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Monstrance reliquary with relic of the True Cross of Jesus Christ

Elaborate Baroque 18th-century monstrance of gilt wood with crossed Arma Christi surmounted by carved wooden canopy containing oval silver glass-fronted theca housing relic of the Passion of Jesus Christ: particles of the Wood from the True Cross. The relics are mounted in cruciform shape on a background of red silk and surrounded by gold burst and twisted silver wire decoration. They are identified on elaborately cut out paper cedula label as Ex Lingo SS-mae Crucis D.N.J.C. (From the wood of the Most Precious Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ). The theca is authenticated on the back with perfectly preserved red wax seal of Francesco Gaetano Incontri (†1781), the Archbishop of Florence (p. 1741-1781). 

The True Cross is the name for physical remnants which, by the Church tradition, are believed to be from the cross upon which Jesus was crucified.  Empress Helena, the mother of Constantine, the first Christian Emperor of Rome, traveled to the Holy Land in 326–28, where she discovered the hiding place of three crosses that were believed to be used at the crucifixion of Jesus and of two thieves, St. Dismas and Gestas, executed with him, and a miracle revealed which of the three was the True Cross. Fragments of the Cross were broken up, and the pieces were widely distributed; in 348, in one of his Catecheses, Cyril of Jerusalem remarked that the "whole earth is full of the relics of the Cross of Christ." Most of the very small relics of the True Cross in Europe came from Constantinople after the city was captured and sacked in 1204 during the Fourth Crusade. They were carved up by the present bishops and divided with other very precious relics among the knights; who, after their return to the homeland, donated them to churches and monasteries.

Additional Info

  • ID#: 122-LCD-12
  • Size: Monstrance: 42 x 17 cm
  • Age: ca. third quarter of the 18th century, Italy
  • Materials: gilt wood monstrance and silver theca
  • Price: Price upon request
  • Silver
  • Orthodox Cross
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