An imposing St Patrick’s Cross stands once more on the Hill of Down in the grounds of Down Cathedral and against the backdrop of the Mourne Mountains.
It’s an authentic replica of one of the oldest high crosses in Ireland, three fragments of which are on display in the entrance porch of Down Cathedral.
The event had been postponed in March due to the discovery by contractors digging the foundations for the cross in the car park.
The original dates from the late 8th Century and was most likely erected alongside one of the first monasteries on the Hill of Down. Drawings from the early 19th Century also place part of the cross at the traditional site of St Patrick’s grave before the large granite stone was placed there.
The replica was crafted by McConnell’s of Kilkeel and, like the original, is carved out of Mourne granite from Bloody Bridge, on the outskirts of Newcastle.
The cross, which weighs 5 tonnes and stands at 4.7m high, was dedicated in bright sunshine with dozens gathering for the short interdenominational service which was led by the Dean of Down, the Very Revd Henry Hull. The Bishop of Down and Dromore, the Rt Revd Harold Miller and the Roman Catholic Bishop of Down and Connor, the Most Revd Noel Treanor, together prayed the prayer of dedication.
Dean Hull said: “The cross is the central symbol of faith for all Christians and so as we gather from different traditions around this cross today we do so as an act of unity.”
Symbolic of that unity, Bishop Miller and Bishop Treanor together placed their palms in a hand–shaped imprint on the base of the cross.
Bishop Harold said that he hoped the cross would become a focal point for those who visited the site seeking faith.
Also joining the Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral were Bishop Grant LeMarquand (former Area Bishop of the Horn of Africa currently visiting the diocese), Mr Mike King (Assistant Director Museum, Arts & Culture for Down District Council), local clergy, representatives of the Holy Cross Monastery, Rostrevor, Mr Jim Shannon MP, Mr Colin McGrath MLA and other council representatives.
Bishop Noel and Bishop Harold with their hands on the cross
John Meneely, QUB and Mike King, Down Museum
St Patrick’s Cross
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