Ebonised wooden shrine with painted glass panes and an ivory Christ. Italy. 17th century.
The interior is covered with ten paintings on glass, eight of them are arranged in rows of four at either side of the body of Christ, and depict angels holding the Arma Christi or instruments of the Passion of Christ; two other painted glass panes top it off and each one shows a pair of angels holding a cartouche. The words “Arma militie nostre” are written in the first, taken from Saint Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 10, verse 4 which states: “for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds”, and in the second is written “In hoc Signo vinces” surrounding the cross, the meaning of which is “In this sign thou shalt conquer”, the motto adopted by Constantine after his vision of the Chi-Rho in the sky above his army, just before the battle of Milvian Bridge against Maxentius on the 12th October 312. He won the battle, which changed the course of the Roman Empire, as it abandoned its pagan beliefs and adopted Christianity. From then on, the cross multiplied its presence throughout the empire, and later throughout the world.
Shrine measurements: 107 x 57 x 37 cm. Height of the Christ figure: 32 cm. Total measurements of the cross: 90 x 38 x 18 cm. Glass panel measurements: 13 x 11.5 cm. each.