Clonmacnoise, the city of the seven churches, was established in 548 AD and existed for a thousand years. At its height, it was a busy significant center, a university city on a key Irish thoroughfare, the River Shannon. Today it appears to be a quiet ruined monastery. Such a university city—of which Ireland had many—was a hub for classical and theological learning, as well as for the arts, calligraphy, design, and the manufacture of gold and silver. For once, at least, Ireland captured the attention of the entire world as the great seminary of Christian and classical learning, according to Kuno Meyer, the German scholar who taught Irish at the University of Liverpool at the turn of the century.
St. Ciaran, a Donegal-born man with a Co. Kerry mother, established a monastery there in the year 548 AD. This flourished and thrived, and by the year 800 AD, a Gaelic poet was recorded:
Ailill the king is vanished,
Vanished Croghan’s fort,
Kings to Clonmacnoise now,
Come to pay their court little places taken,
First by twos and threes,
Are like Rome reborn, Peopled sanctuaries.
(Trans. Frank O’Connor in Kings, Lords and Commons, New York, 1959)
The Cross of the Scriptures was carved and built possibly around 800 AD. It features intricate carvings of biblical and modern scenes, as well as creatures and birds. An ecclesiastic and a warrior are depicted in one panel on the east face holding swords and a staff with foliage or flowers in between them. It is intriguing to consider that this might represent St. Ciaran’s staff and that the panel might illustrate a swearing on the staff, a tradition whose existence is recorded but whose specifics have been lost.
The Last Judgement is shown at the center on the East face, and on the West face, the Crucifixion. There is a lovely touch at the bottom of the West shaft where there is a panel showing Our Lord’s body in the tomb. Two snoozing soldiers are sitting on the tomb while in his mouth a small bird breaths life – symbol of his imminent Resurrection.
- Double-sided replica cross.
- Unisex, crafted for men and women.
- Height: 1.46 inches.
- Width: 0.63 inches.
- Handmade and hallmarked in Ireland.
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