Nuestra Señora de Atocha (1622)
circa 1550 – 1620
On this gold and pearl crucifix - open-galleried of triangular section - a Christ figure is mounted as a separate piece, fixed with gold pins at the hands and feet. The open body of the cross was almost certainly designed to hold wood symbolic of the “true cross” upon which Christ was crucified. A scroll above Christ’s head reads “INRI” (“Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum”); Latin for “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” There are six pearls, two of which are fused together by concretion, suspended by gold wire from loops at the end of each arm and the bottom of the cross. The use of pearls became increasingly widespread in the first half of the seventeenth century: In addition to their decorative value, pearls were used as a symbol for salvation, and they also represented tears and emotion. The back of the crucifix is inscribed with a scrolling vine motif, the vine being a popular symbol for the relationship between God and the faithful, and where the arms intersect, a crown of thorns.