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Reliquary Monstrance with relic from the Titulus Crucis (INRI) of the True Cross of Jesus

Small Baroque reliquary monstrance made of wood with silvered front housing inside of a glass-fronted compartment a significant ex Titulus Crucis (from the Inscription board on the True Cross) relic of Christ's Passion The precious relic is affixed to a background of red silk decorated with gilt paperolle and identified on a fancy-cut manuscript cedula as Tabula Titul[i] Crucis DNJC (From the Titulus tablet of the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ). On the back, the relic is secured with a crisscrossed silk cord held in place by four perfectly preserved seals of red Spanish wax each with an imprint of a coat of arms of Fr. Antonio Martini (†1809), Archbishop of Florence (1781-1809).  

Titulus Crucis (Latin for "Title of the Cross") is a piece of wood claimed in to be a relic of the True Cross, kept in the church of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme in Rome. Christian tradition holds that the relic is part of the cross's titulus (inscription). The Church of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme was built about AD 325 by Saint Helena (the mother of Emperor Constantine the Great) after her pilgrimage to the Holy Land, during which she reportedly located the True Cross and many other relics which she gave to the new church. The Titulus Crucis is alleged to have been among these relics. At the time of Egeria's pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 383 a "title" (titulus) was shown as one of the relics at Jerusalem: "A silver-gilt casket is brought in which is the holy wood of the Cross. The casket is opened and (the wood) is taken out, and both the wood of the Cross and the title are placed upon the table." The 6th-century pilgrim Antoninus of Piacenza describes a titulus in Jerusalem and its inscription: it said Hic est rex Iudaeorum ("Here is the king of the Jews"), while the one kept in Rome shows Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum("Jesus the Nazarene King of the Jews"). Sometime before 1145 the relic was placed in a box which has the seal of Cardinal Gherardo Caccianemici dal Orso, raised to the cardinalate in 1124 as a cardinal priest of this church, who became Pope in 1144, as Lucius II, thus dating the seal. It was apparently forgotten until February 1, 1492, when it was discovered by workmen restoring a mosaic, hidden behind a brick with the inscription Titulus Crucis.

Additional Info

  • ID#: 41-RSCRM-7
  • Size: Reliquary is 7 1/2 in (19 cm) high
  • Age: ca. 1800
  • Origin: Florence, Italy
  • Price: Price upon request
  • Silver
  • Orthodox Cross
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