I was taken aback to find a six-foot-tall Celtic cross of excellent quality in Saint James Catholic Cemetery, a tiny little burial ground in Falls Church, Virginia. I don’t know Celtic crosses too well, but a little searching quickly showed that it is a replica of Muiredach’s Cross, one of several preserved in Monasterboice, IRE. If you went to Ireland and did the full tour, you’ll have seen this one.

I’ve paired views of the Saint James Cross with the Muiredach Cross in the galleries below, and you can see how fine a reproduction it is, though at only 1/3 scale.

The Saint James Cross was cast in cement, I believe, in four pieces, a base, the shaft, the cross piece, and the top, doubtless to facilitate transport. (You can get an up-to-date resin cast by Toscano Design which ships in two pieces for $1299.00. Order yours today!)

At some point, perhaps when it was assembled in the cemetery, the central cross section was reversed from the way it is in the original. I’ve paired the major faces on the basis of the central cross sections; I’m afraid you’ll have to do a bit of scrolling to compare the minor images on the two crosses.

The most interesting thing that emerges from such a comparison is that the crucifixion image has been misinterpreted by the copying artist. See how in the original, (figure 6) Jesus is ministered by two angels hovering over his shoulders, whereas in the Saint James replica (figure 5) the artist has taken those angels to be birds perched on his arms!

Published by gsb03632

A college professor living in Arlington, VA

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