Researchers discovered 5 centuries old illuminated prayer rolls of the ‘Cult of the Cross’

Fareeha Arshad
Photo byPhoto by Matthieu Pétel on Unsplash

Researchers have rediscovered a Christian prayer roll from five centuries ago, an illuminated manuscript accompanied by rich decorations. This relic from the final years of Catholic doctrine in England is a rare find, as prayer rolls of this kind rarely survive to the modern-day in one piece.

This newly analyzed roll shows signs of abrasion, suggesting it was regularly unfurled and kissed by worshippers, representing a devotional act to experience Christ's Passion more directly and powerfully.

The prayer roll, dated between 1505 and 1535, is linked to Bromholm Priory in Norfolk, an abbey founded in the early 12th century. It is thought to have been painted in Bromholm and depicts Christ on the Rood, among other religious illustrations that fill out our historical appreciation of the 'cult of the Cross'.

Prayer rolls were easier and cheaper to produce than bound books, but because they did not have covers like books, they were much less likely to emerge unscathed from the ravages of history. For that reason, this incredibly well-preserved prayer roll is almost a miraculous discovery all of its own – especially for its historical proximity to the lore of the True Cross.

The prayer roll dates to just before the Reformation transformed European church life. Only a few ruins of Bromholm Priory remain today, but it was once a well-known medieval pilgrimage site because it was believed to hold a miraculous fragment of the True Cross upon which Jesus Christ was crucified.

The sacred fragment in Bromholm's crucifix – known as the Rood of Bromholm – has long since been lost to history. However, the newly resurfaced prayer roll, thought to have been painted in Bromholm, helps to fill out our historical appreciation of the cultural artefacts and rituals of this chapter of the Christian religion.

The survival of such a magnificent structure for over 500 years is remarkable, especially given that it was prone to wear and damage in use, especially over centuries. The document is described in the Journal of the British Archaeological Association and is the public's first glimpse at this little-seen religious medieval document.

This is original content from NewsBreak’s Creator Program. Join today to publish and share your own content.

Comments / 203

Published by

I am a scientist by profession and a historian by passion. I mostly write about history and science.

Texas State

More from Fareeha Arshad

Comments / 0