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a mere cross without any kind of image upon it, still we have good reasons for believing that not unoften it bore on each of its two sides a figure of our Lord hanging “nailed to the rood.” But the 'good reasons' that he adduces are a manuscript drawing of the twelfth century, and a grave-brass of the fifteenth. The drawing of Archbishop Elga, already referred to, represents him as holding a crozier which is plain. Indeed, among all the facsimiles of AngloSaxon manuscripts that I have seen I have not found a single picture of a crucifix, and while there is plenty of evidence that crucifixes were known in England before the Norman invasion, they were certainly not in use during the whole of the Anglo-Saxon period, and it is useful for our purpose to make some distinction.
(e) The Crucifix As early as the fifth century there were beginnings of a tendency to represent Christ's person without relation to the cross. To the early Christian a realistic representation of the person of Christ would have savored of idolatry, and to represent him crucified, an act of sacrilege. But there was evidently a craving for some visible representation of the Atonement. At first the Lamb was used as the symbol of the Divine Sacrifice, employed in conjunction with the cross in a great many varieties of combination,' which reached their climax in the eighth and ninth centuries.'
But long before the eighth century another step had been taken. The cross was depicted in union with ideal portraits of the Savior, generally as a beautiful youth holding a cross in his hands. In a manuscript of the sixth century a cross is drawn with a bust of Christ surmounting the top, and similar figures have been found in painting and mosaic."
* Walcott, Sacred Archæology, p. 341; Didron, Christ, Icon. s. v. Lamb.
* Ibid. Seymour, p. 158. • Jameson, History of Our Lord, p. 320.
The transition from this ideal portrait of Christ over the cross to the entire figure outstretched and nailed thereon is a short one. The earliest picture of the crucifixion comes from the Orient; it is in a Syrian manuscript of the Gospels, dating from the year 586. Not long after this, Pope Gregory the Great presented Theodolinda with a cross of gold on which the crucifixion is represented in enamel, the work of a Greek artist. But pictures of the crucifixion were still very rare a hundred years after. The council 'Quinisextum in Trullo,' of the year 692, gave formal sanction to the custom of representing the actual figure of Christ instead of the symbolical figure of the Lamb, but most representations of the crucifixion were still in painting or mosaic.
So, as we have seen, at the time of the mission of Augustine representations of the crucifixion must have been extremely rare, as it was nearly a hundred years after when the custom received the formal sanction of the Church. It is therefore absurd to call the silver cross that figured in the procession of Augustine a crucifix—as Miller does, for example, in his translation of Alfred's Bede. The passage in the Ecclesiastical History is as follows:
Bæron Cristes rõde tăcen, sylfrene Crīstes mæl mid him.'
Here 'Cristes rõde tācen sylfrene Crīstes mēl,' translates Bede's 'crucem (pro vexillo ferentes) argenteam.' Miller translates the Old English thus: 'They bore the emblem of Christ's cross—and had a silver crucifix with them'-a translation not warranted in the least.
The faith was introduced into England before crucifixes were known, and when pictures of the crucifixion, even in painting or mosaic, were very rare. Still it is too much to say, with the writer in the Dictionary of Christian Antiquities, that up to the time of Charlemagne 'all representations of the crucified form of our Lord alone, as well as pictures,
*Cutts, Hist. Early Christ. Art, p. 198.
reliefs, and mosaics, in which that form is the central object of the scene, may be considered alike symbolical, and without historical realism or artistic appeal to the emotions.' Bede' mentions among the treasures brought by Benedict Biscop from Rome in 678 a painting of the serpent raised up by Moses, paralleled by one of the Son of Man 'in cruce exaltatum.' This is the earliest example of a picture of the crucifixion in England that we have; still it is not a crucifix.
One of the earliest examples of an actual crucifix in western Europe is that which Charlemagne presented to Pope Leo III, of the date 815. But that it was not an object of worship in the Gallican church of that time seems clear from the tenor of the famous capitularies on the subject of imageworship, published by the Emperor some years before.
The earliest mention of a crucifix in England is one in the legend of St. Dunstan, belonging therefore to the tenth century. But it is not unlikely that after the final victory of image-worship in the great iconoclastic controversy, crucifixes gradually found their way into England during the latter part of the ninth century.
