornu'). Saint Cornelius was the 21st holy pope (251-253 AD). His shrine could be visited at the Flemish abbey of Ninove. Together with Saint Adrian, he was one of the most popular saints in Flanders and Zeeland.



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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