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Document Details :
Title: The Ruthwell Cross and the Dream of the Rood
Subtitle: Signposts for Pilgrims
Author(s): PEZZINI, Domenico
Journal: Studies in Spirituality
Volume: 17 Date: 2007
This essay deals with a monument, the Ruthwell Cross, and two connected poems, one short carved on the stone cross, and another much longer known as the Dream of the Rood extant in a codex presently at Vercelli (Italy). Through an analysis of the iconographic programme of the sculpture and the texts of the two poems, I try to describe their global interconnected meaning under the heading of a dynamic idea of Christian life conceived as a ‘pilgrimage of faith and desire’. In this journey the cross becomes a signpost indicating both doctrine and moral life, the ‘sacrament’ of God’s love and the ‘exemplum’ of how the believer should respond to God’s action. All this is illustrated through a reading of the figurative panels of the monument, the short stanzas of the poem carved on it, and the more diffused elaboration of the Dream of the Rood. In these three ‘texts’, created in a context of monastic mysticism and missionary fervour, words and images admirably combine to preach the gospel of the cross, in which death and life, sorrow and joy are but the two sides of the Paschal Mystery which every Christian is invited to re-enact in his/her daily life.