According to Lingard,' after the burning of the Abbey of Medeshamstede (Peterborough), and the massacre of the monks by the Danes, the victims were buried in one wide grave; on the surface a small pyramid of stone was placed, bearing a record of the disaster, and opposite the pyramid, to protect the spot from being profaned, a cross was erected on which was engraved the image of Christ. As the massacre took place in the year 870, it shows that the carving of an image upon the face of the cross was already practised in the latter part of the ninth century.
On stone crosses belonging in all probability to the tenth century is frequently carved a rude image of the Savior." · Hist. Abb., Sec. 9, in Op., Hist., ed. Plummer, p. 373. Dict. Christ. Antiq., p. 514. Vita S. Dunst., auctore Osberno; Rolls Ser. 63, 113. * Hist. Antiq., etc., 2. 234. Brit. Arch. Journ., 44. 300.
In documents of the late tenth and eleventh centuries there are references to the crucifix, showing that by that time it had come into general use. In the tomb of Edward the Confessor was found a golden crucifix."
It is not improbable, as Rock supposes, that the image may have been carved on processional and archiepiscopal crosses in the tenth and eleventh centuries, though as yet I have found no evidence to prove it. But the altar-cross continued plain certainly till the Norman Conquest, and probably for several centuries after.
Ælfric makes no allusion to the crucifix, but orders his flock to pray to the cross, and it is evident that in his day the cross was the significant thing, whether or not an image was upon it-and it was the cross that was adored. still, as in its ancient uses, the emblem of the Savior. This is further brought out by the Old English words for the cross, which wholly ignore the presence of an image. It is the "röd'—the 'rood' or 'cross'; or the Cristesmæl, the symbol of Christ; a rõde tacn 'rood token'; or. Cristestācn,' and so on, not one of the terms having the special significance of a crucifix. The word 'Cristesmæl' is most frequently translated 'crucifix,' but for no reason that I can discover. The word means only the symbol of Christ,' which is the precise significance of the cross in the early church. This word is frequently used to designate the plain cross-mark signed at the end of charters to represent the sign of the cross, and, in short, is found over and over again where it must mean simply a cross.
In conclusion, we may say that the crucifix was practically unknown in England before the ninth century and that it
e. g. A. S. Chron. 1070; see also AA. S. Ethelred, AA. SS. Boll. Junii 4. 571, and AA. SS. Boll. Junii 2. 329 (Margaret of Scotland).
* Archeologia 3, 390.
e. g. Oswald's Cross, Alfred's Bede, p. 154; sign of cross, Lchdm. 2. 294.
did not come into general use till about a hundred years before the Conquest.
(f) Ceremonial Honoring of the Cross The two festivals of the cross, the Exaltation and the Invention (September 14 and May 3 respectively), were both observed in the Anglo-Saxon church, at least from a period which is covered by the Egbert Pontificial, since it contains benedictions for use on those days.' In the AngloSaxon church these were single feast-days; later in the Sarum use the Invention became a double feast.
The ceremony of the Adoration of the Cross was celebrated by the Anglo-Saxons, as by the rest of the Christian church, on Good Friday. The ceremony is given in full by Rock (v. 3, pt. 2, pp. 88 ff.)," but here we need only the opening. In the following quotation I have substituted cross' for 'crucifix' (which Rock uses throughout), for reasons already discussed:
"A muffled cross was held up by two deacons, who stood half-way between the choir and the altar. From this spot they carried this veiled rood toward the altar, before which they laid it down on a pillow. After due time this cross was unshrouded by the two deacons, who, in doing so, uttered in a low chant “ Behold the wood of the Cross.” Then barefoot, as he and all the other clergy were from the very beginning of the day's service, whoever happened to be the celebrant, whether bishop, abbot, or priest, came forward, and halting thrice on the way to throw himself on the ground, in most lowly wise kissed the cross. After him followed the clergy, then the people, to offer this same token of homage to their crucified Lord. All the while this kissing of the cross was going on, the choir sang the
pp. 86, 89.
Also, Concordia 2. 76 ff. (cf. Durand, Rationale 6. 77. 21, P. 229) and 182, 184 ff., 385, 665, 735, 833, 870, 895; Durham Ritual 93. 150.