The McKeown Cross Collection
Aaron's, or Lismore Cross
Ireland 1.5" x 1.5" $118.
This cross was adapted from a design on a Bishop's crozier. Found in the village of Lismore, Ireland, it dates from the late 11th century and illustrates a passage from the Book of Exodus, 7:10 which descries how Aaron's staff became a serpent and devoured those created by Pharaoh's magicians. Aaron is shown wearing an Egyptian kilt and holding his staff which has become serpents.
Contemporary 1.25" x 1.25" $45.
Coronado visited Acoma in 1540 and described the city as "one of the strongest ever seen because the city was built on a high rock. The ascent was so difficult that we repented climbing to the top". This beautiful New Mexico pueblo is often described as the "Sky City".
A mission was built in 1629 under the direction of Friar Juan Ramirez. He gained entry to Acoma when he saved an infant from a fall off the edge as he approached the mesa. His safe delivery of the child back to the mother was considered a miracle.
American Southwest 2" x 1.5" $60.
The graceful leaves of acanthus mollis, a Mediterranean plant, have long inspired artists in their designs for wood carvings, wallpaper, bas relief, ceramics, musical instruments, etc. Acanthus leaves are the motif for the Corinthian capitals that grace the columns of Greek temples.
Italy (Sicily) 1" x .75" $35.
The Aeolian Isles are a chain of tiny islands that lie off the northwest corner of Sicily.
This cross was designed in silver from a large bronze cross we discovered on the island of Panarea in the fall of 2007. This island is a tiny gem, no automobiles, gorgeous scenery and wonderful, friendly people.
Viking Sweden 1.85" x .85" $50.
The art of carving runes in stone and the ornamental designs that accompany them required expert craftsmen. The fore-most of these was Asmund, who worked in Viking Sweden between 1025 to 1050 AD. His intricate carving on the Angeby stone reads:
Ragnfrid had this stone erected in memory of Björn, God and God’s Mother rest his soul. He fell in Estland (England).
This runic stone is found in the Uppland region of central Sweden.
An unusual eight-armed cross hewn from solid grey granite is situated high on a windswept pass in the Northern Pyrenees. It’s story is lost in the distant past, but it marks an important place in the history of Andorra, a tiny country caught like a small jewel between the borders of France and Spain. For several hundred years it has been a landmark and symbol of safe haven for travelers in these beautiful but forbidding mountains.
Viking Isle of Man 1.75" x .75" $40.
The earliest examples of the art of carving runes in stone were discovered in the boglands of southwestern Denmark and date from the 3rd century. The Viking runic alphabet spread throughout Scandinavia and was carried, during the period of their raiding and settlement, into many areas of the Old and New World.
This cross is taken from a stone slab found at Jurby, Isle of Man, Britain. It depicts the story of Ragnarok, the apocalyptic, final battle between good and evil.
In Israel, the white blossoms of the sweet almond are the first to appear in springtime. The almond is revered for providing abundant food, medicine and oil with little human effort.
In medieval England, the gift of a few sugared almonds wrapped in netting and tied with a ribbon was a traditional baptismal gift. The almond symbolizes the expectation that the seed of God is planted within the newly baptized and may bear fruit daily to His glory.
Baptismal Cross DM-200809
Contemporary 2" x 1.5" $70.
Ireland, 800 AD 1.25" x 1.25" $86.
The Book of Kells holds a unique place
in history. Its wealth of Hiberno-Saxon illumination is extraordinary. The large manuscript of the four Gospels was probably written and illuminated on the Isle of Iona in the early 6th century. After a series of Viking raids, the monks fled the monastery in 807 AD. They took the unfinished manuscript with them to the monastery of Kells, in county Meath, Ireland, where it was finished. This cross was inspired by drawings in this beautiful book.
In Ireland, St. Bridgid is called Mary of the Gael. She died in 524 AD and is buried beside St. Patrick. She built the first Irish convent near the present town of Kildare.
St. Bridgid was the daughter of a fiercely pagan chieftain. As he lay on his death bed, she sat beside him, and while she prayed, she wove this simple cross from the rushes covering the floor. He was so comforted by her story of Christ that he became a Christian before he died. St. Bridgid's cross is believed to protect the home from evil.
