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Legend of the Cross of St Irmgard, c.1330/40

Photo: © Dombauhütte Köln, Matz und Schenk

The mural on the south wall of the Chapel of Saint Agnes, where St Irmgard of Zutphen is buried, is in extremely poor condition and, consequently, difficult to interpret. Two representations of the crucifix surrounded by gold tracery architecture can still be seen. The corpus in the representation on the right is dressed in the typical loin cloth; the one on the left in a long tunic that covers the upper body. There are many similarities between this image and one of the most important miraculous representations of the Christian Middle Ages, namely the Volto Santo in Lucca Cathedral in Italy, a popular place of pilgrimage for many German pilgrims. This image was most likely painted as a result of the legend that says that a cross in Saint Paul’s Outside the Walls in Rome sent greetings to the Gero Crucifix in Cologne Cathedral through St Irmgard. For pilgrims from Germany who stopped to pray at the grave of St Irmgard in the Chapel of St Agnes on their way to the Shrine of the Magi, the corpus in the long tunic would immediately have put them in mind of the Volto Santo in Lucca Cathedral. As a miracle-working cross, Cologne Cathedral’s Gero Crucifix, is therefore put on a par with the most important miraculous cross in Italy and the painting in the Chapel of St Agnes is one of the most important illustrations on the pilgrims’ progress through the cathedral.

Kulturstiftung Kölner Dom Das Generationenprojekt 11.000 Sterne für den Kölner Dom ZENTRAL-DOMBAU-VEREIN ZU KÖLN VON 1842 DOMKLOSTER 4