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Bacci, Michele

The Volto Santo's Legendary and Physical Image

The present paper examines the Lucca Volto Santo in its double dimension as legendary and physical image. A special emphasis is given to the origins of the Volto Santo cult and its strong connections with the liturgical commemoration of the Passio imaginis, i.e. the Eastern, iconodulic tradition concerning an icon of Christ which was said to have been injured by the Beirut Jews and to have suffered the same pains as inflicted on the Saviour's body. The alleged antiquity of the sculpture, thought to be the work of the Pharisee Nicodemus, was suggested by its anachronistic representation as a crucified figure wearing a long belted tunic, whose plausible sources are here indicated in early medieval works of art made for the Christian communities of the Near East.

Bacile, Rosa

A Medieval Liturgical Drama: The Burial Arrangements of King William II and the Passion of Christ Mosaics, Monreale Cathedral

The focus of this paper will be the burial arrangement of King William II in the cathedral of Monreale. Around 1176, a porphyry sarcophagus was placed in the south side of the choir underneath the sumptuous mosaic decoration which adorns the cathedral. The decorative mosaic cycle just above the royal cemetery represents images from the passion of Christ.

The iconography of the mosaic decoration in the south aisle, the location of the royal mausoleum and the use of a porphyry sarcophagus for the burial of the King will here be explained in relation to Offertory and Eucharist processions which were performed around the burial monument. First, in the Middle Ages, liturgical significance was attributed to porphyry on account of its purple colour, which reminded believers of the blood of Christ and, by extension, the rite of the Eucharist. Thus, the symbolism and rewarding mechanism of the Eucharistic service was clearly aimed at connecting the passion and resurrection of Christ with the death of King William II and to symbolize its possible reward of eternal redemption from his sins.

The preparatory prayers to receive the Eucharist had the scope to assure that the celebrants were ready to receive the body and spirit of Christ. The tone of these prayers, which were recited in preparation for the Eucharist, is very apologetic and is to anticipate the redemptive character of the service, and the promise of salvation and eternal life which participation in the service would have provided.

This paper will conclude that it was the burial plan which had a pivotal role in the distribution of the decorative programmes, in the choice of a particular liturgy to be performed in the cathedral, and for the way in which the spaces were used to perform this liturgy.

Boyle, Elizabeth

A Chríst rochés tar mo chenn: Sacrifice and Salvation in Echtgus Ua Cúanáin's Poem on the Eucharist

The crucifixion of Christ is inextricably linked, in literary and theological terms, to the accounts of the last supper found in the synoptic gospels. Both events – the last supper and the crucifixion – encapsulate the symbiotic relationship between the concepts of sacrifice and salvation in Christian thought. Echtgus Ua Cúanáin's Middle Irish doctrinal poem on the real presence in the Eucharist (preserved in Brussels, Bibliothèque royale MS 5100-4, pp. 16-8, in the hand of Míchél Ó Cléirigh), links the offering of bread and wine on the Thursday before Christ's suffering to the glory of the resurrected Christ as he exists in heaven thereafter. The text was edited by A. G. van Hamel in 1917, and an English translation was published by Gerard Murphy in the 1961 festschrift for Aubrey Gwynn. However, since the brief comments on the text made by Gwynn himself in his History of the Diocese of Killaloe (1962), Echtgus's poem has not been studied in any depth, despite its rich, allusive language, its wider literary resonances, and its theological complexity. The present study will consider the depiction of Christ – before and after his crucifixion – in Echtgus's poem, and discuss the influence that Christ's suffering has on Echtgus's theology of the Eucharist. Echtgus's poem will be considered within the context of contemporary European debates on Christ's presence in the Eucharistic host, and his translation, or adaptation, of Latin authorities will be discussed. In particular, while Echtgus's debt to Paschasius Radbertus's De corpore et sanguine Domini (831-3) has already been noted by Gwynn, it will be argued that he was also drawing on a more contemporary authority, namely Lanfranc of Canterbury. Lanfranc's letter to Domhnall Ua h-Énna, bishop of Munster, written in 1080 or 1081, and Echtgus's poem on the real presence share many textual parallels and theological concerns, and given the geographical proximity of the two texts (Echtgus's poem was composed at Roscrea, Lanfranc's letter was sent to the bishop of Munster), and also their likely chronological proximity (Echtgus's poem should probably be dated, on linguistic grounds, to the late eleventh century or early twelfth), I suggest that Echtgus's poem may have been written as a response to Lanfranc's letter, thereby offering further evidence for Ireland's close engagement with European theological debates in the eleventh century.

Camps i Sòria, Jordi

Romanesque Majestats, a Kind of Christus Triumphans in Catalonia

Catalonia, in the northeast of the Iberian Peninsula, has preserved a large number of polychrome wood carvings and has a remarkable range of types and includes a series of masterpieces in the history of the Romanesque sculpture. Images of Christ on the cross, alone or as part of a larger group, are one of the commonest type in churches. In fact, there are two very widespread types which are, basically, Christ in Majesty (Christus triumphans) and the suffering Christ (Christus patiens). Apparently the two forms of Christ developed during the Romanesque period alongside one another. Certainly, there are no conclusive signs to date that one came before the other.

Christus triumphans, called Majestats in Catalonia, come from the eastern Pyrenees and have generally been dated to the central decades of the twelfth century. Some still work as objects of worship, others are preserved in museums or private collections. All of them form a coherent and homogeneous group and represent one of the most outstanding legacies of Catalan Romanesque art. One of the most emblematic examples of this typology is the Batlló Majesty, kept in the MNAC. It has preserved a large part of its polychromy, both on the figure and on the cross. Christ appears dressed in a richly decorated tunic, in imitation of Byzantine fabrics, and holds his arms out horizontally in a stiff, solemn stance, reinforced by having his eyes open, symbolising the triumph of Christ over death. It perfectly illustrates the idea of Christus triumphans, of which a very prestigious prototype is known to us, the Volto Santo of Lucca cathedral in Tuscany. It is quite possible that the cult spread from Tuscany to other regions. In fact, in Catalonia, other works like the Majesty of Caldes de Montbui or that of Beget, which are still worshipped in their churches, show the survival of a cult that must have developed during the Romanesque period and that in modern times is reflected in the words of the Goigs, traditional rhymes that were sung in honour of Mary, of Christ or of the saints, and which it seems already existed in the fourteenth century. As regards Catalan examples, we must not forget there are accounts that hint at the worship of images of the crucifix with connotations that might even suggest a link to the Eastern Mediterranean. One case is the cult of the miraculous Christ of Beirut. There are accounts of the celebration of the Passio imaginis Christi ('the Passion of our Lord and Saviour who was crucified in Beirut') in Girona in the tenth century, while similar celebrations are documented in Ripoll and Vic in the eleventh century. It is nevertheless risky to draw a direct connection between these eleventh-century accounts and the twelfth-century sculptures.

Along with the Batlló Majesty, there are other carvings of the same sort, such as the Majesty of La Trinitat de Bellpuig (Roussillon) and the Organyà Majesty. The latter seems to be related to works that appeared in the area of the Bishopric of Urgell and marks one of the Western limits to the presence of Romanesque Christs in Majesty in Catalonia. Thus it seems very likely that there were workshops in large monasteries and cathedrals, like Ripoll, Vic, Girona and La Seu d'Urgell, amongst others. Studies of techniques and materials being carried out at the MNAC on some of these simply painted or carved pieces provide further evidence for the existence of these workshops.

