Cross of Wales is a ‘focus of unity’ - Archbishop
The Cross of Wales, given by His Majesty King Charles as a centenary gift to the Church in Wales, was described as a “hugely significant ecumenical symbol” and a “focus of unity” by the Archbishop of Wales at its formal presentation last week.
The Cross, which led the Coronation procession at Westminster Abbey on May 6, includes a relic of the True Cross, given to the King by Pope Francis to mark the Coronation.
Since the Coronation the Cross has been in the care of the Goldsmiths’ Company, who led on its commissioning, and have displayed it at Goldsmiths’ Hall in the City of London. It was presented to the Archbishop of Wales, Andrew John, by the Prime Warden of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, Professor Charles Mackworth-Young, at a short ceremony at Goldsmiths’ Hall on January 25. The retired Roman Catholic Archbishop of Cardiff, George Stack was also present.
In his speech receiving the Cross, Archbishop Andrew said, “When the Cross of Wales led the Coronation procession into Westminster Abbey on May 6th, it was a moment of huge significance in very many ways.
“In that historic event, witnessed by some four hundred million people around the world, Wales was given a place of honour scarcely imaginable in earlier years.
“With the new King having been led in to the Abbey behind this magnificent symbol, the congregation who were present, and those watching and listening around the world, heard the great bass baritone, Sir Bryn Terfel, sing the Kyrie, not – as is customary – in Greek, but in the Welsh language: “Arglwydd Trugarha, Crist Trugarha, Arglwydd Trugarha” set to the inspiring music of the Welsh composer Paul Mealor, who is himself a devout Christian.
“Later in the service, the Veni Creator Spiritus was sung, not in the traditional English translation, but also in Welsh again, as well as Irish and Gaelic, further evidence of the unprecedented respect being shown to the Celtic cultures.
“Together with the inclusion of the performance by the Welsh Royal Harpist, Alis Huws – who is here today – and the music of Sir Karl Jenkins, there could be no greater sign of how things have changed, and that Wales has finally been given its rightful place at the heart of the State’s most ancient ceremony.
“Symbols are important. Gestures are significant. Which is why I am so pleased that The Cross of Wales has become part of our nation’s story.
“It is not merely a beautiful artefact; it is a hugely significant ecumenical symbol. Taking its inspiration from the earliest roots of our Christian history, and inscribed in Welsh with the words of St David, - “Byddwch Lawen. Cadwch y Ffydd. Gwnewch y Pethau Bychain.” “Be Joyful. Keep the Faith. Do the Little Things” - the Cross will remind us all of the heart of our faith.
“I mentioned that the prominence given to Wales at the Coronation is something that could not previously have been imagined. The same is true of the fact that the Cross of Wales incorporates a Piece of the True Cross – a personal gift from the His Holiness, Pope Francis.
“Given the often challenging facts of our history, the significance of a gift from the Pope being given a central role at the Coronation of the Supreme Governor of the Church of England can hardly be overestimated. It is a sign of true and holy generosity.
“Generosity, it seems to me, is the spirit that has informed this whole experience: the generosity of King Charles in creating this lasting symbol of his respect and affection for Wales; the generosity of the Goldsmiths’ Company in enabling and taking the project forward in with such expertise and flair; the generosity of the Pope in gifting the holiest symbol of the Faith we share.
From our earliest history, Christians looked to the cross of Jesus as the source of our closest relationship with God.
“There is generosity too in the attitude which this symbol represents: that divisions can be reconciled, that the overlooked can be included, and that the facts of history can be approached afresh with a new openness and a new respect.
“It is just over a hundred years since the Church in Wales became independent. A century on from what was, in its day, a contentious process, we can look back at how far we have come: at the new perspectives we have gained; the new lessons we have learned, and the new friendships we have made.
“This Cross is part of that process of renewal. It provides a focus of unity across our rich and diverse traditions. It is a sign too, that, in this ancient but newly confident nation, the Christian Church now engages on its own terms with the Monarchy, with our shared histories, and with the family of nations of which we are a part.
“There can be no greater symbol of generosity than that of God’s self-sacrifice on the Cross. From our earliest history, Christians looked to the cross of Jesus as the source of our closest relationship with God. It is here that we are forgiven, incorporated into the Beloved and made God’s own. The Crucified and Risen Christ is the source of our ongoing life in God.
“It is in that spirit that I hope we can approach not just the experiences of the past, but the journey of our shared future.”
Designed and made by master silversmith Michael Lloyd, in consultation with the Royal Collection, the Cross of Wales is crafted from recycled silver bullion, provided by the Royal Mint at Llantrisant, a shaft of Welsh windfall timber and a stand of Welsh slate. Words from the last sermon of St David are chased on the back of the Cross in Welsh: “Byddwch lawen. Cadwch y ffydd. Gwnewch y Pethau Bychain”, which translates as: “Be joyful. Keep the faith. Do the little things.”
In compliance with the Hallmarking Act, the silver elements of the Cross bear a full hallmark (of the London Assay Office), including the Royal Mark (leopard’s head) which was applied by The King himself.
Professor Charles Mackworth-Young, Prime Warden (Chairman-equivalent) of the Goldsmiths’ Company, said, “The Cross of Wales shows not only the relevance of traditional skills and craftsmanship in the modern world, but also the enduring nature of beautifully made objects, with practical purpose. We were thrilled to see the Cross lead the arrival of His Majesty the King at the Coronation and are delighted that it will see service in the Church in Wales for generations to come.”
Welsh love songs were played during the ceremony by the Royal harpist, Alis Huws, as January 25 was also St Dwynwen’s Day, the Welsh patron saint of lovers.
On its return to Wales, the Cross of Wales will initially be displayed at St Deiniol’s Cathedral, Bangor, the seat of the current Archbishop of Wales, before beginning a tour around all the Welsh cathedrals with the aim of giving everyone an opportunity to see it. Its use going forward will be shared between the Anglican and Catholic Churches in Wales.
Archbishop Stack said, “Pope Francis was very anxious to make this ecumenical gesture. It’s around the Cross that all Christians gather with their different histories, devotions, and approaches to the mystery of faith.”
Describing how the Cross of Jesus Christ lies at the crossroads of human existence, Archbishop Stack quoted his favourite saying from the Carthusian monks who used to live at Charterhouse in London, “the Cross stands still while the world turns.”
“As we look at the Cross, venerate the Cross, embrace the Cross, we give thanks to God in Jesus Christ for reconciling the world to himself, in love, in forgiveness, and in reconciliation.”
With thanks to The Goldsmiths’ Company and Paul Read Photography for the photographs