Reliquary of Saint Erik
Silver-gilt reliquary dedicated to St Erik. Made in the 1570s under the direction of goldsmith Hans Rosenfeldt together with sculptor Willem Boy. Gilding by Gillius Coyet.
The reliquary is rectangular in shape. The structure is simple – an oak frame covered by richly decorated silver-gilt plates. The lid is shaped like a saddleback roof with a ridge turret. The reliquary stands on four ball feet which support a wide, profiled base. The latter is decorated with seven winged cherubim. The roof and sides are richly decorated with ornamentation and with carved and chased figures shaped like angels. The sides also have medallion portraits of the Evangelists Matthew and Luke. The lid also has angels and, among other things, medallion portraits of the Evangelists Mark and John.
This reliquary was made in the 1570s and has three medieval precursors. It was commissioned by King Johan III and his consort Katarina Jagellonica. The previous reliquary had been melted down by Johan III, partly in order to pay off the Älvsborg Ransom and to finance war against Russia. The medieval casket yielded 107 kg metal, of which 1.2 kg pure gold. At the time of melting the casket down, Johan III probably already intended replacing it with a new one.
The present one has a metal weight of 36.5 kg, which includes 34.16 kg silver, 0.64 kg pure gold and 1.6 kg copper. This was less metal than went into the medieval reliquary, but the production cost was still considerable. The new reliquary was mostly financed by Katarina Jagellonica.
Inside the casket is an oak chest containing the relics, namely 24 skeletal parts, including a human cranium which, research indicates, may very well be Erik’s.
The casket also contains a pair of medieval textiles and Erik’s funerary crown. This reliquary is one of the best-documented and best-known artefacts in Uppsala Cathedral.