Processional Cross

France or Italy, 14th cent.
Silver, gilt, enamel, h. 25 cm

Noble materials

in ecclesiastical use

Beautiful to look at

Canon law stipulates that objects for ritual use such as the chalice and paten (the shallow dish for the communion wafer), altar candlesticks and processional crosses are to be made either of precious metals such as gold and silver or of bronze or gilded metal. Since the middle of the 12th century the champlevé technique was used for the pictorial decoration of liturgical items, as is the case with our processional cross. Those looking at the cross were attracted by the bold, bright and luminous colours that formed a contrast to the gold.

The Old Testament

The New Testament

Tradition of the sacrificial lamb

Very early on, events in the Old Testament were interpreted in the biblical commentaries of the four Church Fathers as a sign of the Act of Salvation in the New Testament. This is also true of the Agnus Dei, the Lamb of God. A symbol of the sacrificial death of Christ in the New Testament, it stands in the tradition of the sacrificial animal in the Old Testament where it refers to the Passover Lamb, sacrificed the night the Israelites departed from Egypt. Depicted as the Paschal Lamb with the vexillum (pennant), as seen on our processional cross, it is a symbol of the resurrection of Christ.

The fathers of the church

egregii doctores ecclesiae

Pope Bonface VIII.

The four Great Church Fathers in the Western Church are St Augustine who was appointed Bishop of Aleppo in 394, St Gregory who became pope in 590, from when on he was known as Gregory the Great, St Jerome, the cardinal who lived as a hermit in the 4th century, and St Ambrose who became Bishop of Milan in 374. The were named egregii doctores ecclesiae – teachers of the Church – by Pope Boniface VIII in 1295.