The High Cross Of Muiredach

Wall Hanging Christian Cross

Wall Hanging High Cross Of Muiredach

This High Cross Of Muiredach is a stunning reproduction of the original found in Monasterboice, Ireland. 1000 A.D.   This wonderful relic is crafted from bonded stone, and is abundant with biblical stores (described below). This symbol of early Christianity is a wonderful conversation piece, that is filled with history.  This wall hanging High Cross measures 12" high and weighs approximately 3 lbs.

 

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ANALYSIS OF THE HIGH CROSS OF MUIREDACH

The High Cross of Muiredach is an amazing example of early Christian architecture in Ireland. A young beardless Christ occupies the center of this High Cross. As is typical in medieval and Irish depictions, he is the Christus Triumphans type--alive and without suffering. Above his arms are two angels. Above and below the center scene of the High Cross are spiral bosses and intertwined animals.

In the center of the High Cross, Two soldiers stand symmetrically on each side of Christ, one the spear bearer who pierces His left side while the other holds a cane with a cup, perhaps a substitute for the sponge bearer. Between the soldiers and Christ's knees are two heads, perhaps indicating the two thieves. The bird under Christ's feet represents the phoenix, a common symbol for the resurrection.

Between the spiral bosses and the two soldiers are two small figures, the one on the left (Christ's right--his "good" side) seated frontally, the one on the right (Christ's left and "bad" side) with its back turned. These probably are personifications of the sun and moon, regular features of medieval crucifixions on High Crosses.

The right cross arm of the High Cross depicts the Resurrection with guards kneeling on each side of the tomb and three angels behind them holding in a napkin a small figure representing the soul.

The top of the three bottom scenes of the High Cross shows Christ as ruler of the world, enthroned between St. Peter and St. Paul. He gives the keys to Peter on His right and a book to Paul. In the center Christ holds up His right hand as if saying to Thomas on his right, "Reach your finger here; see my hands. Reach your hand here and put it into my side. Be unbelieving no longer, but believe" (John 20:27). The figure on the right with the book may be St. John the Evangelist, who alone tells this post-resurrection story.

The bottom scene of the High Cross shows a  young beardless Christ standing in the center held by two soldiers; thus, this could be a depiction of the arrest of Christ. Because Christ is dressed in regal fashion  with a large, ornate brooch and because he carries a wand (sceptre), this may represent the mocking of Christ when the soldiers dressed Him in a purple robe and crown of thorns and gave him a mock sceptre of reed, hailing Him as "King of the Jews."

HISTORY Of Monasterboice AND THE High Cross OF Muiredach

No place in Ireland exhibits more magnificent specimens of distinctive Irish architecture than Monasterboice. The enclosure is a cemetery, and occupies the site of a religious house, founded here so far back as the sixth century by St. Buithe or Boetius. The Annals give A.D. 521 as the year of his death. The records of the foundation are tolerably complete, consisting mainly of the names and year of death of the abbots, and records of the plundering it endured. It was famous for learning and hospitality, and until Mellifont was founded ranked as the chief abbey of North-eastern Ireland.

The enclosure contains two ruined churches, the tower, three stone high crosses, and some early tombstones. One of the churches, that nearest the tower, is the more ancient, dating in all probability from the ninth century; the other is a much later structure. The tower is a very fine example, being 50 feet in circumference at the bottom and about 90 feet high. It has been shattered at the top by lightning, and is somewhat out of the perpendicular. All who can spare the time should visit Monasterboice; those who are interested in Irish art, because there they can study in situ the most superb ancient crosses which Ireland can show; and those who feel no such interest, in order that, if possible, it may be developed, and thereby a new intellectual pleasure be enjoyed. The crosses are three in number. They are elaborately carved, and although the rains and sunshine, the haps and hazards of nine hundred years have passed since they were erected, many of the carvings upon them are still clear and sharp, and they enable the observer to form a clear idea of the devotion and skill concerned in their construction. Either time has dealt with them in kindlier fashion, or their material is more endurable; at any rate they are in better preservation than their great rivals at Clonmacnoise.

These crosses are monumental, and upon one of them occurs the inscription 'A prayer for Muiredach, by whom was made this cross.' Now there were two abbots of Monasterboice who bore this name. One died in 844, the other in 923 or 924. The latter seems to have been a man of greater influence and power than the former, and this fact, coupled with other inferential evidence, has led archaeologists to assign the cross to him. Hence it is at least over 950 years old. It has been found impossible to decipher satisfactorily the meaning of all the groups of sculpture. The marvel is that they have retained so well all these centuries their sharpness of outline. Miss Stokes [4] states, 'These six subjects--that is, the Crucifixion with its type, the Sacrifice of Isaac; the empty tomb guarded by sleeping soldiers, with the types of the Descent into Hell, Samson with Lion and Bear, David with Goliath; Christ in Glory--are the only ones that have been explained out of the twenty-four panels of this monument.'

Speaking of this high cross, Mr. W. F. Wakeman, the well-known writer on Irish archaeology, states, 'Its height is exactly fifteen feet, and its breadth at the arm six. The figures of warriors and ecclesiastics and other sculpturing upon this high cross retain in a remarkable degree their original sharpness of execution. The former are invaluable, affording as they do an excellent idea of the dress both military and ecclesiastical in use amongst the Irish during the ninth or tenth century. Most of the designs on this high cross clearly refer to Scripture story. There are figures of warriors armed with swords, spears and other weapons, amongst which the axe and sling are conspicuous. The men in the High Cross, it may be observed, bear small circular targets like those in use to a late period among the Highlanders of Scotland.'

The High cross immediately in front of the tower is more slender but much higher than Muiredach's. It is about 23 feet high, and consists of three stones, a shaft 11 feet long, the central stone containing the high cross 6 feet 3 inches long, and the cap 2 feet 3 inches in height. It is 2 feet broad and 15 inches thick in the shaft. The high cross has been badly chipped where the shaft is inserted into the base, but many of the sculptures are still fairly decipherable, among them being the Fall of Man, the Expulsion from Eden, the Worship of the Magi, and the Crucifixion. When and by whom this High Cross was erected is not known.

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