Chasuble (liturgical vestment) with Crucifixion Scene
Chasuble (liturgical vestment) with Crucifixion Scene
Chasuble (liturgical vestment) with Crucifixion Scene
Chasuble (liturgical vestment) with Crucifixion Scene
Chasuble (liturgical vestment) with Crucifixion Scene
Chasuble (liturgical vestment) with Crucifixion Scene
Chasuble (liturgical vestment) with Crucifixion Scene
Chasuble (liturgical vestment) with Crucifixion Scene
Chasuble (liturgical vestment) with Crucifixion Scene
Chasuble (liturgical vestment) with Crucifixion Scene

c. 1400, 16th ct.

Material
Textile

Collection
Dom Museum Wien

Inv.Nr.
I/1

Textile
Embroidery
Medieval art

On view

Query
Reproduction request
Loan request

Photo: Leni Deinhardstein, Lisa Rastl, Dom Museum Wien
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Chasuble (liturgical vestment) with Crucifixion Scene

This precious liturgical vestment consists of two medieval parts, which were joint in Baroque times and bears many symbols.

A chasuble is the outer vestment worn by the priest for Mass. This piece in the Vienna Dom Museum consists of two different textile elements: an embroidered cross on a base of red satin. The cross seems originally to have been part of another chasuble and was probably mounted on this one only in the Baroque era.

There are unusual ornaments that stand out from the red fabric; a closer look reveals two different motifs: a cradle grate and stone tongs. Both are equipment used in construction to lift up materials of substantial size. But unlike the way they were used in the Middle Ages, they are not shown attached to a hoisting crane, but are held by a hand in a wide dark sleeve with a light-colored seam, which extends from behind a bank of clouds, suggesting that the construction is helped by God himself. The unusual motif makes it plausible to assume that the chasuble was donated by a fraternity of stone masons. The cross is worked in intricate raised embroidery in gold and silver. It shows the crucified Jesus; above him there is God the Father and below there are Saint Mary and John the Evangelist with the Apostles Peter and Paul to the left and right and, on the bottom edge of the cross, Saint Martin cutting his cloak in half.

A chasuble is a vestment of high symbolic value—it stands for the love of Christ. The priestly ritual of dressing for Mass, the use of prestigious colors like gold, precious materials like satin, and intricate, labor-intensive techniques like raised embroidery all underscore this significance. As priests in the Middles Ages and beyond celebrated the Mass with their back to the people, it is not surprising that that cross is on the back of the chasuble. When, in the Consecration, the priest raised the host above his head, the body of Christ and the picture of the crucified amalgamate into a visual unity that fully symbolizes Christ’s death in self-sacrifice.