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700-year-old crucifix returns to St. Peter's Basilica

2016-12-11

The oldest crucifix in St. Peter's Basilica, dating back to the early fourteenth century, has just been restored. It is made from the wood of a walnut tree and in order to return it to its original appearance, layers of paint and varnish had to be removed because they tried to pass it off as a bronze sculpture.
 
It weighs almost 160 pounds, is over seven feet tall and shows Jesus during the final moments of His life: poor and serene.
 
CARD. ANGELO COMASTRI
Archpriest of the Basilica of St. Peter's

"It is a crucifix that has gone through many sad events. It has looked, we could say, with compassion, over human history and the history of the Church."

The crucifix is one of the few relics from the ancient Vatican Basilica that has lasted until today.
 
It is a work that was completed during the time of Dante, and saints like St. Catherine of Siena prayed before it and the eyes of great artists, like Michelangelo have repaired it.
 
MSGR. VITTORIO LANZANI
Delegate of the Fabric of St. Peter

"St. Catherine in her last days of life kept coming. She said she did not want to leave that church at all during the day or night in order to pray. So it is easy to imagine her before this crucifix."

However, it also witnessed sad events like the Napoleonic occupation, the deportation of Pope Pius VI or the Sack of Rome in 1527. The basilica was converted into a stable, and amidst the bodies of the slain Swiss Guards, the invaders dressed the crucifix as a soldier.
 
CARD. ANGELO COMASTRI
Archpriest of the Basilica of San Pedro

"When I look at the cross, a quote from Chesterton, the Anglican convert, always comes to mind. He said that on the crucifix he allows everyone to mistreat Him, to crucify Him, to bury Him. But everyone has to know that He is in the tomb only three days."
 
The crucifix has been exhibited in St. Peter's for a very special occassion: the jubilee dedicated to the imprisoned. The pope wanted the cross to be present in the final days of the jubilee. Afterwards, it will be placed on the altar in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, where thousands of pilgrims will once again pray and gaze at it.
 

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