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Tin holy medallion used as an amulet, England, 1900-1916

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St Anthony, who is shown on this medallion, is the patron saint of travellers. Christians believe that saints can help protect them from danger and illness and this medallion is inscribed with the words “St Anthony, Pray for Us”. The medallion was sent by a Roman Catholic nun to one of her brothers in France during the First World War to protect him on his travels and keep him from danger. In effect, it was intended as a lucky charm or amulet. The use of such amulets has been commonplace – particularly in times of conflict. For example, there are stories of similar religious amulets being sewn into household curtains to protect homes from German Zeppelin air raids during the same war.

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Glossary: amulet

Small object or piece of jewellery worn as a protecting charm to ward off ill health and bad luck.