Wednesday, 26 February 2014

What A Find - a Heart Shrine!

I was walking around Chirk recently and had cause to go into the parish church. Amongst other things I discovered my first "Heart Shrine". What remains is a sort of gravestone which was found in the vicarage garden 100 years ago, and is now propped up at the back of the church. It shows a woman holding a heart and who appears to be standing on top of another body.

This stone is near the font.
Heart shrines were popular in the 13th Century when many members of the aristocracy went on military campaigns in Europe and to the Holy Land on crusade and were killed. It was impractical to embalm the whole body. So, often the heart would be taken out, embalmed, put in a casket and be returned home to be buried with a small gravestone, with perhaps a tomb effigy. The most famous of these was that of Robert the Bruce, whose heart is buried at Melrose Abbey. I had not thought to come across one in Wales, but here it is in St Mary's church in Chirk.

St Mary's on Chirk high street.
Does anybody know of any others in Wales?

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