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The Crux Vaticana restored

2010-01-15

The Crux Vaticana is one of the most priceless gems in the Vatican’s collection of religious artefacts.  It was a gift from Byzantine Emperor Justin II to the city of Rome back in 580. Marred by its age and use, it now has regained its splendor after a challenging restoration.

The cross was designed by the emperors wife, Princess Sofia. It’s though she was the one who donated the pearls from her crown. The cross also dons sapphires and emeralds.

Sante Guido
Responsible for the restoration

“It is a work of gilded silver, not too large, about 35 centimeters, with sheets of silver and it’s considered one of the greatest works of art of the Constantinople period. It is one of the oldest preserved in the world today”.

The most significant change is the ring of 12 pearls that now surround the piece of Jesus’ cross. The pearls were brought from Australia.
Another interesting aspect of the cross is that the back is decorated with plants, Emperor Justin’s signature which makes reference to Princess Sophia.

It has taken a year and a half of study and six months of work to make the restoration of this cross possible. The first step was to take it apart to find the original pieces.

Sante Guido
Responsible for the restoration

“Many historians thought that the cross was a product of restoration of the 17th century. But it’s not. It’s the original. In fact, we have learned that 90 percent of it is original.”

The only part that remained intact was a crystal cube and the silver guarding the relic of the cross of Jesus.

The jewels that adorn the cross are typical of this historic moment and have a significant meaning. The embedded stones represent the 12 tribes of Israel also known as the Hebrew root of Christianity.

Sante Guido
Responsible for the restoration

"The Constantine emperor asked for a large cross made of gold and gems to put on Mount Calvary in memory of the crucifixion of Christ. From that moment and for centuries, crosses were decorated with precious stones, especially those that include a piece of the cross of Jesus.”

A priceless treasure with a high religious, historic and artistic value that can be seen until Holy Saturday in the Treasure Museum of Saint Peter.

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