Celtic Cross – A Symbol of Faith and Learning
T. Wrafter & Sons Stonemasons recently had the great honour of creating an ornate Celtic Cross monument. It now stands proudly on the grounds of Nudgee College.
Steeped with symbolism, tradition, and respect, the monument celebrates the Irish Catholic heritage of Nudgee College. It pays tribute to the community’s enduring school spirit.
The cross marks the 130th anniversary of Nudgee College and reflects on its legacy. The present Principal of Nudgee College, Peter Fullagar, has referred to this cross as the “Great Cross”.
Nudgee College has a long tradition of successive generations associated with the school since it was built in 1891. The Celtic Cross monument is a testament to this and is a fitting monument for the purpose.
Origins of the Celtic Cross
It is widely accepted that St Patrick, a missionary bishop in Ireland in the 5th century, designed the original Celtic Cross. But, despite this, there are differing explanations about the origin of the cross and ring symbolism.
T Wrafter and Sons carved intricately interwoven Celtic patterns into the cross’s stems to add to the traditional cross and ring components. Examples of this adorn many of Ireland’s “High Crosses”.
The Celtic Cross is synonymous with the Irish Catholic Church. It symbolises the faith and learning handed down by St. Patrick through successive generations of monasteries, priests, and early Christians.
Like the Celtic crosses of old, the Nudgee College Celtic Cross monument represents the values and traditions handed down. The generations of Christian Brothers, lay teachers, student families and students who have attended the college have interwoven these traditions into the fabric of the school.
The Nudgee College Cross – From Concept to Completion
The cross’s design features a base (tapered diestone), tapering lower shaft, ring, cross arm, top shaft, capstone (roof) and knot patterns. Our team erected the cross as part of the refurbishment of the Old Boys’ Mall outside of the College Chapel in the Treacy Heritage Precinct. It faces north directly across Jack Ross Oval to the school stand.
T Wrafter & Sons Stonemasons accepted the project as a great privilege. Although we have a long association with the College and have completed several projects on the grounds over the years, this one was particularly unique. Our Director/principal, Peter Wrafter, is a Nudgee College “Old Boy” and past student. The project took on a particularly meaningful theme as it marked his class 50 year reunion.
Erected on 11 August 2021, it took twelve months, from design to completion. The cross was a test of design, engineering and stone-working skills.
The cross stands an impressive 5 m tall. A key feature of any Celtic Cross considered a “Great Cross” or “High Cross” is that it is of a considerable height. Its purpose is to stand tall and proud to provide a symbol of hope and faith that lasts a lifetime.
T Wrafter & Sons uses a combination of traditional and modern techniques when creating our work. When designing the Nudgee College Celtic Cross, T Wrafter & Sons carefully drafted it to proportions commensurate with the requested shape and height.
Following the design of the cross and acceptance of the drawings, the next task was to select a material that would exhibit great weathering properties and colour resemblance to the crosses in Ireland.
Australian Black Granite for the Celtic Cross
We consulted with the school and decided that the material should be Australian Imperial Black granite. When processed to a sandblast finish, it would closely resemble the colour of Irish limestone and is very robust.
The rich colour contrasts the natural sandblast colour and polished surface, to highlight the excised design of rope pattern and school crest sandblasted onto its face.
The material was specifically quarried to measurements to suit the crosse’s design. T Wrafter & Sons transported the quarried block to our factory in Nudgee, from Black Hill, South Australia. We then cut, drilled, polished and shaped it into a 3.2-tonne, 5- metre tall black granite cross.
Our design positioned the college crest in the centre of the cross, at the intersection of the cross arm and tapered support shaft. It is excised into the polished face, with its Latin motto Signum Fidei “Sign of the Faith”.
Such a Large Cross Needs Special Site Preparations
The immense size and weight of the Nudgee College Cross required meticulous planning to accommodate its installation.
An old building between the chapel and Duhig Building was demolished, and the team completed works to restore, conserve and reposition the Our Lady of Lourdes statue. Its permanent home is now a new Rose Garden between the Chapel and Sandgate Road.
Steel reinforced concrete foundations to support the structure needed to be robust and were pierced 2.4m deep. Furthermore, the foundations were completed about a month before installing the 200mm thick base.
The cross itself is constructed from 10 individual granite pieces. Each piece was meticulously doweled to the other using marine grade stainless steel.
Craning in the Components
The bulk of the cross was assembled off-site with only the tapered base, two top rings and the capstone installed on site. A crane carefully positioned each piece.
Firstly it installed the tapered die stone on the 200mm high base. Its dowel hole extends through the smaller base and into the concrete foundations.
Our stonemasons transported the cross horizontally, so the cranes’ next order was to carefully lift it to the vertical position. Once upright, the cross was hoisted into place. This process allowed the connection of the lower dowel (by thread) to the preinstalled dowel fixed inside the vertical shaft of the cross. The dowel holes of the foundations and bases were filled with fixing compound, and the cross hoisted – with its now installed dowel – and lowered into the filled dowel holes of the bases and foundations.
After checking the plumb and position of the cross, we installed the rings and cap.
Intricate Details Reflect Rich Celtic History
There are many types of symbolism and differing opinions about their true meanings and origins in Celtic folkore. Much of the history and wisdom of the Celts was passed down orally and can no longer be verified. Today, Roman writings and Christian monk transcriptions are all that remain. Despite this, it is generally believed that the Celtic Cross symbolises the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit united in a circle that represents totality and wholeness.
Irish Christian tradition saw High Crosses ornately patterned with Celtic symbols and knots. They stand tall at locations of great importance across the landscape. These locations mark territorial boundaries, places of pilgrimage and places considered holy.
Inscriptions Featured on the Nudgee College Celtic Cross
The Nudgee College Celtic Cross features the traditional knotwork, the College crest and several inscriptions. On the die stone are two cast bronze plaques inscribed as follows:
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.
ST PATRICK’S BREASTPLATE
PLACED HERE TO MARK 130 YEARS OF
ST JOSEPH’S NUDGEE COLLEGE 1891 – 2021
“We acknowledge all those who have built this community of faith
and learning over those 130 years: Members of the congregation
of Christian Brothers, the Catholic community of Queensland
and Australia and beyond, families and friends of the College,
members of the College staff, and the young men of Nudgee.
MOST REVEREND MARK COLERIDGE BA DSS
ARCHBISHOP OF BRISBANE
AND DEDICATED BY
ARCHBISHOP MARK COLERIDGE
ON 17 APRIL 2021
MARKING 130 YEARS OF
ST JOSEPH’S NUDGEE COLLEGE
Celebrating the Nudgee College Legacy
Nudgee College continues to build on its 130 year legacy with the installation of the Celtic Cross. T Wrafter & Sons are privileged and grateful to have been an integral part of this process.
The T Wrafter & Sons own legacy stretches back over 100 years. We have been involved in many heritage and memorial installations throughout the community. We invite you to visit the pages on our site featuring our heritage works and artworks to understand the detail and skill required by the projects we undertake.