Chazelle, Celia

The Mass and the Eucharist, "Image" of the Crucified Christ, in the Christianization of Early Medieval Europe

The process of Christianization in early medieval Europe varied tremendously according to local circumstances, especially at the lower levels of society. Nonetheless, by the twelfth century as was not true in the fifth, most Europeans participated in certain shared ritual practices and held certain shared beliefs that they and we would identify as Christian. To give just a few examples, by the twelfth century most Europeans were baptized and familiar with penance, the Eucharist (the mass), and anointing; and however limited their grasp of learned theology, most accepted the notions of a Trinity of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, of heaven and hell, of the presence of angels and saints in the former and Satan in the latter. The fundamental, distinctive, shared characteristic of Christianity, though, it has been suggested, was the Christian biblical conception of salvation history. Most Europeans, by the twelfth century, had come to see this history as the "story" framing their own experience. The world had a precise beginning and end. Their lives unfolded within a temporal stream that had started at the creation and would continue until Christ's return, a chronology in which the pivotal events were his life, death, and resurrection. Though occurrences of a distant past, they were the key to every mortal's hope of reaching heaven in the future, and thus they impinged directly on every moment of time in the past, present, and future.

From the fifth through the twelfth centuries, this outlook gradually infused different regions and social levels in early medieval Europe. In part the process was top-down: rulers, aristocracy, and high-ranking church officials collaborated to encourage or even compel conversion in the lower classes. But additionally, we must take into account the enormous "grassroot" efforts of lower ranking monks, nuns, and clergy. They were the foot soldiers of this transformation. The most direct means by which they disseminated a Christian view of sacred history was through their teaching and preaching, yet the rites they performed were also significant. Ritual provided the structure within which much of the religious instruction of the laity took place. Further, once liturgies became familiar, repeated encounters with the ceremonies must have reminded lay worshippers of some aspects of earlier instruction in their meaning, and perhaps inspired new ideas regarding the rituals' connection with Christ's work of salvation.

Although any Christian ritual may inspire remembrance of the crucifixion, since the ancient church the principal ceremony for this has been the mass, and the Eucharist is the principal liturgical "image" of the crucified Christ – indeed more than image, since it actually is his body and blood. This lecture will focus on the changing role of the mass and Eucharist in the Christianization of Frankish or Carolingian territories in the eighth and ninth centuries, the period when masses first became prominent elements of monastic devotion in those areas. A corollary was that growing numbers of Frankish monks were priests. There is evidence suggesting that before the eighth century, in early medieval Europe and particularly in rural societies, beliefs about what constituted a "mass" or the "Eucharist" were fluid and ambiguous. As Carolingian imperial and clerical authority grew and a monasticized priesthood developed, though, more services accessible to rural laypeople centered on monastic/priestly masses. Exposure to these masses and to their "image" of the crucified Christ, as monk-priests taught the laity, strengthened the hold of Christianity in these communities, deepening the sense there that all human life is tied to the crucifixion and transpires within the same frame of salvation history.

Fouquet-Arnal, Cécile

The Glorious Christ: The Illustration of Psalm 21 in the Bury St Edmunds Psalter (Vatican Library, Ms. Reg. Lat. 12)

From late Antiquity and throughout the Middle Ages, the psalms were considered from a Christological point of view by many exegetes. Many parallels were thus established between the verses of the psalms and passages from the Gospels, as we can see in the commentaries of St Augustine, Jerome or Cassiodorus on the psalms. Many psalms refer directly to the crucifixion, particularly Psalm 21. Indeed, the whole of the text was considered by many exegetes to be a prefiguration of several episodes of the passion of Christ. Moreover, several verses of this psalm are directly included in the four Gospels. In the Gospel of Saint Matthew, for example, Christ himself, just before dying, pronounces these words "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" as we find in the second verse of Psalm 21. For this reason, many artists have associated this psalm with the image of the crucifixion, as well as the martyrdom of Christ, and his suffering during the passion. Only the Bury St Edmunds Psalter, (Vatican Library, ms. Reg. Lat. 12) seems to be detached from this iconographic tradition by its uncommon interpretation of this psalm.

On account of its cycle of illustration, which is almost exclusively marginal, this constitutes one of the most original of Romanesque Western manuscripts. Palaeographic and stylistic analyses situate its composition some time between 1050 and 1065. Some believe that it was realized in Canterbury at the cathedral of Christ Church; the consensus is that it was produced for the monastery at Bury St Edmunds. The crucifixion occupies the whole of the external margin of folio 35r. Only Christ on the cross is represented; there is no character illustrated on either side. On the other hand, several attributes, such as the crown, the scepter, the chalice and the snake, complete this synthetic image. It is thus not the death which is illustrated here but the glorious reign of Christ and his triumph. The image is therefore not considered as a literal illustration of Psalm 21, and the crucifixion not as a simple, historical event taken from the Gospels. Such an iconography can be understood, however, in the light of contemporary interpretation of the liturgy. The importance of the cross in Anglo-Saxon religious life is well documented; the Regularis Concordia mentions a votive mass in honour of the cross during the Good Friday celebrations. But it is also necessary to pay attention to the bond which links the text and the image, reinforced by the provision of the image in the margin. Psalm 21 is almost always read on Palm Sunday. This Sunday celebrates two events: the glorious entry of Christ into Jerusalem and his imminent passion; that is to say, his death on the cross. This illustration exemplifies perfectly the liturgical reading of the psalm. Indeed, the crucifixion is emphatically not considered as an element of torture but on the contrary as the means of salvation. Therefore, it seems to be clear that this crucifixion is a symbol of the triumph of Christ over death and of his glorious reign.

García de Castro Valdés, César

Some Questions on Function and Iconography of the Cross in the Asturian Kingdom

From its very beginnings, the kingdom of Asturias (722-910) and its successor kingdom of León (910-1037) offer a wide visual and documentary repertoire utilising the sign of the cross, in contexts from monumental and funerary sculpture to manuscript miniatures and legal documents. In part, this characteristic can be explained in terms of continuity with the Visigothic kingdom of Toledo, where interest in the cult of the cross developed during the seventh century. However, the predominance of this most Christian of signs during the eighth to the tenth centuries requires specific explanation, and reference to continuity alone will not suffice. Rather, the kingdom must be seen against its contemporary backdrop; of a Europe embroiled in debates on the meaning of images, spurred on by the iconoclastic controversy, Adoptionism, and sacramental Christology and theology then developing in intellectual Carolingian circles.

This paper will address the iconographic manifestations and context of the appearance of the cross in these kingdoms. Common to all cross iconography of Asturias-León is the absence of representations of Christ crucified. Always it is the gemmed cross, allusive of the sign of parousia and victory, which is found; images of Christ's redemptive sacrifice, or of his glory dominating death from the instrument of his torment, are conspicuous by their absence. Formally, the models are Byzantine, and reach their maturity with the making of the first of the great gemmed Asturian crosses, the Cross of the Angels of the cathedral of San Salvador of Oviedo, donated by Alfonso II in 808. However, this Greek cross type was not the only model with wide distribution at this early period. Another Byzantine type, consisting of a Latin cross with arms forked at their extremities, is found contemporaneously in mural painting in the church of Santullano de Oviedo (San Julián de los Prados), also founded by Alfonso II in the first decades of the ninth century, and as relief sculpture on the enigmatic Foncalada de Oviedo. Both types achieve a similar dissemination and are found on commemorative plaques, inscriptions and on the lintels of many of the buildings patronised by the aristocracy. The culmination of this development is reached with Alfonso III's donation of the great Cross of Victory to the cathedral of Oviedo, marking exactly one century since his predecessor Alfonso II's gift of the Cross of the Angels. To be exact, Alfonso III chose the Cross of Oviedo as his own ex-libris; he also displayed his devotion to the signum salutis with the gift of an exact replica of the Cross of the Angels to the church of Santiago de Compostela in 874, which has unfortunately been missing since 1906.

