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Article

Alison Manges Nogueira

Monumental, marble paschal Candlestick of the late 12th to early 13th century with reliefs signed by Nicolaus de Angelo and Vassallettus now in S Paolo fuori le Mura, Rome. The imposing column (h. 5.6 m), adorned with six registers of reliefs and surmounted by a fluted candle holder, rests upon a base of sculpted lions, sphinxes, rams and female figures. The upper and lower reliefs bear vegetal and ornamental patterns while the three central registers portray Christ before Caiaphas, the Mocking of Christ, Christ before Pilate, Pilate Washing his Hands, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection and the Ascension. The culminating Easter scenes reflect the paschal candle’s function during the Easter season as a symbol of Christ resurrected, as evoked in an inscription on the base. A second fragmentary inscription refers to the unidentifiable patron’s desire for commemoration. A third inscription identifies Nicolaus de Angelo as the master sculptor and Petrus Vassallettus as playing a secondary role. Both were active in the second half of the 12th to the early 13th century and came from leading families of Roman sculptors: the Vassalletti and Cosmati (Nicolaus’s family). The candlestick is the only work signed by and securely attributed to Nicolaus and the scope of his contribution remains uncertain. A plausible theory attributes the base and first register to Petrus, based upon similarities to works signed by him and ascribed to his family, such as the cloister of S Giovanni in Laterano in Rome and the narthex of S Lorenzo fuori le Mura in Rome. Nicolaus probably executed the Christological scenes, distinguishable for their more dynamic, expressive figures and decorative chisel work, and appropriate for the master sculptor because of their centrality and significance. Early Christian sarcophagi and Carolingian ivories may have provided models for the figural types. This form of paschal candlestick was probably inspired by Roman columnar monuments carved with triumphal scenes....

Article

Don Denny

Numerical list of concordant passages in the Gospels, devised in the early 4th century by the historian Eusebios of Caesarea. Such tables indicate passages to be found in all four Gospels, those found in two or three of the Gospels and those unique to a particular Gospel. In medieval manuscripts they appear as a series of pages, varying from seven to as many as nineteen, placed at the front of Gospel books and often included, preceding the Gospels, in full Bibles. It was customary to surround them with ornament and, despite the wide geographical and chronological range of this practice, the basic decorative format remained fairly constant. The tables are divided and framed by representations of architectural columns surmounted by arcades or, occasionally, pediments; pictorial matter is concentrated in the upper part of the design, which might contain decorative and symbolic bird and plant motifs as well as more explicit illustrative features, such as the Evangelist symbols or the Twelve Apostles. In Eastern manuscripts the tables are sometimes preceded by two or three pages of introductory text, similarly framed by architectural designs, and a further page of related ornament (e.g. a tempietto) might be included at the beginning or end....

Article

Casket  

John N. Lupia

A small case or lidded box for storing various objects. (For reliquary caskets see Reliquary, §I, 1 and Romanesque, §VII.) Among the early types are nuptial caskets, which functioned as courtship gifts or marriage chests, miniature precursors of the Italian Cassone. They were popular from the 4th century ad and were usually made of ivory or wood. An outstanding Early Christian example in silver is Projecta’s Casket (4th century; London, BM), which combines a Christian inscription and secular scenes. In the Byzantine period ivory caskets were produced with rosettes, scrollwork and delicately carved figural reliefs (see Early Christian and Byzantine art, §VII, 5). About 50 complete examples survive, including the 10th- or 11th-century Veroli Casket (London, V&A). Some of the Byzantine caskets (e.g. Troyes, Trésor Cathédrale) appear to have had an ecclesiastical use, as storage boxes for pyxes, incense boats and other small liturgical utensils. Secular ivory caskets were produced in ...

Article

John Osborne

Underground burial complex employed principally between c. 200 ce and the 6th century, notably in Rome. They were used by Christian, Jewish, and various pagan communities, all of whom practiced inhumation.

