Name/TitleTrue cross relic and reliquary, Bar Convent York
About this objectAfter the reported discovery in Jerusalem by Empress Helena (d. c.330) of the cross on which Jesus had been crucified, the Church of the Holy Sepculchre was built on the site and pieces of the so-called 'True Cross' became highly valued. Helena reportedly took pieces with her when she visited Cyprus and many other pieces were kept in the chapel of her palace in Rome.
A 17th century inscription records that 'D. Shirley, armour bearer' received 'this Holy Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ enclosed in a case of silver gilt in the form of a Jerusalem cross' as reward for his 'distinguished valour' when Christians took Jerusalem during the First Crusade in 1099. He returned with it to Britain. It passed through various hands during the Reformation and after, until it was given to the Bar Convent at York.
The elaborate outer case made of silver gilt, precious stones and crystal was made in 1870, continuing the medieval tradition of elaborate reliquaries.
Subject and Association KeywordsRelics
Subject and Association DescriptionLearn More: Baert 2012; Bagnoli 2010; Drijvers 1991.
Medium and MaterialsWood, glass, gilt silver
MeasurementsCross relic, c. 13 cm
Credit LineBar Convent York
Object numberEXH77: True cross