The Coventry Cross of Nails
The Dresden Frauenkirche has been part of the international Community of the Cross of Nails (CCN) since 2005. This worldwide network of churches, institutions and places works closely with Coventry Cathedral for peace and reconciliation. In addition to the Frauenkirche, there are four more nail cross locations in Dresden. In total, there are 50 members across Germany and over 200 worldwide.
For the Community of the Cross of Nails, standing up for peace and reconciliation means to heal the wounds of history, to recognize differences and to value diversity, and to create a culture of peace. The crosses of nails have therefore found their place in places where people set themselves the task of bridging old rivalries and walking paths of cooperation.
The Cross of Nails movement originated in Coventry. In 1940 the city was completely destroyed by German bombing, including St. Michael's Cathedral. Nevertheless, at Christmas of the same year, cathedral provost Richard Howard called on a nationwide radio broadcast from the cathedral ruins not to seek revenge, but to work for reconciliation.
As a visible sign he had formed a cross from old carpenter nails and later had the words "Father forgive" carved into the choir wall. These are also part of the prayer that is said at all Cross of Nails locations on Fridays at noon. At the center of this reconciliation liturgy is the request for forgiveness.
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
The hatred which divides nation from nation, race from race, class from class,
The covetous desires of people and nations to possess what is not their own,
The greed which exploits the work of human hands and lays waste the earth,
Our envy of the welfare and happiness of others,
Our indifference to the plight of imprisoned, the homeless, the refugee,
The lust which dishonours the bodies of men, women and children,
The pride which leads us to trust in ourselves and not in God,
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)
Dean John Irvine, former Dean of Coventry Cathedral