French, Pyx, 13th Century, Copper; gilding; champleve enamel; Height: 8.9 cm (3 1/2 inches), Gift of Mrs. Murray S. Danforth 30.011
This hinged, covered container (pyx) was designed to hold consecrated communion wafers. In the 13th century it would have been carried when administering the sacrament of Holy Communion to the sick, or used to store wafers that remained unconsumed at the conclusion of the Mass. The liturgical use of this vessel is indicated by the finial in the shape of a Latin cross on the lid, and by the repeated motif of red crosses inscribed in quatrefoils on the surface. This type of decoration was accomplished by incising a depression in the metal ground of the object, then filling it with powdered enamel, which was then fired to form a hard, brilliant pool of color.