Isle of Man, Britain 1.5" x 1.5" $82.
The Calf of Man is a small island to the Isle of Man. This cross is a replica on an altar fragment found in 1770. The original was carved by Celtic artists ca. 800 AD. The fineness and delicacy of their carving is unequaled for the period. The design is typically Byzantine and illustrates the influence of the Eastern church on the Celtic church.
France 1.75" x 1.25" $40.
The marshlands of the Camargue region of Southern France are a rich blend of cultural and geographical contrasts. Cowboys and fishermen, bullfights and religious pageantry, flamingos and wild houses create a colorful potpourri against a background of medieval villages, wild moors and Mediterranean vistas.
The Camargue cross, designed by painter, Paul Hermann, is generally forged in iron and graces the doorways of most homes and public buildings. The cross symbolizes faith, the anchor hope, the heart charity and the three-pronged termination of the cross, the guardians.
England 1.25" x 1.25" $45.
The Canterbury Cathedral was founded in 597 AD by St. Augustine. In 1162, Thomas Becket was elected archbishop of Canterbury; eight years later hewas murdered within the cathedral. He was canonized St. Thomas in 1173. In the 13th century the shrine of St. Thomas was built within Trinity Chapel. This cross was inspired by a floral quatrofoil design within window number eleven on the north aisle above the shrine of St. Thomas.
Caravaca Cross DM-200831PEND
Spain & Mexico 1.25" x .75" $75.
Cardinal Crosses DM-200806
Contemporary 2" x 2" $75.
The earliest appearance of the cross in human history is the simple image of equilateral crossed bars. Perhaps this symbolized the concept of earth and sky, the four directions, and combined within a circle, the sun wheel. The pivotal center point represents the creative power of God.
The cardinal points – north, south, east and west, are important in the cosmology of many cultures, especially those of the American Indian where each direction has a specific totem animal. This cross comes in 3 designs,
spiral, florentine cross, and Navajo blanket.
This cross is a design in silver inspired by traditional Celtic knotwork. The design incorporates four knotwork hearts which comprise the arms of a cross.
Ireland/Scotland 1.5" x 1.5" $50.
Ireland 2.25" x 1.25" $112.
Small Cross: 1.25 x .75 $54.
Ireland 2.75" x 1.5" $95.
Dacade, or Prayer Ring DM-200825
Contemporary 2.25" x 1.25" $85.
Jerusalem .75" x .75" cross: $29.
“Cluain Mic Nois”, The meadow of the Son of Nos, is sited on the River Shannon nine miles south of Athlone. It sits majestically on a low hill overlooking the Shannon valley. Because of its strategic location and the reputation of its monastic scholars, from about 548 AD it was the most famous of the Irish monastic cities.
Of the several sacred monograms of Christ, the Chi Rho is one of the most ancient. It is generally formed of the Greek letters “Chi “ (X) and “Rho”(P). These are the first letters of the Greek word, “XPICTOC”, which is pro-nounced, Christos.
The monogram has been styled in a variety of imaginative ways over the centuries. This Chi Rho cross was designed from an alter piece at Salisbury Cathedral, Salisbury England. In this monogram the “P” is designed to resemble a shepherd’s crook, a reminder that Jesus is the Good Shepherd.
A collection of crosses created by Byron and Deanne McKeown from their historical research on crosses and rosaries worldwide. Cast in sterling silver, gold, vermeil and embellished with precious and semi-precious gemstones, these designs are exclusive to the McKeown Galleries.
The original of this cross appeared miraculously in the Spanish town of Caravaca during the 14th century. It is said to contain a fragment of the True Cross. Caravaca is one of the oldest settlements in Spain and is the former stronghold of the mysterious Knights Templar as well as a military fortress occupied during the struggle to oust the Moors from Spain.
In Mexico, the cross of Caravaca has been a popular amulet since it was
first to the New World by Fr. Junipero Serra. It is widely believed to have
special posers to grant wishes and
Centuries ago a Spanish galleon sank off the coast of Ireland near the small fishing village of Claddagh. Among the artifacts modern divers salvaged from the wreck was a ring in the form of two hands holding a heart.
That design has become known at the Claddagh. For many generations it has been used as the traditional betrothal and wedding ring for the people of Claddagh Irish artists use the design in many of their creations.
