Rood (Saxon)

Rood (Saxon),

a cross or crucifix. The term is more particularly applied to the large cross erected in Roman Catholic churches over the entrance of the chancel or choir. This is often of very large size, and when complete is, like other crucifixes, accompanied by the figures of St. John and the Blessed Virgin, placed one on each side of the foot of the cross; but these are often omitted. Lights are frequently placed in front of these roods, especially on certain festivals of the Church.

Occasionally roods or crucifixes are found sculptured outside of churches, on churchyard crosses, on wayside crosses, and at the entrance of chantries and oratories. There is a much-defaced example at Sherborne Minster, in Dorsetshire.

Many churches were dedicated to the holy rood, as the abbey near Edinburgh, and at Daglingworth, Caermarthen, Bettws-y-Grog, Capel Christ, Southampton, Wood Eaton, Swindon, and others. The Church of SS. Vincent and Anastasius, after it received the addition of a transept, was called Holy Cross, from its new shape. The rood was set before the feet (of the dying, stretched on straw or ashes, emblems of mortality, and also, Beleth says, erected at the head of graves.

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