Energy of faith can overcome ‘horns of every single dilemma’




A cross set amongst the antlers of a stag symbolises the Edinburgh parish in which the Scottish Parliament stands, MSPs have been told.

Rev Neil Gardner stated the emblem adorns the highest point of the roof of Canongate Kirk and reminds folks of the enduring energy of faith to deal with the “horns” of every single dilemma.

Rev Neil Gardner
Rev Neil Gardner

He told MSPs that a terrifying Royal encounter with an angry stag in the 12th century led to the building of the Abbey of Holy Rood.

Mr Gardner, minister of Canongate Kirk which is the Queen’s official spot of worship in Edinburgh, stated Christians see the cross as a sign of “brightness of new life and hope”.

Speaking in the course of Time for Reflection at the Scottish Parliament this afternoon, he stated: “I want to reflect for a moment on the symbol of our parish – yours and mine – right here in the Canongate, a cross set amongst the antlers of a stag.

“It can be noticed most vividly on the gable finish of the roof higher above the front door of Canongate Kirk, but elsewhere also from the war memorial against the Tolbooth to the gates of the (Holyrood) Palace.

“It traces our story back by means of the mists of time to the days of King David I, the son of the saintly Queen Margaret.

“One day in 1128, the King went hunting in the forest about Arthur’s Seat but a thing went incorrect, he came off his horse and was left defenceless on the ground though an angry stag approached, its sharp antlers pointing straight at him.

Canongate Kirk
Majestic symbol of faith more than adversity.&#13

“The King prayed that he may survive this deadly encounter and as he prayed legend has it he had a vision of the cross of Jesus in between the antlers of the stag, which all of a sudden stopped in its tracks and withdrew quietly to the forest.

“The King regained his horse and rode back up the hill to the Castle, exactly where in his thankfulness for deliverance he vowed to create an Abbey as close to the spot exactly where his life was spared.

“And so the story of the Abbey of the Holy Rood, which indicates Holy Cross in old language, started to take shape all these centuries ago, an Abbey that would give its name to the Palace that evolved out of its guesthouse and at some point to this entire portion of town.”

The antlers on the gold stag’s head are actual and supplied by the Queen’s estate at Balmoral.

They are replaced when the wind and rain put on them out.

Mr Gardner stated: “This side of Easter, Christians see the cross as a sign of our thankfulness for deliverance also, from the darkness of sin and death to the brightness of new life and hope.

“And the cross amongst the antlers nonetheless proclaims to us all the energy of the faith that endures by means of the centuries, by means of all the difficult encounters of our day, by means of the horns of every single dilemma.”



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