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Calvary Group

Designed by: Frank Howard

Originally installed in: St Catharine’s Nottingham, 1925

Gifted to St Mary's Cathedral by: The Harradine Family

In memory of: Brian Harradine (1935-2014), Tasmanian Senator

Installed in St Mary's Cathedral: 2014


"For by your Cross and Resurrection,
you have set us free"

Installed in the Cathedral in 2015, this outstanding piece of 20th century liturgical art is the gift of the Harradine family to the Cathedral in memory of Tasmanian Senator Brian Harradine (1935-2014). The work is a polychrome and gilded carving in English Oak whose near life-size figures depict a crucified Christ at Calvary, his mother and St John attending as described in the Gospels.

Designed for and hung in St Catharine’s Nottingham in 1925 it is providential that this Calvary Group by English architect Frank Howard should now find a home in St Mary’s Cathedral Hobart. The diocese’s first bishop Robert William Willson, was ordained on 16 December 1824 and sent to none other than the Nottingham Mission where he ministered for two decades before departing for Tasmania in 1844.

Rich in symbolism, it is a powerful subject for prayerful meditation upon Christ’s sacrifice. The arms of the cross have new leaf buds sprouting from their edges, signifying the life-giving instrument through which we have been redeemed: ‘for by your Cross and Resurrection you have set us free’.

The cross arms terminate with fleurs-de-lis, symbolic forms of the lily traditionally associated with the Mother of God. At the extremities of the cross arms can be seen the traditional symbols of the four Evangelists: an angel (Matthew), a lion (Mark), a bull (Luke) and an eagle (John) as referred to in the Revelation text (Rev. 4:6–9).

Finally, the cross-piece upon which Our Lady and St John stand is supported by a pair of dolphins. Overall, the cross with its cross-piece has the shape of an anchor - an early Christian symbol found in the catacombs and signifying hope (Heb. 6:17–20). In this configuration the dolphins symbolise the individual Christian and represent our attachment to Christ crucified.

An object of considerable beauty, rich in symbolism which owing to its history and design enjoys a providential synchronicity with our Catholic community here in Hobart.

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