King Louis IX Carrying the Crown of Thorns

Date: ca. 1245–48

Geography: Made in Tours, France

Culture: French

Medium: Pot-metal glass and vitreous paint

Dimensions: Overall: 21 11/16 x 13 15/16 in. (55.1 x 35.4 cm)

Classification: Glass-Stained

Credit Line: The Cloisters Collection, 1937

Accession Number: 37.173.3


King Louis IX of France (r. 1226-70), later Saint Louis, undertook two crusades to the Holy Land. He acquired relics of Christ's passion from his cousin, the Latin emperor of Constantinople Baldwin II, most notably a piece of the True Cross and also the Crown of Thorns. He brought these relics to Paris and installed them in the Sainte-Chapelle, a church that he had built to house them. According to a contemporary chronicle, on the way to Paris Louis stopped at Sens, where the Crown of Thorns was placed in the cathedral overnight. This panel shows Louis at Sens with his brother and some courtiers. Clad in simple clothes, the crowned King Louis carries the extraordinary relic atop a chalice.