This Lily Crucifix is striking. The figure of Christ is bleeding yet not broken; indeed he looks vigorous. The cross, too, is not dead wood but a lily of the field, full of sap and flowering. It’s not a canna – the one we usually call an Easter Lily – but an Easter Lily for all that. Christ, the wounded Christ, is risen! Immediately below the lily cross the church has placed the tabernacle or aumbry, housing the wafer that Christians recognise as the body of Christ.
Scattered across the wall are five-petalled pink flowers, surely wild roses like the one below. Or are they stars, their numbers counted by Him alone? Earth’s astronomers keep on counting more and more of them as their instruments look ever further, but they seem to have given up on names, instead allotting numbers to the innumerable golden grains they perceive and whose vastness they measure from light years away. They know they will never reach the end of the numbers but they trust that their work is valuable. It is valuable, for it is awe inspiring.
Here is Christina Rossetti, saying all this and more, with greater eloquence than your correspondent!
Leaf from leaf Christ knows; Himself the Lily and the Rose
Leaf from leaf Christ knows;
Himself the Lily and the Rose:
Sheep from sheep Christ tells;
Himself the Shepherd, no one else:
Star and star He names,
Himself outblazing all their flames:
Dove by dove, He calls
To set each on the golden walls:
Drop by drop, He counts
The flood of ocean as it mounts:
Grain by grain, His hand
Numbers the innumerable sand.
Lord, I lift to Thee
In peace what is and what shall be:
Lord, in peace I trust
To Thee all spirits and all dust.