No doubt owing to this aristocratic usage, such Asturian cross types were widely employed on tombslabs, stellae, sarcophagi, and in other archaeological funerary contexts. All of these bear testimony to a developing Christianisation in the northern lands of the Iberian Peninsula, which advanced in tandem with the consolidation of institutional ecclesiastical structures. There had been some Christianisation here prior to the eighth century, but evidence is merely testimonial, and Christian presence appears to have been slight. Thus, the expanding distribution of the sign of the cross indicates, depending on its context, both an ideological agenda, and a growing sense of social ownership in the cross. At the same time, the complexity of symbolism of the great gemmed Asturian crosses constitutes the most solid evidence of the intellectual heights reached in the kingdom. These bear witness to the joint creative capacity of its thinkers and artists, and to their fruitful exploitation by the Asturian rulers.

Graff, Eric

Trading on the Coin of Time in the Crucifixion Chronology

This paper investigates the rich typology of the crucifixion as it appears in one of the most mysterious tracts from the Irish computistical tradition, the Disputatio Morini Alexandrini episcopi de ratione paschali. Originally an exegetical tract of the early Christian period, this disputation now exists solely in a redaction preserved in computus manuscripts, nearly all of which come from an Irish context. The Disputatio Morini was for a long time classed as an 'Irish Forgery', and Bartholomew Mac Carthy in 1901 characterised it as "the most ludicrous tissue of fact and fiction in existence". Nevertheless, questions regarding the authorship and the intent of the text have been largely solved by recent attention to its technical details. This paper, then, proposes to read the text anew, giving serious scrutiny to its densely layered exegetical strategies.

The Disputatio traces the account of the week of Christ's crucifixion from the Gospel of Matthew (26:2, 'post biduum pascha fiet'), and correlates this chronology with the record in Genesis of the week of creation. Both these events are related to the timing of the first Passover feast, and then to a corrected (but disputed) operation of the Easter computus. The correspondence of these chronologies is taken as a measure of the symmetry and proportion of divine creation, and briefly leads the writer to anticipate the structure of the End Times. A coda appended to the text introduces a technical adjustment to the Victorian lunar table, and provides data specific to the seventh century.

While the contents of the Disputatio are shaped to make an argument about the Easter computus, they are impressed with the markings of a larger discourse, the importance of which is not lost, but rather highlighted in the remaining fragments. The matrix for such a topical examination of scripture can be found in fourth-century dialogues meant to settle questions about literal or typological details in the scriptures. So, for example, the Disputatio traces the parallel 'weeks' of key biblical events and also the appearance of the figure of the serpent in each instance.

The figure of Christ crucified becomes here the means of passing from one scriptural episode to the next, from one exegetical frame to the next, and from the history to the present of human salvation. The themes explored within the text acquire their objective correlative in the computistical coda, which offers practical advice for the management of the liturgical calendar. The complexity of the text is in its finely calibrated weighing of equivalent measures of sacred time. The expected typological conclusion is passed over in favour of the numeric expression of value relative to the calendar, and points finally to an ambitious statement of Christian unity in the observance of the paschal feast.

Harley McGowan, Felicity

Christ's Passion in Fifth-Century Rome: Formulating an Iconography of Crucifixion

The execution of a Jewish man named Jesus of Nazareth in the first century AD is at the centre of Christianity; and the instrument of his death, the cross, remains the pivotal and universally recognised symbol of the Christian church. Yet contrary to this theological and visual centrality (including the well-known popularity of the crucifix in medieval, Byzantine and Renaissance art), Jesus' death is conspicuously rare in art surviving from the early Christian period. With no visual precedents for the depiction of crucifixion in the ancient world, how did early Christians arrive at an explicit iconography of the death of their saviour?

As early as the third and fourth centuries, Christian communities in different parts of the Roman Empire experimented with depictions of the crucifixion. Among the earliest surviving evidence are depictions in miniature format on three engraved gemstones. The oldest, preserving the earliest extant image of Jesus crucified, shows him as a single figure hanging on his cross. In both of the later (fourth century) examples he is accompanied by the twelve apostles. A critical development occurs in the fifth century in Rome when the crucified figure is placed into a broader narrative context. As events from the passion were being celebrated in a stational liturgy around the main churches of the city, pictorial narratives produced in Roman workshops began to include representations of the crucifixion for the first time. Only two extant works document this inclusion, both carved in the city between 420 and 430 AD. The first occurs in a miniature context for private viewing – within a passion sequence depicted across four ivory panels. The second appears in a public, monumental context – within the programme of Old and New Testament scenes decorating the early fifth-century doors of the Church of Santa Sabina.

This paper will focus specifically on the ivory panels, which preserve the most detailed narrative of the passion in early Christian art. Beginning with the judgement of Pilate, Jesus' arrest and Peter's denial, the cycle juxtaposes Jesus' crucifixion with the suicide of Judas Iscariot (Matthew 27:3-5) before concluding with two post-resurrection scenes. In its sequential arrangement and iconographic makeup, the cycle effects a powerful visual interpretation of Jesus' death. It clearly demonstrates the ways in which early Christian images of death were influenced by contemporary Pagan-Roman attitudes towards, and pictorial customs for, the depiction of death: stock gestures of mourning, symbols and visual motifs associated with death and new life would have been familiar to the contemporary viewer. Yet the crucified figure of Jesus will be shown to illustrate that early Christian image-makers simultaneously defined themselves against this tradition, formulating new and culturally risqué iconographies which, when read within the broader pictorial contexts in which they were placed, stood as bold statements of Christian belief in resurrection to eternal life.

Hawtree, Richard

'Christ on the Cross' in Eriugena's Carmina for Charles the Bald

The poems Eriugena wrote at the court of Charles the Bald, dating from the middle of the ninth century, set out a strikingly coherent method for the reading of images, especially the image of Christ on the cross. This paper studies Eriugena's poetic output as the culmination of a long tradition of Insular biblical commentary. Eriugena's writings are interpreted as works strongly preoccupied with affective devotion and the cross poems are discussed in the light of the vernacular Old Irish work of Blathmac. This study considers those elements in the carmina which are most characteristic of the ninth century, whilst at the same time analysing Eriugena's indebtedness to early medieval textual and visual models. Both the famous crucifixion image in the St Gall Gospels and the ninth-century Anglo-Saxon cross-head fragment at Rothbury afford striking visual parallels for Eriugena's description of Christ in Carmen I:

Behold the pierced palms. the shoulders and feet,
the temples girt with the cruel wreath of thorns.
From the midst of his side, the unlocked fount of salvation,
flow living draughts of water and blood.

This striking imagery of the cross is studied in relation to a range of textual and visual sources, especially the Hiberno-Latin glosses, reflecting the theological complexities of the Insular commentary tradition. Eriugena here emerges as a writer who is as much the product of Insular theological values as he is the champion of the most recent Carolingian ideals.

Kitzinger, Beatrice

Crucifix and Crucifixion in an Early Breton Gospel Book: The Opening Diptych of Angers MS 24.

