May 25th 2024

The 10th Century High Cross at Moone, Co. Kildare, stands almost 5m tall, making it the second tallest such cross in Ireland.   It is remarkably well preserved.  This  is due to the fact that it was buried in the ground for centuries.  On the cross are carved scenes from the Old and New Testament. Here we have the crucified Christ and beneath, the twelve apostles, presented in a stylised form that is reminiscent of other insular figurative art, yet the design is in sympathy with the hard granite with which the sculptor had to work.  The bodies of the Apostles are like the blocks of the stone from which they are carved.  Their regular arrangement conveys a sense that they are the living stones upon whose witness the Church is founded.  The sculptor puts emphasis on their heads and feet and as it is very likely that originally these figures were coloured,  the heads and feet would have stood out.  Also, at least to my eye, this panel recalls the fine carvings of the scenes of Ascension and Pentecost from Santo Domingo de Silos in Spain which were illustrated here last week and the week before, .  There the apostles are presented in two even rows.  Here the Apostles are shown in three rows of four.  Both sculptors convey a strong sense of the apostle’s unity. Another similarity with the Silos reliefs  is that directly above the apostles we see the Deity.  In the Silos carvings it was the head of Christ and the hand of God. Here it is the crucified Christ whose side is being pierced with a lance.  And of course, from the wound flowed blood and water, symbols for later Christians of the Eucharist and Baptism.  “He who saw it has borne witness — his testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth — that you also may believe” (Jn 19:34).  For me this panel is really about the witness of the Apostles who were the first to bear witness to the crucified and risen Christ and who went forth to “make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28: 19).  


Edinburgh Catholic Chaplaincy

The Catholic Chaplaincy serves the students and staff of the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier University and Queen Margaret University.

The Catholic Chaplaincy is also a parish of the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh (the Parish of St Albert the Great) and all Catholic students and staff are automatically members of this parish.

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