The Two Saints panels from Boppard in the Burrell Collection

The two panels in the Burrell Collection from the Boppard Window with Standing Figures
The two panels in the Burrell Collection from the Boppard Window with Standing Figures

The two panels in the Burrell Collection from the Boppard Window with Standing Figures, depict St.Cunibert, on the left, and a Bishop Saint, on the right. While not all scholars agree, it is possible that the unidentified bishop is St. Severinus, Archbishop of Cologne and patron saint of Boppard. Both saints are shown with their crosiers (the stylized staff of office – the pastoral staff) and holding a book. St. Severinus is also sometimes shown with a model of the church he founded at Cologne, and that is missing from the Boppard panel.

Saint Severinus was the third Bishop of Cologne, living in the later 4th century. He was originally from Bordeaux, France and in 376 is said to have founded a monastery in the then Colonia Agrippina in honour of the Martyr Saints Cornelius and Cyprian, from which developed the later Basilica of St. Severin. He was a prominent opponent of Arianism, which asserted that the Son of God was a subordinate entity to God the Father. The bones of Saint Severinus are now in a gold shrine in St Severin’s Church in Cologne.

Cunibert was made Archdeacon of Trier and then elevated to the Diocese of Cologne, where he was made Bishop of Cologne in 623, then Archbishop in 627. He is depicted complete with his attribute, a dove. According to legend, while Archbishop Cunibert was saying mass, a dove descended and alighted first upon his shoulder and then upon a tomb. The tomb proved to be that of Saint Ursula, the 4th or 5th century princess who sailed from Britain to join her future husband, a pagan governor, along with 11,000 virginal handmaidens. On a pre-marriage pan-European pilgrimage, and joined by the Pope and the bishop of Ravenna, she and all her 11,000 handmaidens were slaughtered by Huns as they travelled to Cologne. There are several versions of the story – dramatically different! She almost certainly didn’t actually exist as a historical figure, but was still venerated enough for a church to be built in her honour and for her legend to grow and inspire some beautiful art, including the Burrell Collection tapestries below.

 

Left tapestry from Scenes from the Legend of St. Ursula - Middle Rhineland, Germany, late 15th century
Left tapestry from Scenes from the Legend of St. Ursula – Middle Rhineland, Germany, late 15th century

 

Right tapestry from Scenes from the Legend of St. Ursula - Middle Rhineland, Germany, late 15th century
Right tapestry from Scenes from the Legend of St. Ursula – Middle Rhineland, Germany, late 15th century

These tapestries, not currently on display, show “Scenes from the Legend of St. Ursula”. They were made in the Middle Rhineland in Germany at the late 15th century. The top tapestry shows St. Ursula and her betrothed, embarking the ships at the start of their pilgrimage, and the slaughter by the Huns below. They are made of wool and linen, and contain metal threads.

 

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