The Bibliothèque Municipale in Angers houses a late ninth-/early tenth-century gospel book that has been localized in Brittany through textual analysis and stylistic comparison. The extraordinary image following the canon tables of this manuscript is the subject of my paper. The Angers 24 diptych has often been recognized as important — it has, for example, been cited as the earliest occurrence of deposition iconography in western manuscripts — but the wealth of ideas presented by this complex image has never been fully studied. This paper draws upon my research on the role and character of crucifixion images in Breton gospel books at the turn of the ninth century. I aim to account for the project of the unparalleled Angers 24 image in view of its content, format, and position in the manuscript. I begin with the interplay of content and composition, focusing on the relationship between the narrative sequence from crucifixion to entombment (itself unusual in the context of manuscript illumination at this period), the hieratic structure of the left-hand side of the image in particular, and the image's articulation of the cross as an iconic object. I describe the importance of the cross's shifting characterization: first as a crucifix and then as an object symbolic of the theological meaning of the crucifixion, placing emphasis on the fundamental importance to the image of the transformation event itself. I discuss the liturgical and ecclesiological overtones of the diptych's iconography and inscriptions, with reference to the particular selection of scenes and phrases, as well as the grammar and placement of the texts. I analyse the function of the image within the gospel book with mention of some comparative material, particularly as regards the image's position in the codex, and with a view to several other elements of the Angers manuscript itself. My argument characterizes the Angers diptych as a Eucharistic image of great originality that also represents part of a general emphasis in the Breton gospel manuscripts on the relationship between gospelbook and Mass. The Angers 24 diptych offers an exceptionally rich intersection of passion narrative with cross and mass theology at the intersection of the Carolingian and Insular worlds. Its maker, moreover, conceived of it as an image with great agency in an effort to illuminate both the sacramental meaning of the passion and the importance of the passion to the nature of the gospel manuscript that carries it.

Krasnodębska-D'Aughton, Małgorzata

Bhreathnach, Edel

Piety, Pictures and the Passion of Christ: the Iconographic Programme of Ennis Friary

The paper seeks to examine sculptural pieces in the friary of Ennis as a reflection of Franciscan piety and devotions in Ireland at the end of the fifteenth century.

The four separate sculptural pieces preserved in the friary, namely the Man of Sorrows, the fragmentary Pieta, panels of the so-called MacMahon/Creagh tomb as well as the portrait of St Francis, evoke the theme of Christ's passion. The paper proposes that all these images were envisaged in their original plan as part of a decorative and devotional cycle in the friary, since they appear to be of the same date and from the same workshop or even the same craftsman. Dated to c. 1460-70 they may have been commissioned by Mór Ní Bhriain, a descendant of the friary's founder.

The paper addresses the following points: the iconographic relationship between all the sculptural pieces, the relationship of iconography to Franciscan devotional texts composed or known in late medieval Ireland, the function of sculpture within the structure of the friary and its relation to liturgy, particularly the Easter liturgy. Finally, the paper looks at female patronage and the role of women in promoting Franciscan devotions.

Maddern, Christine

Lectio divina and visio divina: Reading the Cross in the Early Insular World

In 1981 the late Robert Stevenson drew attention to the ambiguity inherent in many early Insular depictions of the cross, including those imbedded in interlace.

One aspect of his argument was that blank spaces were as likely to be used to depict the cross as solid versions. This paper develops this idea further, investigating parallels between stone sculpture depicting non-figural crosses and their figural and non-figural equivalents in other media. Following this, it considers the way in which non-figural cross-carved slabs were likely to have been interpreted by an ecclesiastic audience in the Insular world. It suggests that, to an educated eye, there was no such thing as an empty cross; a process that I will call visio divina was used to relate outline carved crosses to those represented in other media. The central argument is that this process was used in conjunction with established notions of lectio divina to interpret spaces in stone sculpture according to contemporary theological and liturgical tenets.

Two specific examples will be considered: Northumbrian name-stones and multiple conjoined crosses at Inishmurray. In the former example, crosses with expanded central bosses and terminals are related to manuscript miniatures which fill the expansions with various representations of Christ and the four Evangelists. These, in turn, recall scriptural teaching on death, the last judgement, and resurrection, and so are particularly apposite for the purpose of the slabs on which they are carved, which was funerary and/or commemorative.

The second example arises from recent research on the cross-carved slabs at the early Irish eremitical and turas settlement on the Isle of Inishmurray. Here, a unique group of slabs are relief-carved with groups of crosses joined at their bases. One slab is carved with a simple linear composition of three crosses; two further slabs are carved with a large central and two smaller flanking crosses. The theme is clearly Christ Between Two Thieves, although the style in which it is depicted has changed radically in the possibly 400-year interval between the two types of grouped crosses. The images likely to have been recalled by the process of divina visio, together with the likely theological ideas behind this theme are discussed and related to changing theological ideas and liturgical practices.

Marks, Richard

From Langford to South Cerney: The Rood in Anglo-Norman England

Fragments found in a wall at South Cerney church (Gloucestershire) in 1913 constitute the only known wooden and polychromed figure of Christ crucified from twelfth-century England. Now in the British Museum, it has variously been compared with contemporary English stone carving and Spanish and German Romanesque sculpture. Based on a close examination of the fragments, this paper seeks to place them on the one hand within the wider context of representations of the rood in the eleventh and twelfth centuries and on the other consider their location and function within South Cerney church.

In 1138, Henry of Huntingdon alleged that atrocities committed by Scots included desecration of roods. This raises the question of how common they were in parish churches at this time. Relevant to the discussion is the number of extant stone relief roods, notably in the region of South Cerney, and also of churches dedicated to the Holy Cross in the area. While the date of the dedications is not known, the stone roods are ascribed to the tenth and eleventh centuries. Is the South Cerney rood, therefore, a manifestation of a regional devotion to the rood which was already established before the Norman Conquest? Or is it testament to the longevity of a particularly marked national devotion to the rood in Anglo-Saxon England? If so, how does this relate to the installation of roods in churches throughout twelfth-century Europe?

The fabric of South Cerney church largely post-dates the Christ figure, so there are no clues as to its original emplacement. However, the location of the fragments within the wall adjacent to the current chancel arch suggests that it was set up in this position, no doubt on a beam. The role it played in liturgical celebration is related to the problem of the position of the altar in parish churches in the eleventh and twelfth centuries.

A final question is the date when the fragments were walled up. The assumption has been that this done to preserve them under Edward VI, when all roods as well as other images were removed and destroyed. This is a plausible hypothesis, but there is an alternative suggestion: they were placed in proximity to the chancel arch long before the Reformation as a symbol of sacred continuity when South Cerney church was reconstructed and a new rood installed.

Miller, Amy

The Hanged Gods: Christ, Odin, and the Gosforth "Crucifixion"

The small village of Gosforth, Cumbria, England is home to an impressive collection of sculpture erected in the tenth century by Norse immigrants.  The most striking extant monument, the Gosforth cross, is decorated with vignettes of the Ragnarok, the final battle between the Norse gods and the forces of chaos.  This paper will argue that the "crucifixion" scene on the east face of the Gosforth cross uses the iconography of Christ's suffering to illustrate Odin's self-sacrifice to gain the knowledge of the dead.

The meaning of this scene has been debated for over a century, with interpretations ranging from Christ to the reincarnated Baldur, who returns after the Ragnarok to herald an age of peace. Both interpretations are unsatisfying because they imply either the artist's misinterpretation or unorthodox theology. Rather, I suggest that through the iconography of the crucifixion of Christ this scene shows Odin's death by hanging, an important episode from Norse mythology that has no known Scandinavian iconographic precedent. By dying, Odin gained knowledge that could only be obtained through death. Crucifixion iconography communicated the key aspects of the Odin myth: death by hanging, physical suffering, and the implication of a return from the dead.

