The Cross of Nails from Coventry to Dresden

Presented to The Diakonessen Mutterhaus Dresden

Rosalind Willatts went to Dresden as part of the 50th anniversary of the Coventry Dresden reconciliation project for the Community of the Cross of Nails (Nagelkreuz).

Rosalind was moved: “It was powerful and wonderful.”

She took with her an embroidery that she made for

the Evangelical Luther Diokonessen community.  The symbolism in the embroidery depicted both the ruin of the Coventry Cathedral and the Dresden Frauenkirche ruins.   It showed the Coventry Cross of Nails (Nagelkreuz),  the arms of the city of Dresden and the rebuilt Cathedral, it had not only the ruin, but the reconciliation of the two cities.

Rosalind said: “75 years ago Coventry was blitzed and the cathedral burnt.  The Cathedral Provost preached that there must be no bitterness.  On Ash Wednesday 1945, the British utterly destroyed Dresden.”

The Provost Dick Howard not only preached against bitterness, he had carved above the altar in the ruined cathedral, “Father Forgive.”  He preached forgiveness for the Germans and for all who took part in war.  He was not understood at that time and some felt he was a traitor.

The year of the Coventry Blitz was the beginning of Coventry as a city of Peace and Reconciliation and the foundation of the Community of the Cross of Nails. These two cities were the first to form a bond of reconciliation.

In 1965 Rosalind went with a group from Coventry to Dresden to bring a Cross of Nails (Nagelkreuz) to the church there.  She found Dresden was still in ruins.

“Coventry rebuilt a section of the burnt-out hospital run by the order of Evangelical Lutheran sisters founded in 1844.  Only after the fall of hte Berlin Wall was it politically possible to reconstruct the Frauenkirche with many of the original stones incorporated.  A new Cross of Nails stands on the altar.”

As the Frauenkirche website states:  “Since then steps of reconciliation have been taken in various ways around the world in the spirit of the Cross of Nails. More than 200 Crosses of Nails have found a home in places where the people beneath these crosses have chosen to lay aside old differences and live in a spirit of reconciliation.”

Rosalind Willatts describes the embroidery symbolism below:

“The embroidery presented to The Diakonessen Mutterhaus DresdenSeptember 2015 to commemorate the 50th  anniversary of  the Coventry Cathedral (England) Reconciliation Project to Dresden. Rosalind Willatts went out to Dresden from Coventry at the start of the project in March 1965

She worked this August 2015;  90% of the threads used are pure silk , mostly hand- dyed, other threads are in hand-dyed polyester, a few are of cotton.

It depicts:

Coventry Cathedral ruins;

the surviving mediaeval cathedral tower;

the  new Coventry Cathedral of 1962 showing the Baptistery Window;

sculpture by Joseph Epstein (1880 – 1959) of St Michael’s Victory over the Devil 1958;

the charred cross in front of the ruined east widow;

a bronze cast copy of the sculpture Reconciliation 1977 by Josefina de Vasconcellas (1904 – 2005) placed in the Coventry Cathedral ruined nave 1995.

Coventry cross of nails (Nagelkreuz);

the logo of the Diocese of Coventry;

the arms of the Diocese of Coventry;

the arms of the city of Dresden;

the cross on orb symbol of the Lutheran Church;

the logo of the Diakonnessenanstalt Dresden.

The Frauenkirche ruins and rubble with the statue of Martin Luther as seen in 1965;

the Frauenkirche rebuilt 2005;

the great cross on the Frauenkirche cupola. (This is a copy of the original – now fragile and inside the Frauenkirche – presented by the people of Britain. It was made by Alan Smith whose father, Frank, had been an RAF pilot who took part in the February 1945 bombing raid;  making it was for Alan an act of reconciliation). ”



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