The term catacomb is derived from the Greek name for the area near the church of S. Sebastiano on the Via Appia south of Rome (see Catacombs (Rome)). This became a center for the veneration of SS. Peter and Paul, and by the 4th century was also used as a Christian cemetery known throughout the Middle Ages as the coemeterium ad catacumbas, today the catacomb of St. Sebastian. Similar cemeteries, now known generically as “catacombs,” are also found in central and southern Italy, Sicily, Malta, North Africa, and Egypt, generally in areas where the rock is soft and tunneling easy. In keeping with the Roman prohibition of burial within the city, they are usually located outside the walls of urban centers....

Article

Spanish and Latin American cathedrals are distinguished by their broad hall-like interiors, their gilded and polychrome Retables, the central position of the enclosed choir (coro), and the pairs of monumental organs that flank each side of the choir. The construction of twin organs reached its apogee in the middle of the 18th century. Typically, these organs have two façades, one facing towards the choir and one facing out towards the lateral aisles. The earliest extant example of this design is found in the double-façade organ (1469) of the cathedral of Saragossa. This organ is noted for its red-and-gold Gothic case.

The technical development of the Spanish organ, though distinct in detail, parallels the general trends found throughout Europe. The 17th, and particularly, the 18th century saw the modest size of cathedral organs evolve into large and complex machines. The enlarging of the sound palette (organ stops) resulted in an increase in the space needed to house the pipes. The position of the organ in Spanish cathedrals—in the nave arches—intrinsically constrained the organ builders’ ability to expand the depth of the instrument. The solution was to stack the internal division of the organ vertically, and most innovatively, externally. Organ cases grew higher and wider, eventually occupying the entire space of the arch. Examples of this are the monumental mirror-organs of the Andalusian cathedrals of Seville (...

Article

John Lowden

Byzantine illuminated manuscript (Moscow, Hist. Mus. MS. D.29). It is a small Marginal Psalter (195×150 mm) of 169 folios, in which broad spaces were left blank on the outer edges of the pages to be filled with numerous unframed illustrations, glossing the biblical text in various ways (see Early Christian and Byzantine art, §V, 2, (iv), (f)). The original text and captions to the illustrations were elegantly written in a small uncial script around the mid-9th century ad. In the 12th century, however, most of the text was crudely overwritten in minuscule, giving the book a messy appearance. This evidence of continued use over a long period is also reflected in the state of the miniatures, many of which are heavily worn and flaked, yet the manuscript is still more complete than two other roughly contemporary Psalters (Paris, Bib. N., MS. grec 20; Mt Athos, Pantokrator Monastery, MS. 61)....

Article

Robert G. Calkins

As applied to the Christian liturgy, a book containing the words and music for the chants sung during the celebration of Mass or the Divine Office. Several types of choir-book evolved during the Middle Ages. A Gradual contains all the chants sung by the choir during the celebration of the Mass. These normally include the antiphons for the Introit (opening phrase), Offertory, and Communion chants, as well as the gradual (an antiphon or response sung between the reading of the Epistle and Gospel), after which the book was named. The Gradual was usually written in large format so that it could be placed on a lectern in front of the choir and be read by all the members. Lines of musical notation usually alternate with those of the text and with dense passages of instructions, written in smaller script. The organization of the Gradual is similar to that of the ...

Article

Charles Tracy

Places in the choir of a church set aside for the daily use of the clergy. They are usually made of wood and are found only in churches of the Western tradition. Choir-stalls were essentially places for standing, the clergy being required to do so during most of the services. Each stall consists of a folding seat, turning on hinges or pivots, with a Misericord under it, a standard on each side with elbow rest, a wainscot backing and, sometimes, a canopy above. Some form of book desk was provided in front.

