A highly important Crusader seal showing Christ's tomb within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Lot 334
Canons Regular of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, circa 13th-14th centuries. Seal (Lead, 44 mm, 43.25 g, 12 h). +SIGILLVM CANONICORVM / IC - XC / NI-KA Patriarchal cross. Rev. +SANCTISSIMI SEPVLCHRI Interior view of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre showing the aedicula with view of Christ's tomb. Cf. G. L. Schlumberger: Sceau inédit de Boniface de Montferrat, in: Revue Numismatique 1886, pl. XIV, 3, Schlumberger, Sigillographie d'Orient Latin, 163-165 and pl. V, 6 and 9, and Seyrig 390 (all showing the aedicula within a cross-section of the church). Apparently unpublished and unique. A highly important Crusader seal showing Christ's tomb within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Scuff on the obverse and with some corrosion, otherwise, good very fine.

Among the holiest sites in Christianity, none surpasses the significance of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Tradition holds that it was constructed atop Golgotha, where Christ was crucified and later buried before his resurrection on Easter. According to legend, Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, ordered the demolition of the Temple of Venus on this site, leading to the discovery of three crosses, one of which was believed to be the True Cross. Despite suffering destruction, fire, and earthquakes over the centuries, much of the current structure dates back to Constantine IX Monomachos (1042-1055), with further renovations during the Crusader period in the 12th century. Under Crusader rule, the church served as the seat of the Latin patriarchs of Jerusalem and the burial place of the first eight Latin rulers of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, underscoring its political significance. Our seal likely depicts the inner aedicule within the church, housing the grave of Christ, a focal point for Christian pilgrims.

Regarding the Canons Regular of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, this religious order was likely established under Jerusalem’s first crusader ruler, Godfrey of Bouillon. Similar to monastic orders such as the Benedictines, the canons regular lived in religious communities guided by the Rule of St. Augustine. However, unlike monastic orders, whose focus was removal from the world for a life of prayer and contemplation, the focus of canons regular was on active preaching and ministry beyond their own community. The Canons Regular of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre expanded its presence in the Holy Land, including a priory on the Mount of Temptation, and later spread across Europe after the fall of Jerusalem to Saladin in 1187. Despite this setback, the order persisted, relocating to Cyprus before establishing branches in Italy, Belgium, England, and Poland, where it endured until the 19th century, when its last General, Tomasz de Nowina Novinski, passed away in 1830. Our seal, differing in style from examples of the late 12th century, likely belongs to the early period after the fall of Jerusalem, when the order expanded across the Mediterranean and Europe. While its exact origin is uncertain, the seal represents a highly important sigillographic artifact from the later Crusader era, featuring a wonderful depiction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Tomb of Jesus.
10000 CHF
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8000 CHF
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22000 CHF
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