A forked cross, is a Gothic cross in the form of the letter Y that is also known as a crucifixus dolorosus, furca, ypsilon cross, Y-cross, robber's cross or thief's cross.
According to recent research, the forked cross emerged under the influence of the mystics in the late 13th or early 14th century and is especially common in the German Rhineland, where it is also called a Gabelkreuz ("fork cross"), Mystikerkruzifix ("mystic's cross"), Gabelkruzifix ("fork crucifix"), Schächerkreuz ("robber's cross"), or Pestkreuz ("plague cross").
Mysticism is the practice of religious ecstasies, together with whatever ideologies, ethics, rites, myths, legends, and magic may be related to them. It may also refer to the attainment of insight in ultimate or hidden truths, and to human transformation supported by various practices and experiences.
The Rhineland is the name used for a loosely defined area of Western Germany along the Rhine, chiefly its middle section.
It is believed that the forked cross represents a tree, or more precisely, the Tree of Knowledge, which brought sin into the world. However sin was defeated by the suffering of Jesus on the cross at Calvary.
The tree of the knowledge of good and evil is one of two specific trees in the story of the Garden of Eden in Genesis 2–3, along with the tree of life.
Calvary, or Golgotha, was, according to the Gospels, a site immediately outside Jerusalem's walls where Jesus was crucified.
Typical of the mystic crucifixes is the body of Christ hanging on a Y-shaped tree fork with his head falling low over his chest, his mouth contorted with pain and his eyes full of tears. His narrow, sinewy arms stretch more upward than sideways, his thin body is strongly bent and deeply sunken below the breastbone, with prominently protruding ribs and a gaping wound in his side. Fingers and toes are spread apart and spasmodically bent. The overall impression of the painted figure was intended to be so horrific that believers would be in fear and terror. It is recorded that in 1306 the Bishop of London removed a mystic crucifix for this reason.
London is the capital and largest city of both England and the United Kingdom. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.
Religious currents of the 13-14th century developed, under the influence of mysticism, a piety centred on Christ's Passion, which expressed itself in this image form that portrayed Jesus' suffering in a particularly graphic way. In art history, the technical term crucifixus dolorosus has come to be used, a term introduced by Geza de Francovich. Gothic passion crucifixes often use forked crosses, but not in all cases. Quite a few hang on Latin crosses. But they are almost always in the form of branches that recall the Tree of Life. The aforementioned term "plague cross" (Pestkreuz) is misleading, since crucifixi dolorosi appeared soon after 1300, i.e. before the outbreak of the great plague in Western Europe. Little is known about their original function. What is certain is that the Coesfeld Cross had already been carried through the town during processions from the beginning. Many fork crosses are found in places run by the Dominican and Franciscan orders, especially in Italy.
Not until the Counter-Reformation did people begin to honour the crosses in many places with a special procession. Often the two thieves will appear on a forked cross, while Jesus is depicted hanging on a straight beam. Hence the alternative name of "robber's cross" or "thief's cross" (Schächerkreuz).
The Counter-Reformation, also called the Catholic Reformation or the Catholic Revival, was the period of Catholic resurgence that was initiated in response to the Protestant Reformation. It began with the Council of Trent (1545–1563) and largely ended with the 1781 Patent of Toleration, although smaller expulsions of Protestants continued into the 19th century. Initiated to preserve the power, influence and material wealth enjoyed by the Catholic Church and to present a theological and material challenge to Reformation, the Counter-Reformation was a comprehensive effort composed of apologetic and polemical documents, ecclesiastical reconfiguration as decreed by the Council of Trent, a series of wars, political maneuvering including the efforts of Imperial Diets of the Holy Roman Empire, exiling of Protestant populations, confiscation of Protestant children for Catholic institutionalized upbringing, heresy trials and the Inquisition, anti-corruption efforts, spiritual movements, and the founding of new religious orders.
The forked cross in the church of St. Mary's in the Capitol in Cologne was thought for a long time to be the oldest forked crucifix. Restoration work revealed, however, that it was not the original prototype for all forked crosses, but that this crucifix may have been the catalyst for the popularization of this type of cross in the Rhineland.