The daily task of the members of a cathedral chapter was the recitation of the Psalter, particular psalms being allocated to the different prebends. At Lincoln Cathedral the initial Latin verses allocated to each canon, over-painted in modern times, are still to be found on the stall backs. An absentee canon was expected to have a deputy, called a ‘vicar choral’, who was paid ‘stall wages’. The seating in the choir-stalls of a great church mirrored the hierarchy of the organization. It was stipulated in the manuals of customs, such as the Sarum Consuetudinary, written in the early 13th century. In medieval England the principal place of honour in a secular ...

Article

Marina Vidas

French illuminated manuscript (295×140 mm, 174 fols; Copenhagen, Kon. Bib., GKS 1606 4°), made in Paris c. 1230 with later additions. Its original textual components are: a Calendar, the Psalms, Canticles, Hymns, Litany, and Collects. In its present state the pictorial programme consists of 24 calendrical medallions representing the signs of the zodiac and the labours of the month and 24 Christological miniatures on burnished grounds, preceding the Psalter proper. The Psalter text is illuminated with eight historiated initials, of which six show Davidian subjects, as well as with many decorative initials and line endings. The manuscript is named after Princess Christina of Norway (1234–62), the daughter of Håkon IV (reg 1217–63), who in an early 14th-century inscription on the pastedown of the back cover is stated to have owned the Psalter. Manuscript evidence—the Cistercian saints in the Calendar, the Litany made for the use of the royal abbey of St‑Germain‑des‑Prés, the employment of three miniature painters who worked on the three-volume ...

Article

Covered, chalice-shaped liturgical vessel, used in churches of the Catholic (and some Orthodox) traditions to contain reserved, consecrated hosts.

The word ciborium is supposedly derived from kiborion, the seed-pod of the Egyptian water lily, which indicates its protective function; a derivation from the Latin cibus, food, has also been proposed. The basic type of ciborium consists of a broad-based foot, a stem with a knop, and a wide, rather shallow cup with a closely fitting cover. Examples are usually c. 400 mm high, although Late Gothic ciboria with tower-shaped covers, and some 19th-century ones from large churches, are over 600 mm in height. Although a sacral shrine, the ciborium is considered to be of secondary importance to the Chalice and paten, and it came into use much later. It is filled with the small hosts that are given to the faithful during communion, and which are consecrated together with the large host on the paten and the eucharistic wine. The ciborium and any consecrated particles it may contain are then reserved in an appropriate place; in the Roman Catholic Church this is now usually a tabernacle in the church, but in the Eastern churches it is customary to keep the ciborium in the sacristy (in late medieval Germany, the sacrament house was used). A burning votive lamp indicates its location. Before the Counter-Reformation of the 16th century, the term ciborium was also often applied to a ...

Article

G. van Hemeldonck

Monumental structure of wood, stone, or metal consisting of four or more columns supporting an ornamented roof; this is sometimes a cupola, as in the Byzantine tradition, or it may be pyramidal or a crossover pitched roof. The term is often used synonymously with baldacchino, although, strictly speaking, a ciborium is fixed, frequently on a raised base, while a baldacchino is movable (the most famous example—the Baldacchino built by Gianlorenzo Bernini and others in St Peter’s, Rome, in 1623–34 (see §2, (ii) below)—is in fact a fixed ciborium). Ciboria in a church were placed above altars and tabernacles portraying the throne of Christ, above the ambo where the Gospel was promulgated and above baptismal fonts and atrium springs where holy water was revered. Much later they were also placed above reliquaries and martyrs’ graves and, outside the church, above thrones, statues of the saints and above the cross of Golgotha. The purpose of the ciborium was to concentrate attention on the object of veneration or to protect this object either symbolically or actually. Small portable altars were sometimes placed under a ciborium of this type. Reigning monarchs were portrayed enthroned under a ciborium; this was intended to suggest that their secular power was received from God....