Rather than exploiting the Anglo-Saxon preference for the pathos of Mary and John, aspects of Christ's crucifixion that have no parallel in the Odin myth, the Gosforth artist focuses on Odin's physical suffering by including a spearman, who pierces the god's side, and a Valkyrie, who denies him drink.  The crucifixion showing Christ tortured by Longinus and Stephaton was familiar to the West Vikings through their exposure to Irish sculptural crucifixion scenes from both stone crosses and more portable bronze plaques. Evidence of their influence is also seen in a stone crucifixion plaque from Penrith, Cumbria.

In the Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture, Richard Bailey states that the Gosforth sculptures represent "the world of a master craftsman whose patron was a man of radical theological insights." A less radical explanation for this unusual scene is more likely. The Gosforth artist, when faced with the need to depict Odin hanging on the World Tree, appealed to the iconography established by the regional Christians to depict their own hanged god. Details of the Gosforth scene indicate that the artist did not possess a sophisticated understanding of Christian theology. Rather, he used elements of the crucifixion for their superficial qualities. The adaption of this iconography shows how Norse immigrants may have understood Christian stories not in terms of conversion but as a vehicle for their own cultural expression.

Mullins, Juliet

Factus est Deus homo, ut homo fieret deus: Preaching the Passion in the Irish Homiletic Tradition

The period between the rise of the Carolingians in the eighth century and the development of dialectic at the end of the eleventh has been characterised by scholars of medieval theology as "uncompromisingly christocentric" (Pelikan, The Growth of Medieval Theology, 116). Early medieval writers and artists struggled with and revelled in the paradox of Incarnation, brought to the fore at the crucifixion when through the body of Christ, the God who is infinite, incomprehensible and absolute is revealed in human form. In the Synoptic Gospels, the crucifixion accounts depict the cross as an instrument of torture and Christ's position between the two thieves acts to remind the reader of the suffering and shame endured by the divine in human form. In the Gospel of John, by contrast, it is Christ's role as the Word incarnate that is the primary focus and amongst Insular theologians, at least, John is renowned as the writer who reveals the hidden nature of the mysterious divine. The fourth Gospel centres upon the recognition of the incarnate, crucified Christ as the Son of God. Irish vernacular homilies draw upon this revelation and engage with the paradoxes of the crucifixion as both a singular event and continuing presence re-enacted in the Eucharist through which the core issues of suffering, salvation and sacrament emerge. This paper will examine these themes as they relate to the Middle Irish passions and homilies preserved in composite collections such as the fifteenth-century Leabhar Breac. It will argue that although the Middle Irish homiletic tradition is in many respects disjointed and diverse, yet within these varied works a coherent vision of crucifixion and salvation is offered in which God becomes man that man might once more become one with God.

The Leabhar Breac represents one of a number of late-medieval manuscripts in which eleventh- and twelfth-century homilies have been preserved together with a range of secular, religious and devotional tracts of various dates. The compilation opens with an account of the passion of an image of Christ in which, in a re-enactment of the Gospel account, the Jewish community in Beirut scourge and pierce a full-sized image of Christ from the side of which blood and water consequently flows. This account and others like it, such as the Paschal homilies derived from the Gospel of Nicodemus and the Passion of Longinus, are anonymous, apocryphal and (crucially) poorly edited. Nevertheless, the theology within them is subtle and sophisticated and when viewed alongside works such as the homily In cena domini (the Lord's Supper), which is found in the same manuscript, offers a coherent and complex Christology. The Lives of saints, particularly native saints, have received considerably more attention than their more strictly homiletic counterparts and their narrative and didactic functions prioritised. As this paper will demonstrate, however, in both, the theological exegesis and meditative function point in the same direction, drawing the reader/listener towards imitatio. These homilies are works of art designed to inspire devotion and draw humankind closer to God; to achieve this, humanity must rely upon the mediation of Christ, who clothed in human flesh the perfect God to become perfect man.

Munns, John

The Cross at the Heart of the Trinity: A Development in Anglo-Norman Art and Theology

The recently discovered wall paintings of St Mary's Church, Houghton-on-the-Hill in Norfolk have been variously dated by scholars between the ninth and mid-twelfth centuries and include the earliest extant example of the Gnadenstuhl image of the Holy Trinity. Beginning with Houghton, this paper will explore the origins and significance of those developments in eleventh- and twelfth-century Trinitarian imagery which introduce into its heart an image of the crucified Christ. The image's origins will be located firmly within the Anglo-Norman artistic milieu and related to the theological developments in the doctrine of the Atonement pioneered by St Anselm (1033-1109). The paper will also examine the Houghton image itself and make the case for a date of c.1091-1100. An image of the Trinity – let alone the apparently innovative Gnadenstuhl – in the centre of a painting of the Last Judgment seems to be unique; its presence in a small, rural Norfolk parish church is more intriguing still, and a possible explanation will be sought in the dedication of Norwich Cathedral (begun 1096) to the Holy Trinity and its relationship to the Abbaye de la Trinité de Fécamp. Whilst speculative, a plausible case can in turn be made for Fécamp as the probable site of the Gnadenstuhl's genesis, and its significance for the founder of Norwich Cathedral (Herbert de Losinga, Bishop of Norwich 1090/91-1119) then becomes a possible explanation for the image's dissemination throughout his recently re-built and re-dedicated diocese.

Murray, Griffin

Irish crucifixion plaques: a Reassessment

This paper examines the dating, function, and iconography of eight Irish, cast, copper-alloy, appliqué plaques bearing representations of the crucifixion. Usually referred to as 'crucifixion plaques', they were first published together as a corpus by Dr Peter Harbison in 1980. His paper is the most detailed study so far completed on the series and his original dating of them to around 1100 is followed here. However, since then, the provenance of two plaques has been rediscovered and two additional plaques, now with provenances, have been added to the corpus. A re-assessment of the series is, therefore, needed.

It now seems unlikely that all of the plaques were produced at Clonmacnoise, as Harbison originally suggested, and the additional evidence has allowed for a regrouping. While Harbison's Clonmacnoise and 'Dungannon' (or Tynan) groups are retained in this study, they are in a modified form. On the basis of style and iconography, a third group, labelled the Killallon group, has been identified, while two other plaques stand alone. These groupings appear to be geographically distinct from one another and it is argued that they are products of different workshops.

Furthermore, in light of other new evidence, it is argued that these plaques were originally attached to large wood and metal altar crosses. In such a context the importance of their iconography cannot be overstated, with their emphasis on both the passion and resurrection of Christ. Slight differences in the iconography of the plaques suggest that different iconographical models were relied upon by the different workshops that created them and this is compared to pre-existing and contemporary crucifixion iconography in a range of different media found both within and outside of Ireland.

