The Crucifixion


It seemed to me that I saw a very wondrous tree
   lifted into the air, enveloped by light,
   the brightest of trees. That beacon was all
   covered with gold. Gems stood
   beautiful at the surface of the earth; there were five also
   up on the central joint of the cross. All those fair through eternal decree gazed
   upon the angel of the Lord. It was not a wicked personís gallows there,
   but holy spirits, men over the earth,
   and all this famous creation gazed on Him.

                                                                From The Dream of the Rood, Anonymous, 7th century.

Even for the most committed in Christian religious faith, it is difficult to fully comprehend the effect of images of Christ's crucifixion on the imagination of congregations in the early church. In the modern world, we are confronted by images at every waking moment; we are satiated by images. For medieval churchgoers, the images in church were all they saw, and of all of them, the crucifix, or rood to give it its English name, was the most overwhelming.
  Its study is a lifetime's work, and the pages here are just a beginning. More are planned!
1. The narrative

2. Who was there?

3. The earliest images.

4. The crucifix

5. Christus Triumphans to Christus Patiens

6. The Tree of Life

Passion index                                                                                                    Home page - explore the site