Cross of Cong

19 Sep

I know Ireland is historically a very religious country so I was interested to see the museum’s collection of church-related artifacts. I found many crosses, crucifixes, and statues of Jesus and Mary. I found all these artifacts extremely interesting to examine and read about. One artifact that stands out in my mind is the Cross of Cong. This processional cross was displayed in a large case next to the croziers.   It is from the 12th century and is made of oak covered with sheets of bronze. It has intricate designs and inscriptions and has a crystal rock in the center. There are also many glass studs on the cross. According to my research, the cross is 30 inches high and the arms are 18 ¾ inches across. I read in the artifact description that the Cross of Cong is one of the greatest treasures of its era and was made for Toirrdelbach Ua Conchobair, High King of Ireland. The cross indicates the importance of religion at the time of its creation. Ua Conchobair had the cross made to display his wealth and power. He wanted to patronize the church to gain support from the religious community to further his political agenda. The cross shows that people of Ireland valued the hierarchy and even back then, leaders constantly strived to achieve political advantage by catering to the people. Like I said before, the cross was displayed right next to the croziers. Croziers were used by bishops and abbots and are the most common type of church metalwork from the 11th and 12th centuries. Like the Cross of Cong, these croziers represented power and authority. The croziers were inscribed with the names of key political figures, just like the cross. The croziers and cross represent the Irish kings who were patrons of the church who held political power during the 12th century. 

– Johnny Prinner



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