The cross at St. Mary's in the Capitol was carved in the 14th century (before 1312). Restoration work in recent years revealed much of the late medieval, second painting (Zweitfassung). Small sections of the exposed, first painting revealed astonishing similarities with the original coat of paint of the Bocholt Cross, once again visible since 1967, which used the Cologne Cross as a prototype, even though different sculptors were employed.
The crucifixus dolorosus from St. Mary's in the Capitol bears very little similarity with the style of the Rhenish and Cologne sculptors of its time; it appears to be a singular work of outstanding quality. It is therefore questionable whether this forked cross was created by a Cologne wood carver. Even the other sculptures of this type in Germany appear to be by "foreign" craftsmen when compared with the local art of their particular region. They only had a limited, local following. On the other hand, artistic links to crosses in other countries can be recognised. Especially clear is an Italian influence. Thus it is possible that the original forked crosses were imported order that they were carved by itinerant craftsmen, which is why, in the case of the crucifix in St. Mary's in the Capitol local walnut wood may have been used.
Another early example of these mystic crucifixes, besides the one in St. Mary's in the Capitol, is that in St. Severin's Church in Cologne. Other, later crosses exist in Haltern, Bocholt, Borken and in St. Lambert's, Coesfeld. The crucifixes in St. Simon and St. Jude's in Thorr (Bergheim county), St. John's in Lage/Rieste (Lower Saxony), the cross in St. Peter's Church, Merzig and the crucifix in the Roman Catholic parish church of St. John the Baptist in Kendenich (Hürth) also belong to this group.
These sorts of crucifix are also found, albeit in much smaller numbers, in other European countries, not just in Italy, but also in Switzerland and in Upper Austria and in Spain.
In heraldry the forked cross is used as a charge whose arms extend, in the shape of a fork, towards the upper edge of the shield. If the cross touches the edges of the shield it is called a pall. Otherwise it is known as a shakefork.
Cologne Cathedral is a Catholic cathedral in Cologne, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Cologne and of the administration of the Archdiocese of Cologne. It is a renowned monument of German Catholicism and Gothic architecture and was declared a World Heritage Site in 1996. It is Germany's most visited landmark, attracting an average of 20,000 people a day, and currently the tallest twin-spired church at 157 m (515 ft) tall.
A rood or rood cross, sometimes known as a triumphal cross, is a cross or crucifix, especially the large Crucifixion set above the entrance to the chancel of a medieval church. Alternatively, it is a large sculpture or painting of the crucifixion of Jesus.
Johannes Tauler OP was a German mystic, a Catholic preacher and a theologian. A disciple of Meister Eckhart, he belonged to the Dominican order. Tauler was known as one of the most important Rhineland mystics. He promoted a certain neo-platonist dimension in the Dominican spirituality of his time.
Peter Parler was a German-Bohemian architect and sculptor from the Parler family of master builders. Along with his father, Heinrich Parler, he is one of the most prominent and influential craftsmen of the Middle Ages. Born and apprenticed in the town of Schwäbisch Gmünd, Peter worked at several important late Medieval building sites, including Strasbourg, Cologne, and Nuremberg. After 1356 he lived in Prague, capital of the Kingdom of Bohemia and seat of the Holy Roman Empire, where he created his most famous works: St. Vitus Cathedral and the Charles Bridge.
Saint Ludger was a missionary among the Frisians and Saxons, founder of Werden Abbey and first Bishop of Münster in Westphalia.
The Golden Madonna of Essen is a sculpture of the Virgin Mary and the infant Jesus. It is a wooden core covered with sheets of thin gold leaf. The piece is part of the treasury of Essen Cathedral, formerly the church of Essen Abbey, in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, and is kept on display at the cathedral.
Conrad von Soest, also Konrad in modern texts, or in Middle High German Conrad van Sost or "von Soyst", was the most significant Westphalian artist and painted in the so-called soft style of International Gothic. He played a leading role in the introduction of this International Courtly Style to Northern Germany around 1390 and influenced German and Northern European painting into the late 15th century. He was the master of a thriving workshop and was accepted into the social circle of the cosmopolitan patrician elite of Dortmund. Dortmund was then a leading and very prosperous member of the influential Hanseatic League.
