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Reliquary of St. Maur

Did you know that Czechia and Belgium are connected through a treasure? A fascinating discovery was made in the town of Bečov in 1985, when a team of detectives found a rare and lost reliquary of St. Maur coming from Belgium. In fact if the events turned out a bit differently, the reliquary might have remained forever hidden under the earth. This priceless monument was hidden by its owners at the end of the Second World War, when the Belgian family of Beaufort had fled from Czechoslovakia. The reliquary of St. Maur is an important Romanesque monument dating from the first third of the 13th century. After the Czech crown jewels, the reliquary is considered to be the second most valuable monument in the Czech Republic and the most important Romanesque monument jeweler on the Czech territory.

The discovery of the reliquary of St. Maur in 1985 is considered to be one of the greatest findings of the 20th century in then Czechoslovakia. The reliquary of St. Maur was in the years 1225-1230 tailored for a member of a wealthy family Rumingy, who had also founded the Saint Benedict's Monastery in the Belgian town of Florennes. The Belgian bishop Gérard de Rumigny acquired the relics of Saint John the Baptist and later St. Maur from the cathedral in Reims. The reliquary was created mainly in order to protect these relics.

The discovery of the reliquary is connected to a mysterious story. The dramatic scenario begins at the end of the war. The Beaufort family collaborated with the Nazi regime and therefore had to flee from Czechoslovakia. They decided to hide the precious reliquary deep underground. Here the story ended in order to continue again only forty years later. In 1984, a noble family authorized an American treasure hunter Danny Douglas to recover the reliquary. Thanks to this hunter the Czechs happened to discover the reliquary.

The mystery surrounding the reliquary is associated with the day when Mr. Danny Douglas came to the Czechoslovak embassy in Vienna and offered to purchase “strange thing hidden in the Czechoslovakia” which had a value of 250,000 dollars.  Mr. Douglas suggested that he finds “this thing” himself. The criminologist Franz Maryška said that without Mr. Douglas Czechoslovakia would not have probably found the treasure. After the visit at the embassy the detectives began searching for an unfamiliar object, knowing almost nothing about it. During the negotiating process, Mr. Douglas revealed the approximate size of the object as well as specified the approximate location to be about 150 kilometers far from Norimberk city. With these specifications, the policemen had discovered general information about an existence of the reliquary of St. Maur in Bečov nad Teplou,Czech Republic. This is when they began searching castle in Bečov nad Teplou with a metal detector.

The whole story about the mysterious reliquary connects Czech Republic with Belgium, especially through the Belgian family of Beaufort, which fled at the end of the Second World War from the castle in Bečov nad Teplou only with the basic things. They had to leave behind their most precious valuable – the reliquary of St. Maur – in the castle in the Czech Republic. Despite leaving the castle in haste, they managed to hide the reliquary. The reliquary was covered with earth and hidden under the floor of the Visitation Chapel of Virgin Mary. After the war, the castle was nationalized.

For the first time, the reliquary was shown to the public in the Prague Castle in 2000 although at this moment it had not been fully restored yet. Since 4 May 2002 it has become part of the permanent exhibition at the place where it was found and it can be seen in a blue dining room at the castle of Bečov nad Teplou in the region of Karlovy Vary. The reliquary of St. Maur could have been seen also in other places, e.g. in 2010 was transferred to the Vladislav Hall of the Prague Castle, where it was exposed until 2011 next to the copy of the Czech Crown Jewels.

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