Corona Votiva In the early ages of Christianity it was by no means unusual for sovereigns and other royal personages to dedicate their crowns to the use of the Church The gifts thus devoted were known as Donaria, and were suspended by chains attached to their upper rim, above an altar or shrine, or in some conspicuous part of the church. Other chains were attached to the lower rim supporting a lamp, from which usually depended a jewelled cross. The crowned cross thus suspended above the altar was felt to be an appropriate symbol of the triumphs of Christianity, and its use became almost universal.
The custom for sovereigns to dedicate their actual crowns to the church's use led to the construction of imitative crowns, formed for votive purposes alone. Of this usage we find repeated notices in ancient chronicles and documents. They are usually described as having been suspended over the altar, and very frequently mention is made of jewelled crosses appended to them.
The convenience of the form of these donative crowns for the suspension of lamps doubtless gave rise to the custom of constructing large chandeliers after the same model. In these pensile luminaries the shape and character of the royal circle were preserved, but frequently in much larger proportions.
The name pharus, though sometimes used for a corona, was more properly a standing candelabrum supporting lamps or candles, which, from their number. of spreading branches, were sometimes called arbores, trees.