Neuman de Vegvar, Carol

The Blythburgh Tablet: Envisioning the Wounds of Christ

The Blythburgh tablet is half of an eighth-century writing diptych made of whalebone. On one side it is carved out to contain a rectangular wax-filled writing surface. On the other side, presumably the outer surface of the diptych, it bears a cross in low relief interlace. At the ends of the cross arms and at their intersection are a total of five rivets with gilded heads, which appear as golden circles demarcating a quincunx. Found on the site of the Anglo-Saxon church at Blythburgh, Suffolk, one of the richest Anglo-Saxon manors mentioned in Domesday Book, the tablet is clearly ecclesiastical in its find context; in a comment to Leslie Webster, noted in her entry on the tablet in the Making of England catalogue, Michael Lapidge suggested that the tablet might be part of a liturgical diptych, listing both ecclesiastics and laity whose names were to be remembered in the prayers of the community. The medium and ornament of the tablet suggest that Lapidge's assessment is correct. The tablet is made of whalebone, a high-prestige medium used for caskets both for the church, as is probably the case for the Gandersheim Casket, and for exchange between the church and the laity, as for the Franks Casket. The slabs of whalebone used to make the caskets and the Blythburgh tablet, because of their size and consistency of quality, must have come from the larger deep-water whales, of which few are likely to have stranded in eastern England in this period. Further, the material of the Blythburgh tablet is not only rare itself but unusual for a writing tablet: most classical and early medieval writing tablets are made of wood. The Blythburgh tablet's high-prestige material puts it closer to the ivory diptychs used in late antiquity to announce consulships and other high offices; an appropriate medium for a liturgical object designed to assist in the commemoration of the community's honoured dead and assist with prayers at their salvation. The cross on the exterior of the tablet places the names on the interior of the tablet in close proximity to and under the protection of this holy sign, just as John Higgitt suggested for the proximity of the cross to the names of the dead in carved inscriptions as at Deerhurst. The exterior cross is also particularly appropriate to its function as a liturgical diptych. The cross with its endlessly interlacing knotwork suggests both the historical wellspring and the future eternity of salvation. Meanwhile the quincunx of gilded rivet heads suggests the wounds of Christ's body without the display of the actual corpus. This simultaneous presence and absence allow the viewer to envision Christ on the cross while at the same time contemplating the eternal and divine aspect of his person. Further, it invites the viewer to imagine Christ's death and resurrection together as the vehicles of the salvation of those whose names were inscribed on the inside of the diptych.

Ní Ghrádaigh, Jenifer

Romanesque Crucifixion Imagery in Ireland

One of the most emotive sculptures to survive from medieval Ireland is a stone head of Christ from Inis Cealtra, Co. Clare, recovered during archaeological excavation of the site. Almost life-size, this solitary fragment of a crucifixion image shows the suffering Christ, dignified but sorrowing. But what of its context? Three churches on the island have twelfth-century Romanesque detailing, and the foundation was closely allied with the Munster kings, the Uí Briain, who sponsored church reform at the Synod of Cashel in 1101. Moreover, an intact freestanding stone cross from the site, dated by inscription to before 1111, is the first indicator of revived interest in free-standing stone crosses in Ireland since their tenth-century floruit. Was this sculpture of Christ also part of a high cross, or was it incorporated into the external façade, or internal setting of one of the churches in some manner?

Evidence for the liturgical or extra-liturgical use of the crucified image of Christ on his cross in twelfth-century Ireland is limited, but such as does exist suggests intense interactions and encounters, both with laity and clergy. The best documented image is the crucifixion from Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin. This indeed uttered, according to Gerald of Wales, when called upon to do so in scorn by one of the parties to an oath of which it had been the witness. Perhaps more striking yet was its ritual humiliation in the clamor of 1197 celebrated by John Cumin, archbishop of Dublin, in an attempt to force the king to address his grievances; an event uniquely recorded by Roger of Howden. The crucifixion, which bore 'an expressive figure of Christ', was laid on the floor amongst thorns. On the sixth day it went into agony, its face reddened as it perspired, and tears dropped from its eyes. Such active miracles bespeak a crucifixion which bears comparison, not merely materially (clearly it was of polychromed wood) but also performatively, with the famous Volto Santo at Lucca.

Examining the range of Romanesque crucifixion imagery in Ireland, it is clear that in the twelfth century a new interest was arising in such emotive and expressive depictions. Irish craftsmen were famed for their skill in woodcraft, and expected to be adept in both stone and woodcarving. It is likely, then, that the stone crosses, erected for external use, represent only a small proportion of the range and, indeed, the scale, of sculpture present in the newly magnificent churches, with their now elaborately-accoutered clerics and bishops. Amongst such splendour, images of Christ were not neglected. Interestingly, however, their distribution is largely confined to regions which did not contain tenth-century high crosses, thus suggesting continuing dialogue with older traditions. This paper will place these existing stone images in this broader artistic context, as well as exploring the remaining evidence for their now-lost wooden counterparts.

O'Reilly, Jennifer

The Mystery of the Cross and the Identity of Christ

The figural representation of the crucifixion, unlike the symbolic depiction of the cross, survives in very few manuscripts of early Irish origin or influence. They span a long chronological period, however, and include the earliest known examples of an iconography whose essential features are widely preserved, sometimes with variants and additions, in later Irish metalwork and stone sculpture.

This paper considers the context, function and possible sources of the early manuscript images of the crucifixion and, in particular, the Christology expressed by their distinctive form. The discussion of an iconography so closely identified with 'the ends of the earth' offers a contribution to the current re-evaluation of received notions of centre and periphery in the early Insular period and raises some of the general issues involved in interpreting the complex relationships between text and image, form and meaning, which will be addressed from various perspectives during the conference.

Parker, Elizabeth

Christ on the Cross in Antelami's Parma Deposition

No one approach can account for all the iconographical elements in the marble relief of the Descent from the cross in Parma Cathedral, nor the fact that so many of its elements, while traditional, are depicted in such unusual ways. Identified by inscription as the work of Benedetto Antelami in 1178, this work has been much discussed in the literature. So far, however, there has never been a thorough examination of the image from a liturgical point of view. This paper offers such a liturgical analysis in order to try to explain, first of all, just why the central image of the Christus patiens in a monumental depiction of a Deposition scene, in itself rare in twelfth-century Italian art, is here uniquely embedded within a ceremonial alignment of figures from a crucifixion. A reading of the image against the allegorical interpretation of the mass by Amalarius of Metz, the basis for later medieval commentaries, identifies Antelami's centurion, holy women, as well as Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, as they represent differing roles assumed by the celebrant, deacon and subdeacons at what is now called the "little elevation" at the end of the Consecration prayer. Antelami's figures of Ecclesia and Synagoga also relate to Amalarius interpretation, in twelfth-century terms. Parma's liturgy is known only from the Ordinarium Ecclesiae Parmensis, dating from the early fifteenth century. A reading of the image against the Ordinarium in light of twelfth-century service books, however, permits a reconstruction of a liturgical context for Antelami's Deposition in contemporary celebrations of the mass in Holy Week, especially on Maundy Thursday, the climax of the liturgy of reconciliation for the day that marks the end of Lent. Antelami's unique depiction of the Angel Gabriel's holding Christ's right hand to the Virgin's cheek alludes to the promised redemption for the penitent through Christ's sacrificial death. The interaction of Gabriel and the Virgin contains a further allusion to Christ's incarnation through the Annunciation, suggesting that some form of the drama famously performed on this feast day in the fifteenth century was already celebrated in Antelami's time. Moreover, extra-liturgical dramas for Good Friday and Easter, which had developed from Amalarius's allegorical interpretations by the tenth century, and had entered the Roman liturgy for Holy Week by the late eleventh or twelfth century, are also reflected in Antelami's composition. The description in Parma's Ordinarium of the Depositio Hostiae, representing Christ's Descent from the cross and burial in a sepulchre located behind the high altar, has the bishop rather than the deacon represent Joseph of Arimathea. The Visitatio Sepulchri, the visit of the holy women to the empty tomb, took place at Matins before the public celebration of the Easter Mass. Antelami's image reflects the unique enactment of the drama in the Ordinarium involving three choir members representing the Marys and a fourth representing John the Evangelist. John's placement, in front of the holy women and behind the Virgin and Ecclesia, also reinforces the theme of witness fundamental to this devotional image.

