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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

How Firm a Foundation

It is quite likely that the high crosses we are considering in this series were used not only for teaching illiterate locals but also to orient and educate new members coming into the monastery.

Irish High Crosses (12)

But the real joy of Moone are the carvings on the base...The base at Moone is one of the rare instances on the Irish High Crosses where the sequence of biblical scenes is to be read from top to bottom…Beneath the Crucifixion at Moone are the twelve apostles, who are arranged in three rows of four one above the other..

 - Peter Harbison, The Golden Age of Irish Art

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

 - Ephesians 2.19-22

It is quite likely that the high crosses we are considering in this series were used not only for teaching illiterate locals but also to orient and educate new members coming into the monastery. In this case the crosses would serve a double purpose. They would ensure the proper theological orientation of novices and prepare them to use the crosses in their own ministries in due course.

We can perhaps imagine a master, having assembled the latest group of novices before the high cross at Moone, as he begins to demonstrate the unity both of the images on the cross and of the faith they gloriously declare:

“My brethren, you have come to a company of the Lord’s servants whose roots go back to the twelve whom Jesus chose as His first disciples.

“The apostles—here including Paul in the place of Judas—take their stand under the Cross of our Lord Jesus, thus demonstrating not only their faith but their willingness to suffer as our Savior did.

“They are, together with the prophets, the very foundation of the Church, but also of the New Testament and of the Bride and City of Christ extending down through the ages. We look to them to guide us to Jesus, in both the Old and New Testaments. We model our way of life on theirs, as Paul instructed us to do in 1 Corinthians 11.1. They are our final authority in guiding us into the Kingdom and righteousness of God.

“The twelve are one foundation, one witness, one teacher for all who follow and serve the Lord. They are here represented on the west face of the base of the high cross because they look toward and point us to the last days, when the sun of this world will set at the end of time and the Son of Righteousness will be all the Light of men and the world.

“During your time here you will come to know these faithful saints well, these who are witnessed to in and have given us the bulk of the New Testament. Learn well from them, brethren. As you pray, bear in mind that these twelve and other departed saints bear your prayers before the Lord in bowls like incense. Thus they continue to serve us, a great cloud of witnesses to urge us on and aid in our fellowship with the Lord Jesus.

“They seem serious, firm, and focused, do they not? Indeed, they were, as you will become by holding fast to their words. If you are faithful unto death, as these twelve were, you will pass their legacy on to the generations to come, until the knowledge of the glory of the Lord covers the earth as the waters cover the sea.

“Give thanks with me, brethren, for these twelve, this firm and glorious foundation of the Lord’s Church.”

For Reflection
1. What does it mean to say that the apostles, with the prophets, are the “foundation” of the Church?

2. What role do the apostles have in your walk with and work for the Lord?

Psalm 25.14-18 (Festal Song: Rise Up, O Men of God)
Your friends are they who fear and seek Your holy face;
Your covenant with them You share and save them by Your grace.

Be gracious, LORD, to me; my heart is weighed with woe.
My troubles and affliction see; let my transgressions go.

Let the apostles guide me today, O Lord, as I…


To learn more about the Celtic Revival, download our free PDF, The Celtic Revival: A Brief Introduction, by clicking here.

Support for Crosfigell comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.

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All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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