Gospel Lectionary


This treasure binding, original to its manuscript, consists of a silver-filigree frame, a silver-gilt cross (noticeably more golden in color), and four ivory plaques of the evangelists (Mark, lower left, is a modern replacement). At its center, the cross features a polished rock crystal protecting an image of the Crucifixion drawn on gold foil. A splinter of the True Cross rests upon Christ’s chest. The surrounding inscription, “The death of Christ was the death of death, and your bite, O Hell,” emphasizes the paradox of Christ’s death as a triumph of eternal life. Through this deliberate staging, the relic appears as the source of the cross’s life-giving power, which emanates from the center in the form of the cover’s abundant vegetal motifs. The book was created at Regensburg, likely for the Benedictine abbey of Mondsee (near Salzburg), where it was preserved for much of the Middle Ages.

Gospel Lectionary, in Latin
Germany, Regensburg, ca. 1030–50, with later additions
Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, MS W.8
Purchased by Henry Walters, before 1931