From the earliest times, utensils and vessels of metal have been used in the liturgical rites of the Church. In the 3rd century there were donations to the Roman basilicas of golden chalices. To this period also belong bowls of silver for chrism and statuettes of precious metals. The altar and ciborium were adorned with gold and silver. Silver was used for the iconostasis, and lamps of gold, silver, and bronze illuminated the churches. The statues were either carved or made of wood overlaid with gold. The Byzantine work showed Oriental influence in the use of cloisonne enamel. In the 6th century gold work adorned with verrotorie cloisonnee (glass mosaic) was made in the West. Later the art of metal hammering was introduced. Workers of great skill were found among the monks. The Romanesque period (1050-1250) is the golden age of metal-work. Copper took the place of gold and champleve replaced cloisonne. The popular tendency was shown in the introduction of secular types of decoration. Metal was cast for making doors and fonts. The Gothic period revived the use of silver and introduced a translucent enamel. The tendency was for lightness and mobility of form. The arts had gradually passed into the hands of the laity. Cast bronze was used for candelabra and lecterns. Splendid doors were produced in France. During the Renaissance the most distinguished sculptors in Italy worked in bronze. For a long time the Gothic forms persisted, but the ornament was copied from antique models. The metal-work of the baroque period is clumsy in design; in the period of classicism the style is over rigid. The revival of the styles of medieval art in the 19th century has been beneficial to ecclesiastical metal work.
- “metal-work in the service of the Church”. . Saints.SQPN.com. 19 August 2010. Web. 30 January 2015. <http://saints.sqpn.com/metal-work-in-the-service-of-the-church/>