Wayside Cross

Wayside (edge of road) crosses are one type of Christian Cross that could be erected in Medieval times (5th-15th century). What do you think was its purpose?

Locations

In England there are over 350 wayside crosses. They are mostly found in Southwest England in Cornwall and on Dartmor. They can also be found on the North Yorkshire Moors. Very few are found elsewhere. Other forms of Wayside crosses can be found in other European countries such as Germany and Ireland.

Function

One function of a wayside cross was to reinforce the Christian faith amongst those who traveled past the cross. It was meant to reassure the traveler. In addition, they were way markers. They helped mark the areas that were generally unmarked routes.

Boskenna Cross

This wayside cross is at the junction of B 3315 and Rectory Rd in Cornwall. It is near the Merry Maidens Stone Circle in Cornwall, England. The head of the Boskenna Cross is circular. On one side of the head is a cross. On the opposite side is a figure of Christ with his arms up stretched and his feet pointing outwards. Some other wayside markers in Cornwall are said to have rounded heads with a cross on one side and different carvings on the other side.

This side faces someone property. It has a cross clearly visible on it.
This is the side facing the road. It is said to have a carving of Jesus on it with his arms outstretched. If you able able to see it in person you can barely make it out.

Wayside crosses are unique to Europe and the type found in Cornwall seems to be unique to Cornwall. If you visit Cornwall, see if you can spot one of these ancient monuments that has stood the test of time.

The Green Man

It resembles a man, but is surrounded by leaves or other plant life. It may have branches or vines protruding from its mouth or nose. It is seen on different pub signs and as grotesques on buildings or churches. What is it? It is the Green Man.

Oxford University- More of a man.

Although it can be seen in other cultures, the Green Man can be spotted around England. There are at least three Green Man Pubs in London and more are elsewhere. Several colleges at Oxford have the symbol on a door or as a grotesque on the side of a building. Churches and cathedrals in different counties have the Green Man decorating their edifice.

More a plant- Oxford

Although the true meaning may be unknown, there are many theories about it. Some see the Green Man as a symbol of rebirth or growth in spring. Others see it as a symbol of man’s reliance on nature. Another theory is it is a reminder that death awaits us all. One Christian interpretation is that the foliage coming from the mouth represents the life giving breath of the Holy Spirit. Other ideas about the meaning exist as well.

Magdalen College Oxford

Whatever their meaning or purpose, they are interesting to find. Look them up on the web and see where some of them are located. This site lists some locations: click here. If you are planning a trip to one of these areas, stop in and find one.

Church Cats

If you have a cat, you know you don’t own the feline, they own you. Your house is not yours, it belongs to your cat. You are just the caretaker. In England some churches are a cat’s domain.

Unlike in the United States or some other places, many British churches are open or unlocked during the day. This is great for tourists who would like to enter and view the architecture or interior. It is also great for people who want to have a quiet moment to reflect. Propped open doors or constant visitors have enabled some local cats or strays to claim the building as their own. They may like to get out of the rain, enjoy the soft seat cushions on the pews, or even sun themselves where light filters in through the stained glass windows onto the floor.

Locals are so used to seeing particular cats lounging about that they know them by name. They may even be afforded the status of official church cat.

We were told by locals in Corsham that this was Cyril. He was owned by a local florist, but he liked to hang out at the church by day. We met him inside the church. He walked us out and walked right back to the florist shop around closing time.

Some church cats belong to a local and just like to hang out at the church. Others are strays that have shown up at a church and the staff end up adopting them and allow them to stay. The cats presence helps curb the mouse population.

Another cat I encountered inside a church in the Cotswolds. This one followed us outside the church as well. He tailed us around the churchyard.

Southwark Cathedral in London even elevated the status of their church cat by honoring her in stone with a grotesque. The named her Doorkins because she would be waiting by the door to be let into the church every morning before they adopted her.

The grotesque made in honor of Southwark Cathedral’s church cat-Doorkins.
Doorkins is older now. She is less social and sleeps a lot. Here she was in the Harvard chapel in the church. She was on a comfortable chair.
Doorkins enjoying a nap.

In her heyday Doorkins was more sociable. She met the queen when she visited Southwark Cathedral. She would join in church services and choir practices angling for a pet or a scratch behind the ear. Even though she is on in years and is less active, she still enjoyed a little attention.

They sell this book at the Southwark Cathedral store relating Doorkin’s story.
This is Jones of St. Paul’s in Covent Garden in London. Jones is getting on in years as well. He is named after Inigo Jones who designed the church. His sibling, who passed on was Inigo and he was named Jones.

I have been lucky enough to meet some of these cats. The ones I met were people friendly and enjoyed attention. In a country that obviously favors dogs, church cats in England can be considered an icon.

Temple Art

Is it a lion or a dragon? I think it may be a dragon. I looked online and could not find a similar image.

I took this image several years ago when in the Pusan/Busan area of South Korea at one of its lovely Buddhist temples. It was taken on an old Pentax K-1000 as slide film. I recently scanned this image.

Buddhist temples are known for their artwork. Besides statues of Buddha, the temples are like an art museum on the inside and outside. If in Korea or another Asian country, be sure to stop by one. You won’t regret it.

Fishermen’s Buddha

In the Catholic tradition there are saints for different causes. St. Erasmus or St. Elmo is the patron saint of Sailors. St. Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of Animals. What do they have in Buddhism?

In Buddhism it appears they have different Buddhist shrines focusing on different causes. This was taken a while ago when I worked in Asia. This was a Buddhist Temple in the Pusan/Busan area. I was told by a Korean who went with us that the photo below was the Fishermen’s Buddha and that the women there were praying for the safe return of their husbands and a good catch. The top photo may be from the same temple or from another Buddhist temple focusing on fertility in the same area.

The two images I used on this post were taken several years ago on an old Pentax K-1000 as slide film. I tried to scan them recently.

I find it interesting to see the traditions in other cultures and religions. Sometimes we have some similarities and sometimes there are differences. It makes visiting a new place even more interesting. What are your traditions?