The crucifix of Saint Marcel

«As any precaution had become worthless, and earthly remedies gave no more benefit». The crucifix of Saint Marcel in Rome from Counter-Reformation to the Coronavirus
By David Armando

This article examines the history of the wooden crucifix of Saint Marcel, which became famous worldwide when it was venerated by Pope Francis during the Covid-19 pandemic. The worship of this image goes back to the end of the 16th century, when it was credited with the miraculous termination of the 1522 plague. In the context of the Counter-Reformation this myth was charged with meanings and values – such as the link between sin and plague, the mortification of the body, the refusal of secularization, the superiority of faith over science – which connoted its ritual use over the centuries and are still associated with it today.