Two Seventeenth Century Works of Liturgical Art Sent to the Holy Land

The Terra Sancta Museum in Jerusalem recently featured some interesting liturgical metalwork in the form of a crozier and altar cross. Here again we would point out the important fact that while the worldly mind only sees material value, the liturgical and spiritual mind sees beauty offered to God and His worship within the sacred liturgy. 

Let's begin with the crozier. The museum offers the following commentary:

Michel de Picauville was General Commissar of the Holy Land during the reign of the famous Louis XIV. Thanks to his mediation, this pastoral [staff] that we are showing you here arrived in Jerusalem on 8 May 1658, on commission of the Sun King. It is a rare and precious crosier or pastoral staff in embossed, chased and gilded silver with amethysts and blue glass. The lilies of France which decorate the staff and the presence of the two three-dimensional figures of St Louis and St Denis were to have recalled for eternity the great devotion of France to the Holy Land.

Some photos of this beautiful crozier:

Next we have this 17th century altar cross described accordingly by the museum:

We have little information about many such as Bernardo Soler who, in the middle of the 17th century, was Commissar of the Holy Land for the province of Catalonia. Thanks to him, who had this work made and sent it to Jerusalem in 1657, the Terra Sancta Museum will be able to exhibit this precious procession crucifix in chased silver, a rare example of a liturgical object created with late Gothic forms at the height of the baroque.

The detailing on it is exquisite.

So who are these Commissars? The Terra Sancta Museum explain in this article. Here is a short excerpt.

Six hundred years ago, the Church officially recognised the role of the commissars of the Holy Land. Pope Martin V (1417 – 1431) declared in his bull “His quæ pro ecclesiasticarum”: “that the same authority generously grants to the Brothers the offerings that are given […] by the pious generosity of the faithful and which are used to support the life of the Custos and of the Brothers through their Procurators or Commissars.” At the time, the life of the Friars in the Holy Land, the gradual recovery of the Holy Places – then under Ottoman rule since the capture of St John of Acre in 1291 – and daily worship were possible only thanks to the support of the Christian princes. “The objects sent satisfied the needs of the communities who lived in autarchy: money, food, medicines, books, objects and various utensils, including material and ornaments for worship, both for ordinary times and for feast-days and special ceremonies...

For more information, please see the Terra Sancta Museum.

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