This very special Croizier

17 Sep

Josephine Campeau 

Blog 1 

On Friday September 13, 2013, my classmates and I had the chance to visit the National Museum of Ireland. The museum had many different areas ranging from the Prehistoric era to the Egyptian era. My attention was drawn to the medieval section. Religion has always interested me and fortunately, the Irish medieval section included a area dedicated to religious artifacts. 

I decided to devote my first blog entry to the crozier. A crozier is an object carried by highly ranked religious people… for instance bishops, abbots, etc. It represented their connection with Jesus (Glossary of Medieval Art and Architecture, Vadnal, 1998). It is usually in the form of a shepherd’s crook but can also be in a “T” shape. The object that caught my attention was a crozier shaped like a T. It is the only surviving example of a crozier with a T-shaped top (Museum information).  Yet, these types of croziers were pictured on Irish medieval stone sculptures, meaning that they were probably common (museum information). The shape of the top of the crozier explains its name: Tau crozier. 

The appearance of the top of the Tau crozier is very esthetic. It is totally gold. The horizontal structure of the crozier is made up of two animals facing each other. In addition to this, the vertical structure of the T is slightly ornamented. 

The crozier is very typical of the medieval period of Irish history, given that religion was central during this time period. It was way more than something to believe in, it was paramount in in every field of society (economic, political and sociological). Irish churches served as a place to pray and to learn but also to do business. Ireland was prosperous, rural and well settled. By the eighth century, the church organization had a complex structure. Many types of clerical establishments existed:  monasteries, small local churches, hermitages and more. Furthermore, some of the larger monasteries developed in monastic towns and became the residences of kings (BBC). These became the centres for the population, decision-making and wealth. Finally, religion was also dictating rule and standards. 

Logically, one can understand that religion was predominant in medieval Irish culture. It was the foundation of life. People thought that life was based on religion and that all the positive aspects of life were brought by god. Consequently, the only way to connect with the church and understand the “message of god” was by being dependent of their local religious community. In order words, religion was so powerful because it was central in everybody’s life and also it gave society a reason to live.  This is why the crozier is very symbolic of this time period. Religion was important in every aspect of the lives of the citizens. 

Meanwhile, back at the museum, other kinds of crozier were also displayed; each of them special. However, all of them where in crook shape. Until the 19th century, the crozier of St.Tola was kept in the Dysert O’Dea, Co. Clare church since it was associated with its patron, St.Tola (see #5 in the picture). 

In conclusion, I enjoyed my experience at the National Museum of Ireland. By analyzing a specific artifact, we got to discover a whole period in Irish history.

 

Bibliography 

 1. “Christianity in Britain”. Christianity in Britain. BBC, 26 Nov. 2011. Web. 13 Sept. 2013. <http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/history/uk_1.shtml&gt;. 

2. Vadnal, Jane. “Crozier” Glossary of Medieval Art and Architecture. PITT, n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 1994. <http:/http://www.pitt.edu/~medart/menugl

 

The Tau Croizier 

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 Other type of Croizier. 
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