Mount Athos Cross

wooden cross with carved scenes of the Old and New Testament

This beautifully carved cross was made in one of the many monasteries around Mount Athos in the 17th or 18th century, and was bequeathed to The Courtauld in 1966. It was on display to the public for the first time from 30 October to 3 February 2013. We had it conserved for the occasion.

Decorated with minutely carved scenes of the Old and New Testament, it was used for the benediction of the congregation during the liturgy of the Orthodox Church. 

The intern responsible for this first Illuminating Object was Dr Eleni Dimitriadou, who completed her PhD in Byzantine art at The Courtauld Institute of Art.

a man installing the mount athos cross on a plynth in the Courtauld's Gallery

About the cross

Scholars in recent years have begun questioning and revising the provenance and dating of the so-called ‘Mount Athos’ crosses.

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mount athos cross detail, Jacob's ladder cross

Explore Side A

Each scene, identified by a relief inscription in Greek, is set underneath an arched opening and against an architectural background.

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athos cross detail, crucifixion

Explore Side B

Click on sections of the cross to reveal close-ups and read descriptions of the scene narratives. See the other side of the cross.