Pulliam, Heather

Gilding the Lily: Ornamenting the Crucified Christ in Insular Art

This paper proposes to investigate two aspects of ornament in Insular depictions of the crucifixion, specifically the unusual colouring of Christ's body and cross in manuscripts and the decorative emphasis given to his chest in metalwork and sculpture. It argues that these features are not merely ornamental but serve as an integral and meaningful aspect of the iconography.

Although discussing Byzantine art, Liz James and Bissera Pentcheva have demonstrated the advantages of rethinking our approach to colour, highlighting the importance of perception and performance. In terms of Insular art history, with the exception of scientific reports from pigment analyses and George Henderson's significant but limited study of purple, colour is only rarely mentioned and yet, Insular manuscripts employ a complex, idiosyncratically applied and frequently non-naturalistic colour palette. Looking at literary descriptions, the manuscripts' texts, colour terms (Celtic, Anglo-Saxon and Latin) and comparative imagery from Carolingian and Byzantine artworks, as well as later Irish and Anglo-Saxon manuscripts and metalwork, the first part of this paper addresses the transformative quality of colour in Insular depictions of the crucifixion. The primary objects considered in terms of colour are the Durham Gospels (Durham MS A.ii.17), St. Gall Codex 51, Book of Kells (Dublin, Trinity College Library MS 58) and Lindisfarne Gospels (British Library, cotton MS Nero D.iv).

The second half of the paper focuses upon the Irish high crosses and Insular metalwork, which frequently draw attention to Christ's chest via a range of decorative motifs such as spirals, X's, peltae, bosses and indentations. The ubiquitous presence of Longinus piercing Christ in such images further accentuates Christ's torso. Through an examination of literary descriptions and terminology such as the Latin arca, Celtic lorica, and Anglo-Saxon breasthord, the paper suggests that these images delineate the relationship between the Eucharist, the Gospels and the fons vitae. Additionally, discussions of both colour and design raise the question as to what is meant by 'Christ on the cross.' Does this necessitate a figurative presence—or are bodily traces and abstract symbols sufficiently indicative?

In its analysis of colour and design emphasis, the paper explores the performative aspects of ornament by considering how composition, structure, materials and—in the case of the high crosses and Pictish cross-slabs—landscape and weather might have determined the audience's perception and interaction with images of Christ on the cross. The paper concludes that the distinctive colour and pectoral emphasis found in such images serve as unique expressions of Christ's suffering and triumph.

Ryan, Salvador

The Legacy of the Early Medieval Christ on the Cross: The Case of Irish Bardic Religious Poetry, c.1200-c.1600.

One of the key questions addressed by scholars who work on the figure of the crucified Christ in the Middle Ages is the following: what led to the shift in emphasis in the high and late Middle Ages from a victorious and triumphant figure on the cross to an emaciated and tortured one, and was this shift actually as pronounced as is often suggested? In recent years, much valuable work has been accomplished by scholars such as Celia Martin Chazelle, who has examined depictions of Christ's passion during the Carolingian period, and Rachel Fulton, who has focussed on the longer period of transition from the early through high Middle Ages.1 The figure of the triumphant and victorious Christ of the earlier period can be even more starkly contrasted with the emaciated and tortured body of the even later period which we call the late Middle Ages, and which might be best exemplified in the explosion of blood piety in northern Europe especially, a phenomenon that has recently been comprehensively examined by Caroline Walker Bynum.2 However, while this broad shift in emphasis in the art and literature of Christ's passion is quite easily recognisable, what is not always as apparent is the resilience of earlier models of the crucified Christ and their persistence (sometimes under the radar) right into the late medieval period. In this paper, I propose to demonstrate how this is certainly the case for Irish bardic religious poetry, composed between the thirteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Bardic poetry treating of Christ's passion and death in the period c.1200-c.1600 clearly evidences the ongoing adoption of emerging English and continental passion devotions. So one finds within the poems of Gaelic Irish versifiers evidence of the flowering of well-known late medieval cults such as those of the Five Wounds of Christ, the Arma Christi or Instruments of Christ's Passion, and an increasing interest in discovering the number of wounds suffered by Christ such as is most famously found attached to prayers such as the Fifteen Oes. The Charter of Christ, which imagines the body of Christ on the cross as a charter on which he writes peace terms, also appears regularly: Christ's blood being conceived of as the ink with which the charter was written, his skin the parchment, the nails the pens and, of course, his heart wound as the ink well from which the saving ink is drawn. Such contemporary manifestations of passion piety one might expect to find in late medieval passion poetry, whether Gaelic Irish or not. However, side by side with this imagery there is also to be found much from an earlier period – the pre-Anselmian idea of the 'devil's rights' for instance, the concept of Christ as a warrior king (this warrior will also, in Rosemary Woolf's words, evolve into a 'lover-knight' of sorts within the bardic corpus) and the continuing relevance of the harrowing of hell sequence. One finds, then, a great deal of earlier imagery, rooted often in early patristic writings, sitting comfortably (and sometimes not so comfortably) with later devotional emphases within individual poems. This paper will explore, then, the legacy of this early medieval imagery for Christ on the cross and its continuing influence on one body of late medieval devotional literature: Irish bardic poetry.

Schüppel, Katharina Christa

Medieval Painted Crosses in Italy: Perspectives of Research

Eighty years have passed since the publication of »La croce dipinta italiana e l'iconografia della passione« by Evelyn Sandberg-Vavalà. To this day, the book that appeared in print in Verona in 1929 is the key text regarding medieval painted crosses, i.e. cross shaped panels of wood bearing the painted image of the crucified Christ. Amazingly, the complex and rich material seems to have been almost irrelevant to research on medieval crucifixes in the following decades – instead, we find the painted crosses at the margins of medieval panel painting, two prominent examples being the primarily stylistic examinations of the painted crosses by Cimabue for Santa Croce and by Giotto for Santa Maria Novella in Florence, which aim to localise both works chronologically within the oeuvre of their famous authors.

More recently, several attempts have been made to regain the painted crosses for research on crucifixes. One of them was my project »Painted Liturgy. Medieval Painted Crosses in Italy from the 12th to the 15th centuries«, developed during a postdoctoral stay at the Bibliotheca Hertziana in Rome, Max-Planck-Institute for Art History, from 2004 to 2006, including the conference »La Croce dipinta nel Medioevo« (November 2005).

My paper offers a survey of the current status of research and relevant research questions, which have shifted from traditional topics like style and iconography to questions of function (liturgical and paraliturgical uses of painted crosses). It discusses the different types of painted crosses (with gold ground, with small scenes picturing the passion of Christ, with textile ground, cut out along the outlines of the body of Christ, representing the dead or the living Christ) in their relation to cross reliquaries, icons and to contemporary crucifixes in the medium of sculpture.

Moreover, the paper seeks to free the intriguing topic of the croci dipinte from its former fixation on Tuscany. Considered as a whole, the painted crosses first of all seem an »Italian« phenomenon (many more painted crosses are preserved on the Italian peninsula than in any other European country). In Italy in turn, Tuscany and Umbria are the regions where most painted crosses can be found. It is worthwhile, however, to call attention to some fascinating pieces in Central and Southern Italy, which are interesting for their early date, their high artistic quality (reflecting various Byzantine influences) and their specific context: the crucifixes in Casape, from Sant'Agata sui due Golfi (today in Naples), in Salerno (Museo Diocesano, fig. 1-2), in Santa Maria di Tremiti and in the cathedral San Pietro in Fondi.