Article

Elizabeth C. Parker

Double-sided Latin cross (h. 577 mm, New York, Cloisters, 63.12) that is a masterpiece of Romanesque carving in walrus ivory. Its history is unknown before the 1950s, when it belonged to the art dealer Ante Topic-Mimara of Zagreb, formerly in Yugoslavia, from whom it was acquired for The Cloisters Collection by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1963. It is in excellent condition with the exception of the irregular break at the bottom of the shaft and the complete loss of the bottom terminal. These suggest wear caused from using different holders if it functioned both as a processional and an altar cross. Holes on the lower shaft and cross arm also suggest there was originally a corpus attached, despite the marked projection of the central roundel.

Some 99 figures and 66 biblical inscriptions in Latin enhance the unusually complex iconography of the cross. The obverse, characterized as the Tree of Life by truncated branches on the shaft and cross arms, depicts ...

Article

Pippin Michelli

Decorated comb, usually of ivory, used ceremonially by the celebrant before Mass in both Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches. The ritual combing of priests’ hair may have begun when Christianity became the Roman state religion early in the 4th century ad, but evidence is lacking. Most combs survive with insufficient context to prove their liturgical use, but all those likely to have been so used have a similar form: they are made of a single rectangular piece with teeth along both long edges, and the quadrangle or lunette at the centre is often carved with Christian motifs (see fig.). Many such combs survive (Swoboda listed 77). They have been found in 5th-century catacombs; a new one was placed in St Cuthbert’s tomb early in the 11th century (Durham Cathedral, Treasury); they were still being made in the 12th century; and references to their use appear in ecclesiastical rituals until the 16th century. They are still used in the Greek rite. Documentation is late and scarce. In the Carolingian period ...

Article

Iris Kockelbergh

Closet-like piece of furniture used in the Roman Catholic Church and some other liturgically ‘high’ denominations for auricular confession. Confessionals are always made out of wood, since it was thought inappropriate to use more costly materials for non-liturgical church furnishings. Several types of confessional were in existence during the Middle Ages. In the 12th century the priest was seated while the penitent knelt in front of him. From the 14th century in Sweden, where men lived alongside women in double monasteries, grilles were inserted in special recesses in the choir walls to prevent the priest from coming into contact with the sisters. The first confessional rooms, with a grille opening into the church, appeared in Portugal in the early 15th century (e.g. at Guarda Cathedral); a century later (1517–20), at S Maria, Belém, in Lisbon, the confessional room was extended to a double alcove, one for the priest and another for the penitent, connected by a grille. In the 16th century in northern Europe confessional grilles were inserted in the choir aisle windows so that confession could be made from outside the church. During the Reformation, after a number of disputes over the objectivity of confession, regulations for the sacrament were drawn up at the Council of Milan (...

Article

Term for one of the dated series of ivory diptychs (a hinged pair of oblong panels) that were issued by consuls of the Roman Empire on their succession to office. The earliest surviving consular diptych is that of Flavius Felix, consul of the West in ad 428 (one leaf survives in Paris, Bib. N., Cab. Médailles); the series ended c. ad 541, when the Byzantine emperor Justinian I (reg 527–65) abolished the civil consulate. One side of each diptych panel was carved, usually with the name, cursus honorum (list of offices), and likeness of the official in question, which provide chronological, prosopographical, and ideological information. Many of these diptychs were later used for Christian purposes.

J. Osborne: ‘A Drawing of a Consular Diptych of Anastasius (A.D. 517) in the Collection of Cassiano dal Pozzo’, Echos Monde Class., 35/10 (1991), pp. 237–42C. Bertelli: ‘Un dittico “Longobardo”’, Acta ad archaeologicam et artium historiam pertinentia...

Article

Heather Pulliam

French illuminated manuscript (Amiens, Bib. Mun., MS. 18) containing the Gallican Psalter, canticles, litanies, and Fides Athanasii in Latin, in Maurdramnus script and made in or near Corbie c. 800. Elaborate initials, approximately 60 of which contain human figures, begin each psalm and canticle. The illumination fuses Merovingian, Byzantine, Sasanian, Insular, Lombard, and Carolingian styles. The iconography is multivalent and ranges from biblical persons to monks at prayer. Like the Utrecht and Stuttgart Psalters, the Corbie Psalter’s complex word–image relationships offer a rare glimpse into early approaches to Psalter illustration. The manuscript, along with the Vespasian Psalter, St Petersburg Bede, Gellone Sacramentary, and the Book of Kells, provides a significant witness to the development of historiated initials and predicts forms and motifs found in Romanesque initials.

