Sunday, March 17, 2013

Saint Patrick's Day

Monasterboice is a monastic site north of Drogheda in County Louth, Ireland. It was founded in the late 5th century by Saint Buithe, a follower of Saint Patrick, and became an important center of religion and learning in the 10th century. The impressive ruins of Monasterboice include a large cemetery that was one of the longest working burial grounds in the world, two  10th century churches and one of the tallest round towers in Ireland. But it is best known for its three 10th century High Crosses, two of which are considered to be the finest High Crosses in Ireland.

The beautiful High Crosses are an example of Celtic art that brought the Bible to life for those who could not read. The crosses—created for education, not for decoration—taught the people about the Bible through their carvings depicting stories from the Old and New Testament. Muiredach's Cross (also known as South Cross) is regarded as the finest High Cross in all of Ireland. It is named for an abbot mentioned in the inscription on the base. The West Cross (also known as Tall Cross) is the tallest High Cross in Ireland. The North Cross is much simpler and has only a few carvings.

The photos in the slideshow above are by photographer Juergen Mangelsdorf. They show the historic ruins of Monasterboice including details of Muiredach's Cross and the West Cross, the cemetery, church ruins and the round tower. (To replay the slideshow, click the arrow once and wait for it to load.)