Revere Auctions
Live Auction

January Day 1: Around the World in 365 Lots

Tue, Jan 24, 2023 11:00AM EST
Lot 265

18th c. Yew Irish Penal Cross w/ Rooster

Estimate: $1,500 - $3,000

Bid Increments

Price Bid Increment
$0 $25
$300 $50
$1,000 $100
$3,000 $200
$5,000 $500
$10,000 $1,000
$20,000 $2,000
$50,000 $5,000
$100,000 $10,000
$500,000 $25,000
$1,000,000 $50,000
$10,000,000 $100,000
Irish yew wood penal cross, ca. 1788. Due to penal laws prohibiting Catholics from worshipping or possessing a crucifix, narrow crosses such as these were created which allowed easy concealment.

It is thought that these crosses were associated with the pilgrimage site of St. Patrick's purgatory at Lough Derg in County Donegal. They were made and sold here to visiting pilgrims. Along the front is a carved figure of Christ flanked by a spear and a ladder. The sides of the cross are incised with a hammer, crossed bones, and multiple scourges, each with three lashes. Along the rear there is a rooster and a pot. This references an Irish folklore telling of Judas from the Gospel of Nicodemus. In the story, Judas returns home after betraying Christ and finds his wife roasting a chicken. He asks his wife to give him rope so he can hang himself, for he is sure Christ will rise from the dead in three days as he had foretold. His wife said that there is as much chance of Jesus rising from the dead as there is this dead rooster jumping out of the pot. As the words left her lips, the rooster jumped from the pot, clapped its wings, and crowed three times "The son of the Virgin is safe/risen."

Height: 7 1/2 in x width: 2 in x depth: 1/2 in.


The cross is in fair condition with no major cracks or losses that would affect the overall piece. As expected from its age and use, heavy wear throughout; dust collected to the surface, particularly to recessed areas. The cross is burned along the top and bottom. There are two lines of cracks to the bottom of the cross. Along the reverse, there is a loss to the bottom as shown in the lot listing. When inspected under UV light, there is no visible sign of restoration. Please contact us for a detailed condition report. Please note that the lack of a condition statement does not imply perfect condition. Email with any condition questions.

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