Silver ciborium with the Adoration of the Cross (Capsella Vaticana)

Photogallery

Silver ciborium with the Adoration of the Cross  (Capsella Vaticana)
Silver ciborium with the Adoration of the Cross (Capsella Vaticana)
Chapel of St. Peter Martyr

This box, with a typical elongated oval shape, is characterized by a large convex lid decorated with a jewelled cross; on the sides there are angelic figures depicted in an attitude of worship, with the dextra Dei in the right hemisphere, reaching from above in the act of blessing, and a dove in flight in the opposite quadrant holding the crown of martyrdom in its beak. On the right side of the box, busts of Christ and two Apostles are engraved in symbolic medallions alternated with a palm tree; those of Peter and Paul, of equal shape, are aligned in the same fashion in the decoration on the opposite side. Finally, two other medallions with similar decorations, again embossed, appear at the two vertices of the container. This artefact, which dates from the reign of the emperor Heraclius (610-641), was most probably used as a Eucharistic chalice, although it has been suggested that it may have been used as a reliquary for a part of the Holy Cross, of which similar examples are known, including the famous Capsella Africana, also preserved in the Vatican Museums. This latter was found at Ain Zirara in Numidia at the end of the nineteenth century and dates from around the fifth century.