Saint Andrew
Saint Andrew
Saint Andrew's Cross

Wiener Goldschmiedewerkstatt
c. 1440

Material
Wood

Collection
Dom Museum Wien
On loan from St. Stephen's Cathedral

Inv.Nr.
L/27

Wood
Crucifix
Medieval art

On view

Query
Reproduction request
Loan request

Photo: Leni Deinhardstein, Lisa Rastl, Dom Museum Wien
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Set Relic from Saint Andrew’s Cross

According to legend, this relic consists of the wood of the cross on which Saint Andrew suffered. According to its significance it has been adorned with great detail.

According to legend, Andrew the Apostle, also known as the First-Called, was crucified by Nero in today’s Greece because of his missionary sermons—yet unlike Jesus on an X-shaped cross. Tradition has it that the piece of wood of the present work is a fragment of the very cross Saint Andrews was crucified on. How and when the relic came into the possession of the treasury of Vienna’s St. Stephen’s Cathedral is unknown; presumably, it was added to the collection as early as in the days of Rudolf IV, Duke of Austria.

Around 1440, the relic was set and furnished with a figure of Saint Andrews to lend it nobility and authenticity. Excepting the halo set with jewels, which was added at a later point in time, this is today’s state of the work. The silver bordering on the front and the back of the cross shows fleur-de-lis motifs arranged like a frieze. Naturalistically designed leaves at the four inner corners seem to point to the head of the largely gilded figure of Saint Andrews who is rendered nailed to the X-shaped cross against a stony ground. Andrew has curly hair and a long beard, his head is bent to his proper right, and the expression of his face strikes us as pained because of his slightly opened mouth with its corners turned down. Both the garment, which is tied at the waist, and the cross, whose grain we find imitated, are executed in rich detail. The former’s sleeves and bottom hem also display detailed embellishments. In conjunction with the gold and silver used, the sophisticated metalwork of the figure of the saint rendered in a markedly realistic manner emphasize the highly spiritual value attached to this relic.