Special Presentation Textile Treasures from Sainte-Foy Abbey in Conques Exhibition Closed

Sainte-Foy Abbey in Conques has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1998 and counts among the most important pilgrimage sites in France. Even in the Middle Ages, it attracted thousands of pilgrims wishing to be close to the relics of Saint Faith – sainte Foy in French – every year. The mortal remains of saints were believed to have special powers in those days. As a church’s most treasured possession, they were protected and adorned by being wrapped in fine silks. Thanks to the cult of relics, several early medieval textiles have been preserved in the church treasury of Conques. In 2019 these were entrusted to the Abegg-Stiftung for conservation/restoration. Press Release

Relic wrapping of Saint Faith

This magnificent silk served as a wrapping for the skull of Saint Faith. The purple-coloured fabric is patterned with oval medallions containing birds and stylized flowers in alternating rows. The motifs, together with the colour pur-ple, are characteristic of Byzantine silk-weaving. | Byzantium, 10th century, woven silk (samite), Conques, Trésor de l’abbatiale Sainte-Foy, inv. no. 4a

Fragment of a silk with lion

The irregular octagon points to the use of this fragment as a relic wrapping. The relic was placed on a rectangular or square piece of cloth fabric and the four corners then pulled up and tied together to form a bundle. Once tied, the protruding corners were sheared off. | Eastern Persia (?), 9th–10th century, woven silk (samite), Conques, Trésor de l’abbatiale Sainte-Foy, inv. no. 10


This intricate work shows two rampant lions flanking a Tree of Life. While the geometric style is characteristic of works of art from regions in the Islamic sphere of influence, the two lions bear a strong resemblance to those in the Kingdom of Léon’s coat of arms. There are thus several pointers to Spain as the place of origin, large parts of which were ruled by Muslim dynasties from the 8th century until 1492. | Spain (?), 15th century (?), cotton, silk, metal threads, Conques, Trésor de l’abbatiale Sainte-Foy, inv. no. 11