The Battle of Culloden took place on 16 April 1746 near Inverness, Scotland between the British forces of King George II and the rebelling Jacobites led by Bonnie Prince Charles. The Royal troops lead by the Duke of Cumberland lost 50 soldiers in that bloody fight, while the Highland losses are uncounted, but are accessed at approximately 1,000. Although they won the day, Culloden is not remem-bered as a battle of honor for the British. It is said that after the battle the Duke pointed at a wounded Highlander and directed Major James Wolfe to shoot him. Wolfe replied that his commission was at the disposal of the crown, but not his honor.
Archaeological work at Culloden field has uncovered many personal items, but perhaps the most evocative object was a pewter cross found to the west of the Leanach enclosure just in front of the Jacobite line. This silver cross closely reproduces the original, done in the style of the Celtic stone crosses of the West Highlands.
This cross is a reproduction of an 18th century cross from Bolivia. Missionaries who came to the New World brought with them crosses which were eventually copied and recast by native craftsmen. This particular cross is molded directly from an antique native casting which was part of a rosary.,
It is identified as Jesuit by the skull which appears at the bottom.
Scotland 1.5" x 1.25" $50.
Ireland 1.25" x 1.5" $105.
The Crusader's cross was first used as a coat of arms for the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. Godfrey de Bouillon wore this cross as his symbol when he became the first ruler of Jerusalem after it was captured from the Moslems in 1099; the Crusaders also used this cross as their emblem.
The large center cross is believed to represent the person of Christ. The four small crosses are symbolic of the four gospels. Others believe that the four small crosses represent the four gates of the Old City.
This cross was adapted from a carved panel on a Bishop's crozier found in the village of Lismore, Ireland. It dates from the 11th century and shows the Viking influence on late Celtic art.
The design for this cross was inspired by many Spanish images, including the legend of El Cid, the 11th century Spanish hero.
In Burgos, there is a great Gothic cathedral which was founded in 1221 by Ferdinand III of Castile. Since 1919, the bones of the El Cid have rested there.
Traditional rosaries were forbidden in England and Wales during the Tudor period by the Statute of 1571. Many Catholics wore in secrecy a ring which allowed them to say the rosary using the cross and ten silver balls. These rings continued to be made until at least the 18th century for use by recusants who refused to attend the Church of England. They are still in use today in memory of Catholic persecution.
Fleur-de-Lis Cross DMPTD-355
France 1.75" x 1.75" $95.
This design can be found in many places long before heraldic times, as far back as Mesopotamia. It is essentially a stylized golden iris flower and has been associated with the French kings from about 1200 AD. It has also been called the Cross of Cleves.
The Fleur-de-Lis has strong religious connotations, especially with the Virgin Mary, and after the 14th century, with the Holy Trinity.
This is a contemporary Scottish cross based on the lives of the Four Apostles, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
The four arms weave around the centr which represents Christ, their leader.
Germany 1.5" x 1.25" $40.
The Cross Germania, or German Cross, is derived from an early design composed of four Latin gammas. An additional bar was added to each gamma, forming four “F”s. These letter F’s stand for the German words, frisch, fromm, frohlich, frei, or “hardy, godfearing, cheerful and free.)
American Southwest 1.25" x 1" $50.
This cross design is derived from Navajo rug patterns originating from the small Navajo community of Ganado in northern Arizona. In this area in 1878, John Lorenzo Hubble founded his first trading post. Hubble served as a bridge between the Navajo and Anglo cultures and his influence on weaving and silversmithing endures to this day. He encouraged the native weavers to use native wool and vegetal dyes and helped them to understand which of their designs would be popular in the outside world.
The bold designs and glorious reds of Ganado rugs are known and collected throughout the world.
Isle of Man, England 1.25" x 1.25" $56.
Our Lady of Guadalupe DM-200817
Mexico 1.75" x 1.25" $40.
In 1531 a "Lady from Heaven" appeared to a humble Native American at Tepeyac, a hill northwest of what is now Mexico City.
She identified herself as the ever virgin Holy Mary, Mother of God. She requested that a church be built on the site where she appeared.
This church was indeed built and Our Lady has ever after been loved and revered by Mexicans throughout the world. . The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is celebrated on December 12.
