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Crux Gemmata

Why did the Celts decorate their crosses? Let's take a little trip through the ages to find the inspiration that sparked the Celtic imagination: To begin with, the pre-Christian Celts already had a tradition of decorative stone carving. The Picts chisled spirals, key patterns, and other designs into boulders that possibly served as boundary and land markers.  In the 8th century, more and more slabs featured large cross shapes filled with spirals, keys, and intricate interlaced knotwork. This coincided with Irish Gaels and Anglo-Saxons pushing into Pictish lands, bringing Christianity along with them. Aberlemno Cross Slab ( Anne Burgess / Aberlemno Cross ) The Irish high crosses, as I explained in my last post , often displayed saints, biblical figures, and Christ surrounded by a ring which could represent the victory wreath, eternal life, or the cosmos. These concepts and imagery travelled along with clerics, missionaries, and pilgrims from Rome, Jerusalem, and perhaps even Egypt.
Recent posts

The Cosmological Cross

  Why are some Celtic crosses surrounded by a ring shape? If you ask this on an internet forum, the stock answer is that it's a leftover from the time of sun worship: some sort of compromise with the pagans. I have even heard it asserted that Celtic crosses existed before Christianity. So, I set out to find whether this was true. Turning to art history and archaeology, I found that there are no carved stone crosses in Ireland or Britain before the 8th century.  The earliest surviving Irish standing high crosses, Pictish stones with crosses and Christian motifs, and the Northumbrian crosses all date to around 800 A.D. This is centuries after the Gospel was first proclaimed in the British Isles, well after the establishment of monasteries, and over 100 years after the Synod of Whitby. The term "sun cross" was coined after World War II and refers to European Bronze Age sun chariot wheels created by sun worshiping cultures. As you can see, these are quite different objects al

A Tailcenn Will Come Over the Raging Sea

Book of Armagh, Folio 54 [ie 55]r I wonder sometimes how St. Patrick so thoroughly won over the Irish for Christianity during his time.  It was the Holy Spirit of course, because no such thing can be accomplished by advertising or slick social media campaigns, especially not during the 5th century. Were they expecting someone like Patrick to come? In the book of Armagh (7th century) we find a biography of St. Patrick by Muirchu who claims King Loegaire's druids, Lochia and Luchat Mael prophesied: "A Tailcenn* will come over the raging sea, with his perforated garment, his crook-headed staff, With his table at the east end of his house, and all his people will answer 'Amen, Amen.'" *bald-head, referring to the Roman clerical tonsure When St. Patrick and his missionary companions finally landed in Ireland and began their ministry, Loegaire, the High King, summoned all of his chieftains and druids to a great feast on the Hill of Tara. Patrick saw a golden opportu

A Radio Interview, and What Celtic Art Means to Me

Easter greetings, everyone! Here’s a recently finished Celtic knot cross; my latest in a series of Celtic motif paintings. I’ve also just completed a major update to my website. While I love all styles of medieval art from Mozarabic to International Gothic, I’ve changed my quatrefoil logo to a Celtic knot logo to reflect my particular love for the Early Christian Art of the British Isles. I think Celtic knotwork speaks of the eternal—  the underlying harmony and order of the universe necessary for life and beauty to flourish.  I’ve been wanting to write more on the subject, especially in response to some great content on Substack recently, but some technical difficulties kept me from easily sharing my Blogger posts.  That’s solved now, but my domain name “” redirects here to my old Blogger handle “”  That seems somehow appropriate these days. I don’t want to jump onto a trendy new platform; I’d prefer my articles remain accessible to everyone and

Happy St Patrick's Day

I painted some Celtic style art this past week to place in my neighborhood for my neighbors to find and take home.  I haven't painted in a while, but I felt inspired by some combination of Art and Found Day, my great enthusiasm for St. Patrick's Day, and by the volunteers who have been working hard to clean up trash in my part of the city.  I really wanted to give something back to this community and add to the beauty of it in some small way. It was fun to find places to hide them; especially since I love labyrinths, and we happen to have a couple small ones in the corner of a local park. Whoever found each one, I hope you enjoy it! Thanks for being my neighbor!

Local Sale - Art By A.R. Danziger

Hello everyone! I've been hanging on to some of my artwork for too long. I need to sell it to make room for other projects. Local delivery only to the greater Seattle area. If you really want it shipped I'll have to charge you $50 for shipping fees and packing supplies. Please contact me at   or text 585-507-7633. Crucifixion with Old Testament Typology: Ink, watercolor, and metal leaf on illustration board. Custom frame. 17.5" x 24" $300   SOLD ------------ Seattle Apocalypse Acrylic on gessoed panel board. 16" x 20" $300 Reserved for Auction ------------ Woman Clothed with the Sun Acrylic and metal leaf on 2" deep cradled panel board. Unfinished sides. 24" x 18" x 2" $200 SOLD at North American Martyrs Parish auction. ------------ Revelation Set: The Woman Riding the Beast vs. The Wedding Supper of the Lamb Acrylic on gessoed panel board each one 12" x 12" This is meant to be a set. $25 each or $40 for b

Art Shows 2021

I'm excited to announce that my painting "Seattle Apocalypse" has been in two shows now.   The first was the Southwest Artist Showcase at the Southwest branch of the Seattle Public Library in October 2021. The second is happening right now until February 10th, 2022.  It's an online international exhibition entitled "EXTINCTION - 2021: Save the Planet", featuring art with environmental themes.   The link to the exhibition is here (I'm #27 in the ranked sort!):  Gallerium: Extinction - 2021 | Smart Online Exhibition My page where you can purchase the piece is here:  Gallerium: Extinction - 2021 | Seattle Apocalypse

La Sagrada Família / The Holy Family

I finally completed a painting I've been working on since last summer.  Poster prints on archival heavyweight paper are available here . La Sagrada Família / The Holy family by A.R. Danziger. Acrylic and metal leaf on wooden panel, 30" x 24". This will be hanging up in Holy Family Bilingual Catholic School where my daughter has been flourishing in the school's dual language (English/Spanish) immersion program. It's a very special school; Christ-centered with a family atmosphere. Their motto is: "One family, diverse in backgrounds, united in faith."  I felt inspired to work in a style that represented this vision, so I looked to early Medieval Spanish art which combined so many diverse cultures into something unique and beautiful to serve and glorify Our Lord. The outer border, angels, stars, and background colors were inspired by Mozarabic illuminated manuscripts.  This illustration from a commentary on the book of Revelation has unique decorative eleme