In the Spotlight: The Canterbury Cross
It was the 1867 construction of a new drainage system on St. Georges Street (Canterbury, England) that led to the discovery of the Canterbury Cross. During excavations, workers found a small, bronze brooch dating back to the 9th century. It is astonishing to think that this seemingly small discovery would consequently become one of the most important symbols of the Anglican Church.
A second brooch featuring the cross was found under Eastbridge Hospital (located on High Street – less than 1/4 mile from St. Georges Street), leading researchers to believe that the design was unique to Canterbury. Thus, it is thought that the design later served “an emblem on badges purchased and worn by pilgrims from around 1200 to 1400.”
Unfortunately, there is not much known about the Canterbury Cross or its origin. The original bronze cross is, however, part of the Canterbury Heritage Museum’s collections.
Gallery Byzantium’s Canterbury Cross is an exquisite design replica of the original cross. It highlights the Byzantine influences of the design while keeping faithful to original bronze piece.
A symbol of communion and cooperation
While its alisee pattee shape (featuring the flared, convex arms) is similar to other Saxon Crosses, like the St. Cuthbert or Trumpington Crosses, the Canterbury Cross is unique in its Byzantine and Celtic design influences. The intricate scroll work around each arm is a noteworthy example of Byzantium’s influence throughout Western Europe. In addition, the “triquetra” pattern in the center of each arm is based on a Celtic knot design that symbolizes the Trinity.
“In 1899, the cross was selected to surmount the Martyrs Memorial in Kent.” Since then, the Canterbury Cross has come to become a seminal symbol of the Anglican Church. In the early 1930s, the Canterbury Cathedral began sending stone wall mountings based on the cross to Anglican cathedrals throughout the world. This gesture symbolized the unity of the church and “their communion with Canterbury. With deep connections to the religious and cultural heritage of the city, the cross has subsequently become iconic.”
Cross & Crucifix: Glossary – http://www.crosscrucifix.com/glossaryhome.htm
Tags: Anglican Cross, Byzantine, Byzantine Cross, Canterbury Cathedral, Canterbury Cross, Celtic, Celtic Cross, Christian cross, England, History, In the Spotlight, Jewelry, Saxon
Canterbury Historical & Archaeological Society – http://www.canterbury-archaeology.org.uk/cross/4590809649
Seiyaku: Canterbury Cross – http://www.seiyaku.com/customs/crosses/canterbury.html
Canterbury Heritage Museum – https://canterburymuseums.co.uk/heritagemuseum/explore/canterbury-cross/
Canterbury Cathedral – https://www.canterbury-cathedral.org/whats-on/news/2016/01/26/canterbury-cross/
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