From 1969 until 1978, I was Rector of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in La Grange, Georgia. 

In front of the church stood a sixteen foot Celtic Cross designed by Mrs. Preston McIntosh and executed by sculptor Fred Shoenfeld, both of Atlanta, Georgia.  The cross, which was completed in 1963, is made of Indiana limestone and weighs seven tons.

The shields on the front side represent the tradition symbols of the twelve apostles.  On the side of cross facing the church are symbols representing symbols of the world.  Some of the symbols are now a little dated like IBM cards. The rear fins of Cadillac, and Mickey Mouse. There are no cell phones or computers.

In 1978, I accepted a call To Calvary Episcopal Church in Front Royal, Virginia. While attending the diocesan convention in Richmond, Virginia in 1979, I purchased a book of Church Needlepoint by Louise A. Raynor and Carolyn H. Kerr , published by Morehouse – Barlow. The book contained needlepoint patterns of all of the shields of the apostles plus a lot of other interesting Christian symbols.

For a number of years, I had needlepointed small Oriental rugs for my miniature houses. I found a needle pointing to be fun, relaxing, and creative.

So the idea hit me to make a copy of St. Mark's Celtic Cross in needlepoint. I figured that the cross would have to be at least 7 feet long and 3 feet wide. I went to the local yarn store and bought enough canvas and yarn to whet my appetite to begin. So using a felt tip pen, I drew my design on the canvas and began. That was in February 1979, in September 2015 I finished it.... It only took 36 years!! Of course I did not work on it every day, sometimes months would pass without a stitch.

The green background became rather tiresome, so I decided to add a few more symbols down each side plus symbols on the base. After finishing it, I had it professionally blocked and a backing sewed on. It now hangs in our dining room as it needed a very large wall space with nothing in front of it. The cross is 7 feet tall and 3 feet wide.


There are hundreds of Christian symbols and shields. These can be found in countless cathedrals and churches, carved on tops of columns, in stained-glass windows, on altars, pulpits,lecterns, boss stones on ceilings to name a few obvious places. Below is a list of the symbols on my tapestry cross..


The Symbols on the Tapestry Cross - from top to bottom

St. Jude- Jude's symbol is a ship because he was a missionary thought to be a fisherman.

St. Thomas – Thomas' symbol is a spear and a carpenter square as he was thought to have been an architect and build a church with his own hands in India. Thomas died when he was shot with arrows, stoned, and left to die. A priest then ran a spear through him.

St. Matthias – Matthias was the apostle chosen by lot to take Judas's place as one of the twelve. He is said to have been stoned and then beheaded.

Agnus Dei -  Symbol of the Lamb of God

St. Bartholomew- Bartholomew was flayed alive, crucified, and then beheaded. His symbol is three parallel knives.

St. James the Less - this James is the son of Alpheus. Near his death he rose to ask forgiveness for his enemies, who then beat him with a Fuller's bat and sawed his body in pieces.

St. Matthew – the symbol for Matthew are three purses for his office as a tax collector for the Romans.

St. Andrew – Andrew is said to have been martyred on an X -shaped cross.

St. Peter – Peter was given the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven and he was crucified on an upside down cross.


The crossbar – from left to right

St. John – various attempts were made on John's life including a poisoned chalice from which he was miraculously spared. A chalice with a snake in it is his symbol.

St. Philip – the symbol of Philip is two loaves of bread and a cross, because of his part in feeding the 5000.

St. Simon – Simon is represented by a fish.

James the Great – James' shield shows a scallop shell, a symbol of pilgrimage by sea, and the sword of martyrdom. James was beheaded by Herod Agrippa.

The Evangelist on left side

St. Matthew – Matthew is represented by a winged man because his gospel begins with the tracing of the genealogy of Jesus.

St. Mark – Mark is represented by a winged lion because his gospel begins with the reference to John the Baptist is a voice crying in the wilderness.

St. Luke – Luke is represented by an ox because he gives a full account of the sacrificial death of Jesus.

St. John – John is represented by an eagle, suggesting the soaring loftiness of his writings.

Down the right side:

St. Paul- Paul is represented by a sword and the Bible representing the sword of the Spirit.

St. Barnabas - Barnabas, like Paul was not one of the twelve. It is said that we was a good preacher, hence the open Bible.

St. Stephan- Stephan's symbol is his coat and the stones that killed him.

St. Michael – Michael is represented by a sword and scales because he is said to weigh the souls of men in a scale.

The front of the base:

IHS - In this sign  or  Jesus Savior of Men

XP - First two letters of the Greek word for Christ

Alpha Omega - The beginning and the end