This reliquary cross is a stunning example of Limousin goldsmithery. It was created in the early 13th century and its purpose was to protect fragments of a so-called Real Cross.
The cross is decorated with golden silver filigree and embedded with rubies, emeralds, and amethysts. Between its relic compartments, on either crossing, is a blue cameo with the emperor’s head on it.
The cross seems to have belonged to the Saumur Grandmontine priory, located 2 kms from les Cars. In the beginning of the 17th century, when this small priory no longer existed, the cross was sent to Les Cars castle. The lord of Les Cars had the cross’s silver footrest made. It is engraved with the Pérusse family coat of arms.
In 1682, François de Pérusse, count of Les Cars and grandson of Geoffroi de Pérusse, solemnly gave the cross to the village church. In 1706, he tried to get it back and return it to the castle but he gave up in order to avoid being excommunicated.