The initials of Psalms 1, 50, and 100 are given special emphasis, suggesting a tripartite division of the psalms in the Irish manner. Scholars have also associated the Corbie Psalter with two manuscripts in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris (MS. lat. 13025 and lat. 4884), suggesting the possibility of a common artist or artists. The manuscript’s incomplete colour has been incorrectly described as unsophisticated, possibly due to the deteriorated state of many of its pages and the fact that the first few folios of the manuscript appear to have been crudely over-painted. In the small number of pages where the original colour survives in good condition, the careful application of naturalistic colour resembles that of the Lindisfarne Gospels while the layering of matte and iridescent colours matches the artistry found in the Book of Kells....

Article

Crosier  

Pippin Michelli

Crook or pastoral staff of a bishop, abbot, or abbess. It was originally a wooden staff used by itinerant monks, priests and bishops (and also teachers), possibly as an aid to walking and also as a badge of office. The use of such staves is first recorded during the 4th century ad by Gregory of Nazianzus (Oratio xlii). Descriptions are ambiguous: crosiers may have been straight, crook-headed or cross-headed, and it is possible that all forms were used. There are indications that by the 9th century a crook-headed form was common, as the term cambutta (‘little curve’) had come into popular use (Strabo’s Vita Sancti Galli).

In the second half of the 11th century a new term, crocia (‘crook’ or ‘cross’), had become popular, and tau-headed (T-shaped) crosiers began to appear alongside the crook-headed form. Some doubt has been expressed as to whether these tau-headed staves were indeed for pastoral use, but they are decorated with precisely the same imagery as contemporary crook-headed staves, and there are contemporary illustrations of tau-headed staves being carried by clerics. By the end of the 12th century this tau-headed form (also known as the tau-crosier or tau-cross) had ceased to be made....

Article

Cross  

Catherine Oakes, John N. Lupia, Roger Stalley, Donna L. Sadler, Nicola Coldstream, Hilary Richardson and Regine Marth

Symbol of Christianity, widely represented in art in a great variety of types, contexts and materials. This article is concerned with the cross as a three-dimensional object, both of the monumental and portable type. Although in its narrow sense the term denotes a cross without the corpus (figure of the crucified Christ), it is also commonly used to refer to a crucifix (a cross with a representation of the corpus), a subject that is covered elsewhere (see Crucifix). The cross was also adopted as the typical form for reliquaries of the True Cross (for a discussion of reliquary crosses see also Reliquary, §I, 1).

Catherine Oakes

Christ’s execution by crucifixion is described in all four Gospel accounts, although none is specific about the shape of the cross. The New Testament Greek word for cross or crucifix, stauros, can also simply denote a post, and does not necessarily imply the cruciform shape of the vulgate Latin ...

Article

Peter Springer

Device for supporting a cross on the altar; by extension, any device for supporting or fixing a cross at or near the altar. The eastward-facing position of the priest at the altar is a prerequisite but not the actual cause of the placing of the cross on the altar table; it is rather that the characteristic affinity of the cross foot with the iconography of the altar (of the cross or the lay altar) generally makes it seem like a continuation of it. As far back as the 5th and 6th centuries there is evidence in Byzantine art of partly combined crosses and candlesticks, which are the precursors of the cross foot as it developed in the later Middle Ages. Images showing altar crosses suggest that by the Carolingian period (if not earlier), cross stands close to those in use in the high Middle Ages were in existence, alongside combinations of the cross foot and the reliquary. The most famous example of this is associated with ...