John the Baptist and the Agnus Dei: Ruthwell (and Bewcastle) revisited

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Hawkes, Jane
Ó Carragáin, Éamonn
Trench-Jellicoe, Ross
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Cambridge University Press
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The identity of the figure with a lamb carved on the upper stone of the Anglo-Saxon cross at Ruthwell, Dumfriesshire, was interpreted by Paul Meyvaert (in 1982 and 1992), as an apocalyptic image of the Deity instead of John the Baptist. Close inspection of the panel, however, makes it difficult to accept such an explanation. Instead, an adaptation of the early Christian images of the Baptist is proposed, and it is argued that the details of the panel are best understood in the light of the introduction of the Agnus Dei chant into the Mass by Pope Sergius I (687–701), and of biblical commentary which saw the Baptist himself as an apocalyptic figure associated with the Lamb, the paschal sacrifice, commemorated each day in the Mass.
Ruthwell Cross , Bewcastle Cross , Ecclesiastical history , Anglo-Saxon studies , Early medieval studies
Hawkes, J., Ó Carragáin, É. and Trench-Jellicoe, R. (2001) ‘John the Baptist and the Agnus Dei : Ruthwell (And Bewcastle) revisited’, The Antiquaries Journal, 81, pp. 131–153.
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