by Artist Eye
Beauty So Ancient and So New
In the ruins of the monastery of Monasterboice, Ireland, there is a nineteen-foot carved sandstone cross from the tenth century known as Muiredach’s High Cross. The central panel of the cross’s west face shows a crucifixion scene with a young beardless Christ on the cross. As is typical of medieval Irish depictions, He is the Christus Triumphans type; He is shown alive and without suffering. Above his outstretched arms there are two angels.
These two angels have appeared in crucifixion scenes for centuries. Often when the details of their features are more clearly articulated, they are shown distraught with grief over the suffering of their Lord. The softened abstraction of what remains of Muiredach’s High Cross suggests a different attitude to me. I imagine the attentive affection of the heavenly ones as they brood over their Love laid slain; an affection resisting despair and poised to rejoice at the renewal they await; an attitude I hope they still bear today when they look down and contemplate the troubles of our times.
Photo copyright © Mary Ann Sullivan.