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Peter Springer

[Lat. calix: ‘drinking vessel’]

Liturgical implement in which the eucharistic wine is offered, consecrated and distributed to communicants. Other names for it are scyphus, crater, proculum and fons. In the Early Christian period the same materials were used for the eucharistic chalice as for secular drinking vessels: glass, rock crystal, hardstones and wood, horn and ivory, but especially precious and base metals. This diversity reflects the lack of restrictions governing the materials to be used for its manufacture until the Carolingian period. Thus most surviving chalices from pre-Carolingian and Carolingian times—even such a splendid example as the Tassilo Chalice (c. 769–88; Kremsmünster, Stiftskirche, Schatzkam.)—were still made from gilt-copper. From the late 8th century, however, synodal decrees repeatedly forbade the use of materials such as glass, wood, copper, bronze, ivory, horn and pewter. The chalice was instead to be made at least from silver, with the inside of the bowl gilded. (The same injunctions were applicable to the ...


William M. Voelkle

Portable altar–reliquary (New York, Morgan Lib.), made c. 1156 for the Stavelot Abbey in the Ardennes, Belgium and decorated with both Mosan and Byzantine enamels (see fig.). The reliquary is named after the Benedictine abbey headed by Wibald of Stavelot, its enlightened abbot from 1130 to 1158. It is the first of a series of Mosan reliquary triptychs containing portions of the True Cross. Of these, only the Stavelot Triptych contains scenes from the life of Constantine and the legend of the finding of the True Cross by Empress Helena, his mother. Although two commissions by Wibald are documented (the St Remaclus Retable, destroyed during the French Revolution, and the Head Reliquary of Pope Alexander of 1145; Brussels, Musées Royaux A. & Hist.), the Stavelot Triptych is not. Wibald may have been given both the cross relic and the two small Byzantine enamel triptychs displayed on the centre panel of the Stavelot Triptych during his diplomatic mission (...