Cross of Desire
IX sec. d.C.
Under the star-filled firmament of Ferramola, in the upper hall of the oratory of Santa Maria in Solario, the Cross of Desiderius shines, a masterpiece of Carolingian goldsmithing dating back to the 9th century AD. The Cross, which had devotional and processional functions, represents one of the rarest liturgical specimens that have come down to us both for its considerable size and for the large quantity of precious stones, 212 in total, symmetrically scattered on the wooden supporting structure, covered with a metal sheet, with the arms dilated at the ends. A work of high goldsmithing, the Cross was to represent not only the fullness of Christian devotion to Christ the Savior but also the role of the ruling dynasties, in a continuous game of cross-references between imperial power of Roman heritage and religious yearning, unearthly glory and secular symbols. The very choice to adorn the Cross with precious stones, as was done with the imperial crown, represents a clear reference to the value and power of the Church, not second to that of the Caesar.