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Late Medieval; 15th century
Pilgrim badge of the Rood of Grace, Boxley Abbey. This depicts Jesus Christ on the cross. There is a slanting plaque above Christ’s head with the initials ‘INRI’ (‘Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudeorum’, meaning ‘Jesus of Nazareth, The King of the Jews’). The terminals of the cross are decorated with barbed quatrefoils, surrounded by trefoil crockets. There are more trefoils sprouting from the edges of the cross as if the wood is bursting into leaf. The horizontal limb of the cross is decorated with wavy lines to resemble the grain of the wood. A rood is a large crucifix usually displayed in a church. Boxley Abbey in Kent was a popular stopping-off point for pilgrims on their way to St Thomas Becket’s shrine in Canterbury. The rood at Boxley Abbey had a life-sized figure of Christ, which was famous for shedding tears. Sometimes the face would also move. The complete pilgrim badges show the rood with the figure of Christ, an altar at the base with various offerings on it (such as candlesticks, money and goblets) and sometimes a man, the keeper of the rood, standing to the side of the altar. In 1538, during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the rood was taken down and a mechanical device was found inside the head, revealing that the miraculous moving face was in fact complex trickery.
H 93 mm; W 66 mm
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