Precious Objects – from Late Antiquity to the Present

The Cathedral Treasury

The Treasury of Trier Cathedral presents one of the most significant collections of sacred art, consisting of pieces from Late Antiquity (relief of a relic procession), the Romanesque period (the Andreas portable altar, the reliquary of the Holy Nail, the Gozbert censer), the Gothic, the baroque eras, and the 19th/20th century (works of historicism from the Trier studio of Brems-Varain).

Additionally, there are several important manuscripts from the Middle Ages (Simeon’s Codex, the Helmarshausen Gospel, the Pericope (book of Gospel readings) of Kuno von Falkenstein, and several liturgical vestments.

Contact data:

Cathedral – Cathedral Treasury
Mustorstrasse 2
54290 Trier
Telephone + 49 (0)651 7105-378

Curator of the Cathedral Treasury: Auxiliary Bishop Jörg Michael Peters
Scholarly advisor: Markus Groß-Morgen, Trier Cathedral Museum

  • Relics

    Relics are physical remains of a saint or object from the saint. They have enjoyed great value as the visible sign of the saint’s individual support and intercession. The Cathedral relics were of an especially considerable significance, as they, along with the great age,  established the high ranking as well as the prestige of Trier Cathedral.

    According to the Trier diocese chronicle, the Gesta Treverorum, written about 1100, St. Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine, donated her palace to the Trier Bishop Agritius (died 330/335), which was then converted into the Cathedral. Furthermore, she brought a series of important relics to Trier: among them, the Holy Robe and the remains of St. Matthew, as well as a tooth of St. Peter, the Holy Nail, and the sole of a sandal of St. Andrew. These relics, kept in reliquaries, precious works of the goldsmith’s art, still comprise the basic inventory of the Trier Cathedral Treasury.

  • Reliquaries both in Liturgy and as Art

    Reliquaries played a great role in the Cathedral’s liturgy: They were laid on the altars, carried in processions, displayed to emperors and kings when they entered into the city, and shown to pilgrims at public exhibitions. In the Middle Ages, the veneration of the relics was expressed through their safe keeping in precious works of art. Gold, silver, gemstones, pearls, and ancient cameos were not only valuable materials but also reflected the aura of the sacred with their splendor. In addition, the technically and artistically outstanding design of the reliquaries was of relevance. As early as the 10th century, Trier under Archbishop Egbert (died 993) was the seat of several artists’ studios of European ranking, from which splendid manuscripts and other works of art emerged.

  • Safe-keeping and Public Display

    The reliquaries were kept safe from fire and theft in a treasury built on the north side of the choir around 1200. After the public display of relics in the Cathedral had become more and more popular beginning in the 14th century, the “Badisch Annex” was erected on the south side of the church around 1480; today the annex houses the Cathedral Archives in the upper story as well as the Cathedral Treasury. Besides the Holy Robe, numerous additional relics were found at the opening of the high altar in 1512. In the years 1512 to 1655, the great onrush of the faithful made it necessary to display the Cathedral Treasury relics from a platform built onto the west choir of the Cathedral for the pilgrims on the square in front of the Cathedral.

  • Loss and New Acquisitions

    Inventories from 1238, 1429, and 1776 as well as a copper engraving from 1655 permit detailed information about the Trier Cathedral Treasury, carefully conserved despite numerous wars over the centuries. Not until the 18th century were large segments used to finance the War of the First Coalition against French Revolutionary troops: 880 lbs./399 kilograms of precious metal were turned over to the electoral mint in 1792 and smelted. No more than 12 works of the treasury survived this loss. Numerous works came into the Cathedral Treasury in the 19th and 20th centuries from secularized churches, through donations, as loans, purchases from the art trade, and through new productions.

  • Author

    Text: Dr. Wolfgang Schmid, Professor

Cathedral Treasury Admission Prices

Adults € 1,50
Families (2 adults and up to 4 children) € 3,50
Reduced price* € 0,50
Groups: adults (20 - 35 persons) € 30,00

Groups: children (15-25 persons, ages 4-16)

€ 7,50

From November 2018 on: Combination ticket for Cathedral Treasury and Cathedral Museum

Adults € 4,00
Families € 8,00
Reduced price* € 2,20

With the TRIER-Card

Single card (adults) € 1,10
Family card € 2,60

*Children (ages 4 to 6), severely disabled and care person, insofar as noted in ID, students, military and others in voluntary services upon presentation of ID.