Southern Italy

Reliquary cross

11th (14th c.)

    Gold cross decorated with filigrees, gems and cloisonné enamel. The cross bears a small cruciform reliquary on one side, and on the other, four medallions representing the Virgin Mary in the middle, St John and a holy bishop on the arms, and Christ wearing the crown of thorns (Ecce Homo) at the base. The rest is decorated with three lozenges with quatrefoils in cloisonné enamel.
Tradition holds that this cross once belonged to Robert Guiscard. It is very uncertain where and when it was actually made. While the cross has come in for transformations dating from the 14th c. (translucent enamels), the golden filigree is characteristic of the royal workshops of Palermo in the 11th-12th c.

- I Normanni, popolo d'Europa, Roma-Venezia, 1994,
Mario d'Onofrio (dir.) , n° 318.

Salerno, Museo Diocesano

Photography : D.R.