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Reliquary monstrance with 3 relics of the Passion of Christ - True Cross, Holy Thorn & Column of Flagellation

Large 18th-century reliquary monstrance housing relics of Christ's Passion: of the Wood from the True Cross, of the Holy Thorn from the Crown of Thorns, and of the Column of FlagellationThe relics are displayed in two grass-fronted cavities located in the center and the base of a cruciform monstrance of gilt wood. They are identified on a paper cedula labels as (top)  Ligno SS. Cruc. D. J. / Columna D. J. ([of] the Wood [from] the Most Holy Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ / [of] the Column of Flagellation of Our Lord Jesus Christ) and (bottom) as De Spina D. N. J. C. ([of] the Thorn of Our Lord Jesus Christ). On the back, the cavities are secured by four seals of red wax with a perfectly preserved imprint of a coat of arms of Fr. Aloisio Buonamici (†), Bishop of Volterra (1782-1791). Fit for a large place of public veneration. 

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.

The Column of Flagellation is a large segment of the Pillar upon which Jesus was flogged and tortured before his crucifixion is housed at the Basilica of Saint Praxedes in Rome. According to the Tradition, the relic has been retrieved in the early 4th century by Saint Helena (mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine I) who at the age of eighty undertook a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, where she founded churches for Christian worship and collected relics associated with the crucifixion of Jesus on Calvary. The relic was taken from the Holy Land and brought to Rome in 1222 by Cardinal Giovanni Colonna the Younger—a member of the powerful Colonna family during the 13th century. Given to him by the King of Jerusalem after the Fourth Crusade, Colonna brought the column back to Santa Prassede, his cardinalate church since 1212 (the church that is given to a cardinal).

According to three of the canonical Gospels a woven Crown of Thorns was placed on the head of Jesus during the events leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus. It was one of the instruments of the Passion, employed by Jesus' captors both to cause him pain and to mock his claim of authority. It is mentioned in the gospels of Matthew (27:29), Mark(15:17), and John (19:2, 5) and is often alluded to by the early Church Fathers, such as Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and others. In 1238, Baldwin II, the Latin Emperor of Constantinople, anxious to obtain support for his tottering empire, offered the crown of thorns to Louis IX, King of France. The relic stayed there until the French Revolution, when, after finding a home for a while in the Bibliothèque Nationale, the Concordat of 1801 restored it to the Church, and it was deposited in the Cathedral of Notre-Dame. The relic can only be seen on the first Friday of every month, when it is brought out for a special veneration mass, as well as each Friday during Lent.

Additional Info

  • ID#: 143-RSCR-22
  • Size: Reliquary: 42 cm / 16 1/2 inches high
  • Age: ca. late 18th century, Italy
  • Materials: gilt wood
  • Price: Price upon request
  • Orthodox Cross
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