The Museum has a wide and varied collection of Christian objects, dating from the middle ages to today. Including metalwork, stained glass, textiles, church furnishing and visual art.
Saints & Suffering
During the medieval and Renaissance periods, saints, particularly female saints, were also venerated because of the pain or martyrdom they suffered during their lives. For people living in an age where what rudimentary medicine there was was as likely to kill as to cure you, saints, who had suffered themselves, were comforting figures and a focus for prayers for recovery.
Apocalypse & the Book of Revelation
The apocalypse comes from the Book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible, which describes the final battle between God and Satan – Armageddon. During the medieval period, scenes and images from the Book of Revelation, and the idea of the Apocalypse had a widespread influence on many aspects of culture.
Christian monasticism developed in Egypt in the 3rd century when some Christians chose poverty and isolation as a way of getting closer to God. Communities copying the strict way of life of these holy men quickly spread across Europe and became an important part of medieval European society. By the mid-12th century, there were around 500 monasteries in England.
The Hereford Screen, by Sir George Gilbert Scott, 1862
The great choir screen made for Hereford Cathedral is one of the monuments of High Victorian art and a masterpiece in the Gothic Revival style. It was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, a leading Victorian architect, and made by the Coventry metalworking firm of Francis Skidmore.
The 's-Hertogenbosch Choir Screen, by Coenraed van Norenberch, 1600 - 1613
During the 13th and 17th centuries choir screens became common features in Netherlandish churches. Of those that survive none has a more remarkable history than the choir screen from the cathedral of St John in 's-Hertogenbosch.
In 1843, Henry Cole, the V&A’s founding director, sent the world’s first Christmas card. The Museum holds in its collections a large number of Christmas-related items, including cards, toys, books, church carvings, stained glass and decorations. The Museum also regularly commissions Christmas trees from well-known designers.