This post is dedicated to my Mom.
What if I told you there was a priceless ancient work of art and relic that’s still in existence and just lost? It was the subject of an address and paper published by Lawrence E. Tanner for the Journal of the British Archaeological Association in 1954.
The artifact is the Cross of Edward the Confessor (1042 – 1066), and it was recovered from his shrine at Westminster Abbey during the coronation of King James II (1644–85). The story of its initial discovery is exciting, but it’s whereabouts after crossing the English Channel is where the mystery begins. It was given as a gift to Pope Benedict XIII in 1729 but then disappeared. After the death of Pope Benedict XIII, inquiries were made to the Vatican re: it’s whereabouts but those searches were unsuccessful.
“From the date of its presentation to Pope Benedict XIII on June 17th, 1729, to the present day no trace has ever been found of the cross of St. Edward. The interesting fact of the presentation, recorded among the Stuart Papers, has only come to light in recent years, and it caused the late dean of Westminster (Dr. de Labilliere) to make inquiries through the late Sir Eric Maclagan and the Apostolic Delegate whether or not anything was known at the Vatican about the cross. The Vatican authorities took the greatest interest in the matter and instituted a thorough search in the hope of being able to throw some light on the subject. A letter, now amongst the Abbey Muniments, states that ‘the cross is not in the Vatican Museum, nor in St. Peter’s, nor in the Vatican Galleries, nor in St. John Lateran, nor with the Dominicans (of whose order was Pope Benedict XIII)’. It also states that the diaries of the Papal Masters of Ceremonies had been searched in which mention was found ‘of the visits of British sovereigns and also of the Confirmation of the Prince and of the gifts and kindness of the Pope, but not a word about a cross or gold chain.'”
The Quest for the Cross of St. Edward the Confessor by Lawrence E. Tanner
Edward the Confessor and John the Evangelist (New Liturgical Movement)
Edward the Confessor Shrine (Official Westminster Abbey Postcard)
A quote from Faith of Our Fathers by Joseph Pearce:
“The most ambitious project he [Edward the Confessor] undertook was the founding of Westminster Abbey, which would become and has remained the place for the coronation of the kings and queens of England. It was completed and consecrated shortly before his death and became his place of burial, his tomb and relics being undisturbed to this day, having survived the ravages of the Reformation with its iconoclastic destruction of England’s shrines to her saints.”
King James II was the last Catholic monarch of England, Scotland, and Ireland.