“A great sign appeared in the heaven: a woman clothed with sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.”
The original cross, called The Groundle Stone is located on the Isle of Man. It was carved ca. 400-500 AD by Pictish artists. Their ancient high cross design was translated into sterling silver.
Inis Meain Cross DM-20710
This cross is a reproduction in silver of an ancient stone found in the oratory graveyard at Kilcananagh, Inis Meain, the middle of the three Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland.
The oratory is a simple masonry church (quite small) built before 1200 AD. Several of the crosses found here combine symbols of the Virgin Mary (the star and crescent moon) with a traditional cross.
Colonial America 1.75" x .75" $45.
Jesuit Bolivian Cross DM-0003
Colonial Bolivia 2.25" x 1.25" $45.
The Navajo Nation currently comprises the largest reservation in the United States, extending into the states of Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. It covers 16 million acres of mountain and desert land with a population of over 150,000 people.
The Navajo, or Dine, are famous for their crafts, including handwoven rugs, woven from the wool of their own sheep and often colored with traditional vegetal dyes. They are also known for their beautiful silver work, utilizing techniques learned many hundreds of years ago from the Spanish and Mexicans.
This cross is a reproduction of an artifact found at the site of the Jamestown Colony near Chesapeake Bay. English colonists landed here on 14 May 1607. By the end of September of that year nearly half of the original 108 colonists had died, mostly of typhoid, dysentery and perhaps salt poisoning.
The original cross was of a black mineral stone and may have belonged to one of Jamestown's few Catholics. It speaks of their hope to create a new life in America and to convert the native peoples to the Christian Faith.
In 559 AD St. Colmcille established a monastery at Kells, located in contemporary County Meath, Ireland. In 807 monks from Iona fled to Kells, bringing with them their most sacred manuscripts, known today as the Book of Kells.
The original monastery lies in ruins, having been sacked by local and Viking raiders and finally by the Normans in the 12th century. This cross is a 17th century knotwork design taken from a gravestone at the contemporary church.
Russia 2.25" x 1.75" $117.
The Greek letters that make up this cross are: phi, omega and sigma, spelling Phos; and zeta, omega and eta, spelling Zoe.
Phos is Greek for 'light' and Zeo is Greek for 'life'. The Phos Zoe cross symbolizes the light and life of Christ. The nature of light is that it banishes darkness; this light enables us to see spiritual truth. The nature of life is the opposite of death. Human life ends, but through Christ, our spiritual like is everlasting.
This cross for this cross came from the murals and icons of the Kyiv Perchesk Lavara which is known as the Kiev Monastery of the Caves. In the mid-11-th century an Orthodox monastery was founded in Kiev by Saint Anthony of the Caves near the village of Berestove. Over the centuries the monks excavated the labyrinthine catacombs which have now become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today the catacombs are used partly as a monastery and partly as a museum. They are a complex maze and difficult to navigate. But, at closing time, monks with candles help guide lost visitors back to the entrance.
Light and Life (Phos Zoe) DM-200819
An ancient tradition speaks of the baptism of Clovis, King of the Franks, when the Virgin, (whose emblem is the lily) sent a lily by an angel as a mark of her special favor. Through time, the name Clovis was transformed to Cleves, becoming the name of a district in northwestern Germany.
The lower leaves of the lily, or iris, form the bottom of the fleur-de-lis, the emblem of France. These graceful curves are also reminiscent of a shepherds crook, king's scepter and the ritual bishop's crozier -- all symbolic of the Good Shepherd.
Lily of Cleves Cross DM-200810
American Southwest 2.75" x 1.5" $55.
A very old version of this cross was used by ancient Sumarians ca. 2200 BC to denote high rank. During the early Christian era this cross symbolized the rank of Cardinal in the Roman Catholic church..
In 950 AD the Duchy of Lorraine was created and in 1099, Godfrey of Bouillon, the Duke of Lorraine, adopted this cross as his personal symbol. It was also carried to the Crusades by the first Knights Templar.
In June of 1940 it was chosen to represent the Free France government in exile and of the maquis resistance fighters in France.
Throughout Christian history those who have sought to proselytize have relied on integrating the symbols and ideas of native peoples with those of Christianity.