This change of perspectives corresponds with new observations as – for example – the unexpected vicinity of the very early crucifix from Rosano near Florence (late twelfth century, examined by the restorers and art historians of the Opificio delle Pietre dure, Florence, Italy) to contemporary panel painting in Rome. This new perception is equivalent to a revaluation of Central Italy's role in the history of painted crosses and relativizes the traditional and never questioned idea of the umbro-tuscan origin of the painted crosses in favor of a new decentralization.

Van Tongeren, Louis

Imagining the cross in ritual and text: the celebration of Good Friday in the eighth to tenth centuries

According to tradition, the cross upon which Jesus died was found in the fourth century by Helena, the mother of Constantine, and soon after pieces of the cross were disseminated as relics across the East and West. These cross relics were not only valued as objects of private devotion, but for a few days a year they were also part of the public cult. It was in Jerusalem during the fourth century that the relic was first displayed and offered to the faithful for veneration on Good Friday and on the 14th September, the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. During the seventh century the liturgical commemoration of the cross gradually developed and liturgical forms with chants, prayers, readings and rituals that focussed upon the theme of the cross emerged. The principal feast days of this cult were: Good Friday, the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross on September 14 and the Invention of the Cross on May 3. A variety of sources are available in which the symbolism and signification of the cross might be identified. A major source besides iconography, poetry and theological treatises is to be found in the commemoration of the cross preserved in liturgical rituals and texts. On account of the considerable body of material, I shall limit this study to the liturgy of Good Friday.

The origins of the Good Friday veneration of the cross can be traced back to fourth-century Jerusalem, so I shall, by way of introduction, dwell briefly upon these origins before directing my attention to the West. The liturgy in the West during the early Middle Ages developed from a variety of local practices into a largely uniform standard, with the result that the Good Friday liturgy of the period reveals a multifaceted picture. There were various indigenous traditions and local liturgical practices that influenced each other over the course of time until around the first millennium they finally disappeared or merged with the Roman-Frankish-Germanic liturgy that would predominate in the West. This diversity of practice and the gradual emergence of a uniform celebration of the Good Friday liturgy will be discussed and the various developments relating to the image and meaning assigned to the cross will be considered. This will be achieved by reference to the liturgical forms of the native Roman, Gallic and Spanish traditions as well as certain unusual forms from the ninth and tenth centuries that are considered to be important milestones in the development of the Good Friday celebrations in the liturgy of the West.

Veelenturf, Kees

The Open Eyes of the Crucified Christ

The rendition of the crucifixion in early medieval Irish art is, as in the contemporaneous art of the Continent, no straightforward visualization of this event as recorded in the biblical passion narratives. This may seem to be a hackneyed truism, but it nevertheless is prone to analysis and explication. This paper will focus on one paradoxical element in Irish crucifixion scenes, albeit certainly not confined to Irish specimens, viz. the rendering of the open eyes of the already dead Crucified.

This feature cannot be considered without involving another seeming inconsistency within crucifixion scenes in sculpture, miniatures and metal plaques that displays another chronological divergence from the Gospel narrative: the simultaneousness of the depicted acts of lancer Longinus and sponge-bearer Stephaton.

In the past, scholarship has sought to explain these ostensible anomalies, not within the context of Insular art, but in the earliest crucifixion scenes emanating from Early Christian and Byzantine art. A point of departure in discussion from the 1950's was the well-known crucifixion miniature in the Gospels of Rabbula (586), the contradictory aspects of which were then scrutinized by Aloys Grillmeier. The Rabbula miniature displays an open-eyed Christ, and both Longinus and Stephaton perform their deeds. Grillmeier's findings, published in a slim but admirably researched volume (1956), which emphasized the expression of the double nature of Christ in the scenes discussed and taking recourse to a text in the Physiologus, generated a great deal of appreciation and criticism. The author was triggered inter alia by a study by René-Jean Hesbert, who had studied the motif of the piercing of Christ's side after his death on the cross in bible, patristic writings, iconography, liturgy, and in liturgical music (1940). Grillmeier's admiration of Hesbert's meticulous study was as evident as his rejection of the solution that Hesbert had offered – a chronological inversion in the Tenebrae responsory of Holy Week, and the interpolation of John 19:34 in Matthew 27 in several bible manuscript traditions. A similar assessment by its reviewers befell Grillmeier's own study.

The discussion following the publication of this book more or less came to a standstill after the Inaugural-Dissertation (1963) by Reiner Haussherr, in which he examined the iconography of the dead Christ on the cross and its implications in order to analyze the Gero crucifix in the Cathedral of Cologne. Haussherr reviewed the previous discussion, and provided a survey of crucifix types and crucifixion scenes from medieval and Byzantine art, with much attention to theological and other implications.

Starting from these studies, this paper ventures to re-examine the arguments, that may be valid or not, for renditions of the open-eyed Crucified in early medieval Irish art. Although Hesbert's argumentation was discarded by Grillmeier and Haussherr, and not unjustified within the context of their studies, it seems evident that much of it may be quite valid for the early medieval Irish situation.

Whelan, Thomas

The Cross in Ninth Century Irish Liturgical Sources

The Stowe Missal supplies a small but significant witness to a theological understanding of the passion and death of Christ, as well a theology of the cross. The manuscript itself remains the best early witness to how liturgy was celebrated in some parts of Ireland in the first part of the ninth century, and contains, along with some important prayer texts, an early example of the explicationes missae (allegorical explanations of the Mass) that will later be found on the continent.

There are a few interesting references to the passion/cross/crucifixion in the Stowe Missal. The explicatio Missae, among other things, details the fractio panis (breaking of the bread) and the arrangement on certain feasts of 64 particles in preparation for distribution of communion, in the shape of the Irish 'high cross'.

Context of Manuscript:

This brief study will need to locate the Stowe in the context of other early Irish liturgical texts, most particularly that of the seventh-century Antiphonary of Bangor. These texts describe the penitential practice of crossfigell (not unique to Ireland), which is the praying (mostly of psalms), often for extended periods of time, while standing with hands extended in cruciform shape. This practice is contemporaneous with the Stowe.

The extent of the influences of Gallican, Spanish and other continental sources on the Stowe will need to be named so as to further contextualise the study. However, the Stowe Missal, irrespective of its continental influences, is representative of the theological thinking of its time and therefore justifies a serious investigation.

Context of Theology:

The Stowe Missal emerged at the beginnings of a period when private devotion was coming into greater prominence in the Irish church. There seemingly was a sense of sin and Christian anthropology that was particular to Ireland: the human person needs protection from evil powers, as also from the heavy burden of personal sin. This explains the particular emphasis on penitential practices that came from Ireland into the later continental practices.

It would seem that the text of the Stowe Missal presents the passion/cross as a life-giving and necessary prelude to the resurrection and as statio which only finds it meaning in the light of the resurrection, and is therefore salvific to the extent that it points to something beyond itself. However, this is tempered by the fact that Irish theology did not give as much importance to the humanity of Christ as to his divinity – except when considering the incarnation and the passion where the physical aspects are described in graphic detail. This emphasis of the divinity of Christ over and against his humanity probably has its origins in a reaction to the Arian heresy (found on the continent). The passion / cross in these Irish liturgical sources presents Christ as both victim and victor. High crosses from the same era present Christ, not as the suffering servant, but as the triumphant victor. The findings may require that an early medieval Irish liturgical theology of resurrection will need to be re-stated in a more nuanced way.3