The Schnütgen Museum in Cologne (Köln), Germany is devoted to Christian religious art, mainly medieval, but some parts of the collection, such as its textiles and prints, extend from antiquity to the modern period. In 1906, the collection of Alexander Schnütgen was donated to the city, and the collection has continued to expand, so that until the opening of a new building in 2010, only about 10% of its 13,000 items could be displayed. Now some 2,000 objects are on display in 1900 sq. metres of gallery space, with an additional 1300 sq. metres for special exhibitions. Schnütgen (1843–1918) was a Catholic priest and theologian; according to the museum website "Up to now people tell stories about his zealous and sometimes crafty collection tactics".
The Oberhausen–Arnhem railway is a two-track, electrified main line railway running close to the lower Rhine from Oberhausen via Wesel, Emmerich and the German-Dutch border to Arnhem and forms part of the line between the Ruhr and Amsterdam. The line was opened by the Cologne-Minden Railway Company in 1856 and is one of the oldest lines in Germany.
St. Maria im Kapitol is an 11th-century Romanesque church located in the Kapitol-Viertel in the old town of Cologne, Germany. The Roman Catholic church is based on the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, was dedicated to St. Mary and built between 1040 and 1065. It is one of twelve Romanesque churches built in Cologne during this period.
The Hülfensberg is a 448 m high, heavily wooded mountain in the Geismar municipality in the Eichsfeld district, Thuringia, Germany. The mountain has been a pilgrimage site since the late Middle Ages, and on its summit are a church containing a 12th-century crucifix, a Franciscan friary, a chapel dedicated to Saint Boniface, and a large free-standing cross.
Christian Heinrich Postel was a German jurist, epic poet and opera librettist, who wrote 28 libretti for the Oper am Gänsemarkt in Hamburg: set by composers such as Johann Philipp Förtsch, Reinhard Keiser and Georg Philipp Telemann. His texts for a St John Passion were set by composers Christian Ritter, Johann Mattheson and Johann Sebastian Bach in their respective St John Passion.
Merveldt is the name of a Westphalian noble family, which belongs to the nobility of the Middle Ages. The Herrn [Lords] von Merveldt were among the oldest families in the Münsterland. Merfeld, the eponymous seat of the family, is now a neighborhood of the city of Dülmen in the District of Coesfeld in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany.
St. Severin is a Lutheran parish church in Keitum on the island of Sylt, northern Germany. It was named after the 4th-century bishop Severin of Cologne. Built in the Romanesque style and first documented in 1240, the church stands back from the town at a higher elevation. Tests have shown that the roof of the church can be dated to 1216, making it the oldest religious building in Schleswig-Holstein. The tower was built around 1450 and served as a navigation mark for seafarers as well as a prison.
The Coesfeld Cross is a so-called forked cross and is located in the Church of Saint Lambert in Coesfeld.
The term Cross of Bernward principally refers to two Ottonian crosses in the cathedral museum in Hildesheim:
Heinrich Parler the Elder, was a German architect and sculptor. His masterpiece is Holy Cross Minster, an influential milestone of late Gothic architecture in the town of Schwäbisch Gmünd, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Parler also founded the Parler family of master builders and his descendants worked in various parts of central Europe, especially Bohemia. His son, Peter Parler, became one of the major architects of the Middle Ages. The family name is derived from the word Parlier, meaning "foreman".
The Altenberger Dom is the former abbey church of Altenberg Abbey which was built from 1259 in Gothic style by Cistercians. Listed as a cultural heritage, it is located in Altenberg, now part of Odenthal in the Rheinisch-Bergischer Kreis, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Until 1511, the church was the burial site of counts and dukes of Berg and the dukes of Jülich-Berg.
The Bocholt Cross is a forked crucifix in St. George's Church in Bocholt, in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia and dates to the early 14th century. It is the oldest and most significant ornament of this church and the focal point of a regional pilgrimage today.
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