Did you know the Celtic cross had its origins in Ireland and spread as an early symbol of Christianity through the British Isles?
There is a legend of how Saint Patrick was preaching to some soon-to-be-converted heathens, when he was shown a sacred, standing circle stone that was marked with a pagan circle or wheel, symbolic of the moon or the sun. Patrick made the sign of the Latin cross on the stone and blessed the stone, effectively creating the first Celtic cross.
The story, like many early legends, has a kernel of truth reflected in it. The early missionaries of the early church in the British Isles sought to Christianize the people by including the symbols which were familiar to them, not destroying things they knew. The inclusion of symbols and traditions in Christian teachings taught of the overflowing love of Christ. The circle, a symbol of the cycle of the sun and moon, the seasons and life, used by people of a pre-Christian world is used throughout the Christian Church. We find circles in the Host, our communion wafers, the Advent wreath and in stained glass windows.
The Celtic cross is a familiar sight throughout the countries of Wales, Scotland, Ireland and England. The circle speaks of God’s love, with no beginning or end. The open space allows light to be shed on the suffering of the cross.
Celtic crosses are part of our Anglican tradition. There are several Celtic crosses throughout our parish. Can you find them?
I look forward to having conversation with you when I return from pilgrimage, to hear where you found the Celtic crosses in our parish.
Peace, Deacon Jackie+