I thought I had chosen a really unusual image for my profile picture ( yes, its not me!). It is a 16th bust of an unknown saint and I took the photograph myself in the Cloisters Museum in New York last year. Now I see her face popping up in the current crop of magazines as she has been lent by the Metropolitan Museum to "Treasures from Heaven; Saints, Relics and Devotion in Medieval Europe" at the British Museum. Go and see her for yourself.
These 3 women are the reliquaries for the skulls of female saints. They are Belgian and from the early 16th century.
Reliquaries often took the form of the body parts they were created to contain. Bust reliquaries for the skulls of saints were placed on or near altars and, by the Middle Ages, were assembled in large numbers in some church sanctuaries. The small glazed medallions resembling jewellery once displayed additional relics. On particular feast days, such busts were carried in processions.