High Cross replica unveiled at cathedral

Published Wednesday, 16 April 2014
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An exact replica of a 1,100-year-old cross is being set in place at Down Cathedral on Wednesday, to replace the original relic which was moved to a local museum.

High Cross replica unveiled at cathedral
The original cross dates back to 900 AD. (© UTV)

The original Downpatrick High Cross, which was carved out of granite as a 'prayer in stone' by local craftsmen around in 900 AD, was moved late last year for preservation and display in an exhibition at the nearby Down County Museum.

The replica, which is a perfect copy, was made by County Down stonemasons, S McConnell & Sons, using state of the art computer technology to shape granite blasted from Thomas Mountain in the Mournes.

The installation of the replica comes in time for Downpatrick's Easter celebrations.

The cross depicts the arrival in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday of Jesus, riding on an ass, with his arm raised in blessing.

The head of the cross shows the Crucifixion of Christ, flanked by the spear-bearer, sponge-bearer and the two thieves, who were given their own names in Irish in the 8th century.

Its first location is believed to have been the early medieval monastery on the Hill of Down.

Following the Reformation, the High Cross was taken down and was used as Downpatrick's market cross, suffering damage in a busy town centre location before being dismantled and its parts dispersed around the town.

In the 1890s the parts were gathered together by Francis Joseph Bigger and reconstructed outside Down Cathedral, with the help of subscriptions from donors.

© UTV News
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