This processional cross was donated to Pope Pius IX and used during the opening of the first Vatican Council in 1869. It was born by a prelate of the papal court in front of the sedia gestatoria, the chair in which the pope was carried above the people. Unlike when carried at the front of a procession this cross was carried with the image of Christ facing the pope so he might meditate on the suffering of Jesus during the procession. Due to its size and weight this neo-gothic masterpiece has only been used occasionally since 1869.
The cross is made of silver, parts of which have been gilded. Each of the trilobed arms of the cross is edged with a fine sculptural border. The base of the cross is decorated with twelve ornate niches featuring the twelve apostles.
Conservation of this processional Cross was possible courtesy of the Minnesota chapter of the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums, 2003.