Processional cross, 16th-17th centuries
The processional cross is a liturgical object that symbolizes the Church in pilgrimage throughout the world and recalls the passion of Christ. This object was made in Spain in the 16th-17h centuries and it incorporates a rich decoration including several key characters in the story of Christ.
Did you know that…
The four animal representations next to the Evangelists were called “tetramorphs” and that they were already part of Christian imagery in the 4th century AD?
Having remote origins, processions are a public form of cult practice and religious display honouring and celebrating the Divine. Through them, and other celebrations, the Catholic Church takes the Sacred out of its cult spaces, thereby making it closer and more accessible to the faithful. Leading the cortege is, of course, the processional cross – symbolising the Church in pilgrimage, and evoking the passion of Christ.
This processional cross was made in Spain in the second half of 16th century or first half of the 17th. In pierced and chiselled silver with added gilt elements, the piece shows features of the late Gothic and Renaissance periods.
The arms of the cross have plant motifs, heads of cherubim, and lace borders. The central panel on the front has an angel holding a plaque inscribed INRI. At the extremities of the arms are figures of Christ the Redeemer, Saint John the Evangelist, Mary Magdalene, and Mary, mother of Jesus. On the back stands a figure of Our Lady (of the Assumption?) surrounded by the four Evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
The lower part of the cross is occupied by two hexagonal colonnaded drums depicting figures of various saints and their attributes. Based on parallels from the same period, it is possible that a figure of Christ crucified is missing from the front of the cross.