Reliquary of the Eleven Thousand Virgins

One of the most outstanding items of the Chapel of Christ is a magnificent reliquary that was a gift from Claudia de Lira, widow of Francisco de Galarreta, in 1672. Its formal features must tie it in to Flemish furniture from the early half of the 17th century. It is rectangular in shape in the form of a showcase flanked by two alettes and with ebonised oak wood on the sides. The front is decorated with gilt-brass-plated metal sheets nailed to the wood. The relics are displayed in nineteen windows of various sizes, glazed and framed by embossed and chiselled silver plaques with vegetal decorations.

The reliquary is traditionally referred to as that of the Eleven Thousand Virgins, although it was actually dedicated to the Lignum Crucis (wood of the cross). This precious relic occupied the centre of this item of furniture and was surrounded by a retinue of winged silver angels, which can still be seen today. It is ringed by eighteen relics with four skulls of the Eleven Thousand Virgins and the remains of other saints.


Ficha técnica

  • Author: Anonymous
  • Date: c. 1672
  • Technique: Ebonised oak, gilded brass, embossed and engraved silver
  • Measurements: 81 x 158,6 x 38 cm
  • Place: Saint Mary’s Cathedral (Vitoria-Gasteiz)

Image gallery


AZCÁRATE RISTORI, José M.ª de. “Catedral de Santa María (catedral Vieja)”. En: PORTILLA VITORIA, Micaela J. et al. Catálogo Monumental Diócesis de Vitoria: Ciudad de Vitoria. Vitoria-Gasteiz: Obra Cultural de la Caja de Ahorros Municipal, tomo III, 1968, p. 111.

BARTOLOMÉ GARCÍA, Fernando R. “Fundación y patronato de los Alday y Galarreta. Las capillas de San Prudencio y Santo Cristo en la catedral de Santa María de Vitoria-Gasteiz”. Ars Bilduma, n.º 0, 2010, pp. 36-37.