A cross of this sort, also known as an ‘enkolpion’, could be worn as a pectoral cross, and was an attribute of bishops during the Middle Ages. Over the course of the centuries, many of these crosses were produced in such a way as to hold a secondary relic. They might contain, for example, part of a saint’s clothing, pieces of the True Cross, or hair fragments. The cross was the most popular Christian symbol in Byzantium: it offered protection to the wearer and would have been available all over the Empire.
Byzantine Enkolpion Cross with Mary & Child
A large Byzantine enkolpion cross made of bronze, and featuring a hinged base and loop suspension for wear. The front is decorated with the incised image of Mother Mary and Child, sided by two palm leaves. Above her haloed head is the titular inscription ΠΑΝΑΓΙΑ, meaning “All Holy”. Depicted on the reverse is the figure of Saint Peter in the Orans position. His name, written in Greek letters, appears as ΠΕΤ and ΡΟC on each side of the Saint.
Condition: Very fine, all details are clearly visible and the metal is in very good condition.