Coins As Relics in Medieval and Modern Europe

Lucia Travaini, The Thirty Pieces of Silver. Coin relics in medieval and modern Europe. Religion and Money in the Middle Ages. Routledge, Abingdon, Oxon – New York, 2022. 360 pp., 76 illustrations. 9780367688028. $160.00 / £120.00.
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The Thirty Pieces of Silver: Coin Relics in Medieval and Modern Europe discusses many interconnected topics relating to the most perfidious monetary transaction in history: the betrayal of Jesus by Judas for thirty pieces of silver. According to medieval legend, these coins had existed since the time of Abraham’s father and had been used in many transactions recorded in the Bible. This book documents fifty specimens of coins which were venerated as holy relics in medieval and modern churches and monasteries of Europe, from Valencia to Uppsala. Most of these relics are ancient Greek silver coins in origin mounted in precious reliquaries or used for the distribution of their wax imprints believed to have healing powers.

Drawing from a wide range of historical sources, from hagiography to numismatics, this book will appeal to students and academics researching Late Antique, Medieval, and Early Modern History, Theology, as well as all those interested in the function of relics throughout Christendom. The Thirty Pieces of Silver is a study that invites meditation on the highly symbolic and powerful role of money through coins, which were the price, value, and measure of Christ and which, despite being the most abject objects, managed to become relics.


  • List of Figures
  • List of Maps
  • Preface to the English edition
  • Preface
  • Acknowledgements
  • From the ritual uses of coins to their creation as relics
  • The coins of Saint Helena: Objects of devotion before the invention of the Thirty Pieces of Silver
  • Judas, the Priests and the Thirty Pieces of Silver
  • The legend of the Thirty Pieces of Silver: From hagiographic tale to coin relics
  • The Thirty Pieces of Silver depicted as instruments of the Passion
  • The Thirty Pieces of Silver as relics: From the first specimens to their proliferation
  • The Thirty Pieces of Silver as Jewish shekels
  • Through the eyes of the Antiquarian and those of the Devout. Identification and debate since the Sixteenth Century
  • Conclusions: Ancient and modern legends, coin relics and the nature of money
  • Appendix 1: Inventory of recorded specimens of the Thirty Pieces of Silver
  • Appendix 2: Collection of sources on the Thirty Pieces of Silver, by Francesco D’Angelo


You can order a copy of the book directly from the publisher, Routledge.

Read more about the author, Lucia Travaini, in our Who’s Who.