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Holy Week 2016: A brief look at the Cross of Cloyne

The Cross of Cloyne


The Cross of Cloyne can be viewed in the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin. It dates from the early twelfth century, and is a gilt-bronze cross with each arm depicting a differing figure of Christ. This is a particular type of cross which is known as a “Pax” (the Latin word for Peace). In the liturgy, the pax would be kissed by the celebrant during Mass, then passed to the deacons who in their turn venerated it and then circulated it for further veneration among the congregation. This tradition is relived on Good Friday in our own day when we, the people of God, mindful of how Christ loved us to the end, approach the wood of the cross and with all our love, adoration, in gratitude to Christ and confession of our faith in Him, embrace it. We return our love to Him who had “no greater love” than to give His life for us, His friends.

The Cross of Cloyne was found in the precints of St Colman’s Cathedral Cloyne.

Drawing of St Colman’s Cathedral Cloyne where the Cross of Cloyne was found. The Cross is now housed by the National Museum of Ireland


Good Friday:  Veneration  of the Cross of Christ

The cross of Christ can never be adequately written about in human language only contemplated in the silent language of love. And that is the almost desolate silence, that spirit of profound reflection and meditation that sweeps through the entire Church on this day we call Good Friday.

Good Friday is the day that the ultimate Paschal Lamb is sacrificed and we pass from death to life through the supreme sacrifice of Jesus Christ as willed by the Father. The day the Church is born through the redemptive blood and water which flow from His side. The power of the cross to save is revealed even before Jesus dies, when the good thief is forgiven and promised a place in Heaven through His acknowledgement of who Jesus is in the worst possible circumstances (c.f. Luke 23:43). Apparent powerlessness becomes the power of mercy and emancipating love.

In the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday the priests prostrate themselves in silence before the cross, and the people silently approach a stripped and bare altar to reverence the cross. It is the only day in the Church’s year that the Mass is not celebrated; the cross is central.


St Francis’ Testament Prayer

We adore You,
Lord Jesus Christ, here,
and in all Your Churches
throughout the whole world,
and we bless You,
because by Your holy Cross
You have redeemed the world.

[This post was authored by Lisa O’Neill]

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