• Neil Allen

Fr Roten #36: Germany/cradle and cross

Cradle and cross are never far apart in Christian thought. The first leads to the second, as certain as Christmas leads to Easter. At first sight, this double set is made of contrasts. Stoneware clashes with bronze, and the lovely nativity group seems to disagree with the stylized forms of book and cross. In fact, there is complimentarily in color and weight: both lend a discreet nobility to the book as well as to the cradle. The delightful idyll of parents and animals gathered around the child is not without foreboding. The insouciant animal companions contrast somewhat with the more reflective parents. They seem perplexed and helpless, somehow anticipating the next scene with the crucified Son at its center. Tucked between the pages of the book of life, the Savior on the cross looks like a pressed flower. He is a constant reminder that the many pages of his message are drawing their fullness of meaning from his death and resurrection. Thus, cradle and cross have a twofold meaning. They both speak the language of Christmas and Easter.

Reprinted with permission: University of Dayton - Marian Library Collection. All rights reserved.

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