The celestial cross is a prominent motif in Old English texts, and, rather than deriving from a single specific source, the figure provides a case study with implications for understanding the variety of backgrounds that often contribute to Anglo-Saxon conceptions of specific literary images. Tracing the development of the motif from its early Christian origins to its role in Anglo-Saxon England reveals a persistent correlation to eschatology, the importance of the liturgy in its dissemination, and a complex matrix of associations that must be accounted for in considering the Old English settings in which the image exists. An examination of these literary settings further helps to interpret the ways in which Anglo-Saxon authors used this matrix of associations for the celestial cross in their conceptions of the Judgement Day.
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