Coventry Cathedral and its Cross of Nails

Coventry Cathedral – Also Known as St. Michael’s :

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Coventry Cathedral © Travelsignposts


Coventry was an armaments centre during World War II and as such it was a prime target for German bombing raids.  Much of the city, including Coventry Cathedral, was destroyed by the German Luftwaffe during the Coventry Blitz in 1940.

Rebuild of Coventry Cathedral

There are many churches and cathedrals in Britain, but Coventry’s Cathedral is one with the message of Reconciliation and Hope.

After the war, against the feelings of most people, the Cathedral Community resolved that the Christian message of forgiveness should be followed in the rebuild of the Cathedral. Maintaining the biblical imperative to “love thy enemies”, they wanted to extend the hand of friendship to those with whom they had been at war.

Basil Spence, the architect chosen for the design of the new Coventry Cathedral, insisted that the ruins of the old cathedral should be kept as a “garden of remembrance” and the new cathedral built alongside it.

Cross of Nails

Three medieval nails which were rescued from the rubble of the ruined cathedral were welded together with a “Cross of Nails”. As soon as the war was over, crosses were sent to the German cities of Dresden, Kiel and Berlin whose people had also suffered and where major churches had been destroyed.

Firm and lasting relationships were cemented and symbolized by the building of the new Cathedral which was completed in 1962. The Cross of Nails has become a symbol of peace and reconciliation across the world. There are now over 160 Cross of Nails centres all over the world, all of them bearing a cross made of three nails from the ruins, similar to the original one.

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St. Michael and the Devil © Travel Signposts

The friendships and story continue to be an inspiration and example to hundreds of communities as they emerge from their own situations of conflict.

Coventry Cathedral is also known as St. Michael’s Cathedral. At the front wall of the Cathedral is the dramatic bronze sculpture  of St. Michael the Archangel and his Victory over the Devil.

There are many interesting features of the old cathedral that can be seen within the roofless ruins, including sculptures such as:

Wooden Cross at the Altar – When the cathedral stonemason saw two wooden beams lying in the shape of a cross on an altar of rubble, he tied them together. A replica of the wooden cross was built in 1964 and has replaced the original which is now kept in St. Michael’s Hall below the new cathedral.

The Reconciliation sculpture in front of the Girdlers’ Chapel – an identical copy of which has been placed in the Peace Garden in Hiroshima on behalf of the people of Coventry.

The Ecce Homo statue representing Christ before Pilate with his hands bound and a crown of thorns upon his head.

We didn’t go into the new Cathedral as time did not permit.

Map of Coventry:

What questions does this raise for you?

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