Feb 1, 2018

Reliquary Cross

Reliquary Cross

c. 1050–1100; engraved gem: AD 1–100; rock crystal mounting: 800s–900s; setting: late 1200s

Wood core; gold, chased, engraved, nielloed; filigree; 14 gemstones, 50 pearls; copper, gilded; rock crystal, cut, bored, polished

Overall: 22.6 cm (8 7/8 in.); Cross: 17.2 x 13 cm (6 3/4 x 5 1/8 in.)


Did you know?

Medieval artisans crafted metalwork vessels to contain relics, often luminously decorated with enamel or precious stones to evoke the glistening kingdom of heaven.


This cross, encrusted with gems on the front and engraved with an image of the Crucifixion on the reverse, is the second oldest reliquary in the Münster treasury. An inscription indicates that it contained various relics such as pieces from the cross on which Christ was crucified and Christ’s tomb. Precious objects from ancient pagan and early Islamic cultures have been incorporated into the decoration: an engraved gem of the Roman goddess Minerva and a ninth- or tenth-century rock crystal flask originating from the Abbasid Caliphate in Egypt (750–1258). It was not uncommon for medieval artisans to utilize luxury non-Christian artifacts to make religious pieces more magnificent.

See also

Contact us

The information about this object, including provenance information, is based on historic information and may not be currently accurate or complete. Research on objects is an ongoing process, but the information about this object may not reflect the most current information available to CMA. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@clevelandart.org.

To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.

Request a digital file from Image Services that is not available through CC0, a detail image, or any image with a color bar. If you have questions about requesting an image, please email imageservices@clevelandart.org.