A small exhibition was held at Lugo in August 1896. Here were shown sixteen chalices, nearly all of them of merit from the point of view of history or art. Such are the chalice of San Rosendo, proceeding from the old monastery of Celanova; the Gothic chalices of Tuy cathedral, Lugo cathedral, Santa Maria del Lucio, Santa Eulalia de Guilfrei, San Pedro de Puertomarin, and the Franciscan friars of Santiago; and the chalice and patine of Cebrero (twelfth century), in which it is said that on a certain occasion in the fifteenth century the wine miraculously turned to actual blood, and the Host to actual flesh, in order to convince a doubting priest who celebrated service.
The Cross of Angels and the Cross of Victory - presents, respectively, from Alfonso the Chaste and Alfonso the Great - are now preserved at Oviedo, in the Camara Santa of that stately temple. The former of these crosses, fancied by credulous people to be the handiwork of angels - whence its title1 - was made in a.d. 808. It consists of four arms of equal length, radiating from a central rosette (Pl. ii.). The core or alma is of wood covered with a double plate of richly decorated gold, chased in the finest filigree (indicative already of the influence of Cordova) and thickly strewn with sapphires, amethysts, topazes, and cornelians. Other stones hung formerly from six small rings upon the lower border of the arms. The cross is thus inscribed: -
"Susceptum placide maneat hoc in honore Dei Offeret Adefonsus humilis servus Xti Hoc siguo tuetur pius Hoc signo vincitur inimicus.
1 This marvel is related by the Monk of Silos. A quotation from another of my books is applicable here. "Last year," I wrote in 1902 - (pp. 64, 65 of Toledo and Madrid: Their Records and Romances) - "the young King Alfonso the Thirteenth paid a visit to Oviedo cathedral, and was duly shown the relics and the jewels. Among these latter was the ' Cross of the Angels.'
"'Why is it so called?' inquired the king.
"'Because,' replied the bishop of the diocese, ' it is said that the angels made it to reward King Alfonso the Chaste.'
"' Well, but,' insisted the young monarch, ' what ground is there for thinking so?'
"'Sehor,' replied the prelate, ' none whatever. The time for traditions is passing away.' "
The Cross Of Victory (Oviedo Cathedral)
Quisquis auferre presumpserit mihi Fulmine divino intereat ipse Nisi libens ubi voluntas dederit mea Hoc opus perfectum est in Era dccxlvi."
The other cross (PL iii.) is more than twice as large, and measures just one yard in height by two feet four and a half inches in width. Tradition says that the primitive, undecorated wooden core of this cross was carried against the Moors by King Pelayo. The ornate casing, similar to that upon the Cross of Angels, was added later, and contains 152 gems and imitation gems. The following inscription tells us that this casing was made at the Castle of Gauzon in Asturias, in the year 828: -
"Susceptuiu placide maneat hoc in honore Dei, quod offerent Famuli Christi Adefonsus princeps et Scemaena XLII. discurrente Era DCCCLXVI."
Regina; Quisquis auferre hoc donoria nostra presumpserit Fulmine divino intereat ipse. Hoc opus perfection et concessum est Santo Salvatori Oventense sedis. Hoc signo tuetur pins, hoc vincitur inimicus Et operatum est in castello Gauzon anno regni nostri.
These crosses are processional. Others which were used for the same purpose are those of San Sebastian de Serrano (Galicia), San Munio de Veiga, Santa Maria de Guillar (Lugo), San Mamed de Fisteos, and Santa Maria de Arcos. The five preceding crosses are of bronze; those of Baamorto and San Adriano de Lorenzana are respectively of silver, and of wood covered with silver plates, and all were shown at the Lugo exhibition I have spoken of.
Besides the Cross of Victory or Pelayo, and the Cross of Angels, interesting objects preserved at Oviedo are a small diptych presented by Bishop Don Gonzalo (a.d. 1162-1175), and the Arca Santa used for storing saintly relics. This beautiful chest, measuring three feet nine inches and a half in length by twenty-eight inches and a half in height, is considered by Riano to be of Italian origin, and to date from between the tenth and twelfth centuries.
Another handsome box belonging to the cathedral of Astorga was once upon a time the property of Alfonso the Third and his queen Jimena, whose names it bears - adefonsvs rex: scemena regina. The workmanship is consequently of the close of the ninth or the beginning of the tenth century. The material is wood covered with repousse silver plates on which are figured angels and birds, together with the eagle and the ox as emblems of the evangelists John and Luke, whose names are also to be read upon the casket.
Next to the sword, no object in the history of mediaeval Spain was more profoundly popular or venerated than the relicario. This in its primitive form was just a small receptacle, such as a vase or urn of gold or silver, ivory or crystal, used by the laity or clergy for treasuring bones, or hairs, or other relics of the Virgin, or the Saviour, or the saints. In private families a holy tooth, or toe, or finger thus preserved would often, as though it were some Eastern talisman, accompany its credulous possessor to the battlefield.
As time went on, the urn or vase was commonly replaced by chests or caskets made by Moorish captives, or by tranquil and respected Moorish residents within the territory of the Christian,1
1 In many towns a hearty friendship sprang up between the Spaniard and the Moor. This was a natural consequence in places where the vanquished had a better education than the victor. The warrior population of both races might be struggling on the field at the same moment that their craftsmen were fraternizing in the workshop. Ferdinand the First and Alfonso the Sixth or wrested from the infidel in war and offered by the Spanish kings or nobles to their churches. Here they were kept on brackets, or suspended near the altar by a chain1 of silver, gold, or iron. Among the Moors themselves such chests and caskets served, according to their richness or capacity, for storing perfumes, clothes, or jewels, or as a present from a bridegroom to his bride; and since the sparsely-furnished Oriental room contains no kind of wardrobe, cabinet, or chest of drawers, their use in Moorish parts of Spain was universal.