Spanish missionaries to the New World brought with them the double-armed Patriarchal cross, or the Cross of Lorraine. They found that it was readily accepted by their converts and became the most favored symbol of the new religion throughout the Spanish colonies. The design was instantly recognizable to the indigenous people as it closely resembled the dragonfly, a native icon for death and rebirth.
Olive Tree Cross DM-20709
Ojo de Dios Cross DM-0206
American Southwest 1.5" x 1.5" $65.
American Southwest 2" x 1.25" $40.
Contemporary 1.5" x 1" $40.
This cross is a design inspired by the Ojo de Dios, or Eye of God weaving from Old Mexico. These traditional amulets are made by wrapping colored yarns around a cross made of wooden sticks. They are made in many sizes and although they appear very colorful and festive, the underlying intent is to afford protection from all evil.
The olive tree has a long history of symbolism - peace, fruitfulness, purification, strength, victory and reward. In Ancient Greece the tree was sacred to Athene. In Jewish and Christian tradition, the olive is a symbol of peace, and it was an olive branch which the dove brought back to Noah when the Great Flood was over. An old legend tells that Christ's cross was made of olive and cedar wood. For Islam, the olive is the central tree, the world axis, a symbol of Universal Man and of the Prophet.
The ancient Celts believed the rowan
tree to be a bearer of good fortune and
could be beneficial in driving away witches.
A rowan tree, more commonly known as the mountain ash, is often planted near the doorstep of a home. To this day, many people in Ireland and Scotland will not fell a rowan tree lest it bring them ill fortune.
This cross is a replica of the pastoral staff used by Pope Paul I, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. The original crozier was created for Pope Paul I by the prominent Italian sculptor, Lello Scorzelli, (1921 - 1997).
It makes an ideal gift for ordinations, jubilees, confirmations, first communions, profession of vows and wedding anniversaries.
Roman Sacred Cross DM-0609
The Roman Sacred Cross in an unusual interwoven design dating from approximately 400 AD.
Before 325 AD the cross was rarely used as a symbol for Christianity, but during the reign of Emperor Constantine it gradually became accepted and variations in designs appeared. The Roman Sacred Cross is comprised of equal interwoven arms with three components, symbolizing the Hold Trinity.
Colonial Peru 1.5" x .75" $30.
A double armed Patriarchal Cross with skull or sacred heart at the bottom was carried into the new World by Spanish missionaries. over many years, native peoples copied these Spanish crosses, gradually changing the original by including design elements derived from their own cultures. Because these reproductions were usually sand castings, the designs were softened and changed even further.
This 18th century replica Peruvian cross in an excellent example of artistic license, showing the addition of linear elements and a delightful adaptation of the Sacred Heart at the bottom.
England 1.25" x 1.25" $55.
The Salisbury Cross was inspired by an ornate door latch at Salisbury Cathedral, Salisbury, England.
The Salisbury area has been the center of religious activity for many thousands of years as documented by numerous burial mounds and stone circles, one of which is nearby Stonehenge.
The Cathedral itself is one of the finest examples of medieval church architecture (1220 - 1258) in Britain. The Chapter House contains the original copy of the Magna Carta.
Both crosses shown are cast in sterling silver, but can be ordered in vermeil.
Italy .65" x .65" $25. earrings $55.
This cross is represented on the flag of the Italian city of Pisa and flies above that city's famous leaning tower. It consists of an intricate cross on a red field.
New Madrid Cross DM-20701
The mining towns of the West were largely populated by single men. They came in search of gold and silver and often died having found neither.
The graveyards in these ghost towns are dotted with pauper's graves marked with nameless makeshift crosses.
This cross in designed in memory of their labors and longing for dreams often unfulfilled.
The cross is probably one of the oldest universal symbols. Crosses have been discovered in Stone Age caves, found carved on the back of ancient Celtic coins and been unearthed in the Central Asian steppes. The Ankh cross was carved as Egyptian hieroglyphics and the Indians of the New World etched cross symbols into rock faces and used them in their designs for rugs. jewelry and pottery. The cross was not recognized as a Christian symbol until the reign of the Roman emperor, Constantine, in 325 AD.
In all its permutations, the cross remains to this day a potent symbol of man's yearning for meaning in the vastness of the universe.