‘Pray for us St Sebastian that we may deserve to pass through this pestilence,’ reads the inscription on a 15th-century reliquary imploring the patron saint of plague victims to assist Augsburg as the city faced another disease outbreak. Today, this exquisite silver offering — set with rock crystal, pearls and sapphires — sits alone in the Medieval and Renaissance Galleries of the V&A, patiently awaiting the return of the British public after our own Covid plague.
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Tristram Hunt is director of the Victoria & Albert Museum.
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