crux gemmata

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Ardennes Cross

The name comes from the supposed origin of the Cross from monastery in the Luxembourg Ardennes. It is one of the few early medieval large crosses with gemstone jewelry.

The “Crux gemmata”, the technical term for crucifixes fitted with gems, since late antiquity was a sign of victory of Christ and His return at the end of times. The Early Middle Ages saw the cross as a symbol of Christ victorious over death. Only later it is a symbol of suffering and death of Jesus.

The Otto-Matilda Cross, one of the most fabulous pieces in the treasury of Essen Cathedral, Essen, North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany.

The crucified Christ stands above the serpent of Eden. An enamel plaque in the lowest terminal depicts the Abbess Matilda, on the left, and her brother, Otto, Duke of Swabia, on the right. Both wear regal clothing and present a processional cross–the Otto-Matilda Cross itself. Matilda commissioned this work for her monastery at Essen.