St. Louis Brings the Crown of Thorns to Paris


Circa 1226-70
Stained glass
The Cloisters, New York City

These panels closely follow the Historia susceptionis coronae spineae by Gualterus Cornutus, who was Archbishop of Sens at the time when Louis entered that city with the crown of thorns in a vasculum Latin: a small vessel or dish on August 9, 1239. The king went barefoot and wore a simple tunic, as did his brother Robert. This is what is pictured in the first of these panels. In the second, the crown is displayed to the people and clergy in Paris the following week. We see a cleric standing with his arms lifted in acclamation before what Gualterus calls a "high pulpit" constructed outside the church of St. Anthony (Acta Sanctorum, August vol. 5, 356). The museum label identifies the bishop shown here as Gualterus, but the Historia says only that the crown "was exhibited." It may be more likely that the bishop in the panel is William of Auvergne, then Archbishop of Paris.

Significantly, the crown is visualized as no longer barren and thorny but a beautiful wreath of living green, a transformation that would echo the resurrection to life of its bearer, Jesus.

Also see full-resolution copies of the upper panel and the lower panel

More of St. Louis

Source: Photographed at The Cloisters by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.