Better than Bertolli’s. Holy oil, blessed through contact with the True Cross, may once have been stored in this small hexagonal bottle, dating to the late sixth or early seventh century. The sixth-century Piacenza Pilgrim described worshipers at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre pressing similar flasks against the church’s most sacred relic: “When the mouth of one of the little flasks touches the Wood of the Cross, the oil instantly bubbles over, and unless it is closed very quickly it all spills out.”
The glass flasks, like slipper lamps, bear witness to the spiritual practices of the earliest Christian visitors to the tomb of Jesus. They also provide evidence of the burgeoning trade associated with the influx of thousands of Christian pilgrims to Jerusalem.