Digital X-rays give look inside holy reliquaries in Mexico

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Veterinarian and mobile radiography specialist Jose Luis Velazquez shows a Catholic priest a high-definition x-ray of the molded wax head of Saint Felicitas of Rome, at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Mexico City, Friday, July 8, 2016. Non-invasive imaging

Veterinarian and mobile radiography specialist Jose Luis Velazquez shows a Catholic priest a high-definition x-ray of the molded wax head of Saint Felicitas of Rome, at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Mexico City, Friday, July 8, 2016. Non-invasive imaging (Photo: Rebecca Blackwell)

High-definition digital X-ray technology is giving researchers in Mexico their first glimpse inside centuries-old reliquaries in the capital's Metropolitan Cathedral.

The reliquaries — containers for holy relics — are life-size, wax body representations of Roman Catholic saints. According to Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History, investigators using a portable X-ray machine discovered a cranium, ribs, as well as bones from hands, feet and legs inside them.

Investigators also saw that while the extremities of the sculpted reliquaries were made of wax, the torsos were constructed from cloth. The bones contained within them are from saints as well, though not necessarily the same saint that is represented by the sculpture.

The information will allow conservationists to develop preservation and restauration strategies for the reliquaries located in the Mexico City cathedral.

-AP

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