AFTER the bombing of Coventry Cathedral, Provost Dick Howard declared, during a BBC radio broadcast from the ruins, on Christmas Day 1940, that, when the war was over, there should be a commitment not to revenge, but “to build a kinder, more Christlike world”.
The Cross of Nails, formed from three nails from the medieval timbers of the fallen roof, became the potent symbol of that commitment, and came to be recognised around the world as a symbol of peace and reconciliation.
As new relationships with Germany were forged, and links developed between Coventry and the cities of Kiel, Dresden, and Berlin, communities received replica crosses, and took on the commitment to working and praying for peace, justice, and reconciliation.
There is now a Community of the Cross of Nails, which includes some 150 partners, in churches, schools, reconciliation centres, prisons, and non-governmental organisations — as the Community says, “Any body of people who have a heart and need to pursue reconciliation in their own lives and the lives of others”.
Communities of the Cross of Nails can be found in the UK, Germany, Australia, China, the Czech Republic, Israel/Palestine, Russia, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belarus, Cuba, Georgia, Iraq, Nigeria, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, South Africa, and Canada.
Canon Porter has just returned from presenting a Cross of Nails to the Evangelische Versöehnungskirche (Protestant Reconciliation Church) and Katholische Seelsorge (Catholic Pastorate) in the memorial site at Dachau Concentration Camp.