Bringing the Holy Land Home: The Crusades, Chertsey Abbey, and the Reconstruction of a Medieval Masterpiece

Gioia Guarino ‘23

Features Section Editor

The Prior Performing Arts Center, the new modern addition to campus, often referred to as the PAC, offers a vast array of creativity. Amongst the Worcester skyline and pockets of light that flood through the windows are students preparing for their production, taking advantage of the new cafe, and tackling their course load. 

Hosted regularly in the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery are exhibitions, with the current one entitled “Bringing the Holy Land Home: The Crusades, Chertsey Abbey, and the Reconstruction of a Medieval Masterpiece.” On display for students and off-campus visitors, the exhibit is available in the Cantor Art Gallery from January 23, 2023, to April 6, 2023. 

I walked through the exhibit this past week, inspired by my roommate, who raved about the collection after attending for her art class. The dimmed lights and textured wallpaper made the room feel like I was stepping back in time, and in a way, I was. After picking up my informational materials, I was ready to explore. For someone unfamiliar with all types of art or materials, it is especially helpful that the exhibit offers written descriptions of the works, online and in-person. 

The displays included pieces dating back to the 13th century, all a reminder of history living among us. Inspired by the medieval Chertsey Tiles from the 1200s, the gallery displays Byzantine and Islamic materials, such as ceramics, textiles, weapons, and many more. Chertsey Tiles were discovered at Chertsey Abbey, located on the outskirts of London, and were amazing to visualize. Alongside the art, student explanations and QR codes labeled the displayed art.  

I was especially drawn to the religious relics in the center of the room, specifically the Byzantine Enkolpion Reliquary Cross. Not only were these pendants beautiful, but their purpose was unbelievable; it meant to carry pieces of the True Cross! 

Although I am a second-semester senior, I must take advantage of the fantastic opportunities Holy Cross offers. The PAC supplies amazing views of Worcester and beautiful displays of art. Touring the current exhibit was my second time entering the gallery. I enjoyed comparing and contrasting the differing art displays and eras. After studying abroad, where art is at your disposal, it was comforting to return to campus and experience that similar feeling.

Among the amazing exhibits, the gallery will also host numerous events, including lectures, student presentations, and musical performances. For more information and to access the digital platform, visit https://chertseytiles.holycross.edu/

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