Ronald Rae visits his Fallen Christ Sculpture on Iona

Not everyone manages to go to Iona because of the long journeys involved – from the mainland of Scotland it requires two ferry journeys and 40 miles on a one track road through Mull. It is said of Iona that it is a hard place to get to and an equally hard place to leave. After seeing this video I think you will understand why.

Ronald Rae’s Fallen Christ has now been on Iona for two years. A sign directs visitors to find the sculpture past the Abbey on the hill next to the George MacLeod Centre, home of The Iona Community. The sculpture is in memory of Jim Hughes, an Iona Community member – it was Jim who decided to have the sculpture there.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Carolyn Horn July 20, 2010 at 9:37 am

That was truly beautiful. Thank you for sharing it with us {{{hugs}}}

Pauline July 20, 2010 at 9:50 am

Thank you Carolyn. Hopefully we shared with you that special spirit of place that one finds on Iona.

gail winstanley July 20, 2010 at 11:45 am

The sculpture is a lovely tribute to Jim Hughes’ memory. It is also a fitting testimony to Ronnie and his sculpture that Iona accepted the Fallen Christ as I know they are very strict about what they allow on the island.

Pauline July 20, 2010 at 3:37 pm

Thank you Gail for your kind words. We always thought this sculpture would have a special destiny. It could not be in a more appropriate place, thanks to Jim Hughes.

Karen Turner July 21, 2010 at 4:28 am

Hello Ronnie and Polly

It is nice to see Ronnie back at the statue. I remember so well the weather on the day it arrived in Iona, the worry about it grounding the ferry half way across the sound, the fun of trying to stand in the wind sweeping round the Mac and especially the sight of Ronnie in the Meenisters Trews!

Then the day when Jim, Margaret and the family managed to come and see the statue in place.

jenny Melmoth July 21, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Thank you so much Pauline and Ronnie for sharing this beautiful film with us , which captures the rich experience of going back to visit such a memorable piece of work. I know that installing the Fallen Christ was fraught with difficulty both before and during the operation so it is lovely to see you going back to enjoy its beauty and that of the island on a glorious peaceful day.

Pauline July 22, 2010 at 6:58 am

We remember it well, Karen – a mixture of happy and sad emotions – the wild weather playing its part. It was wonderful to spend some time on the island again this year, in the sunshine this time. We will come back every year. Hope we will see you there again.

Pauline July 22, 2010 at 7:08 am

Thank you Jenny. Yes, this visit was very peaceful – nowhere could be more beautiful than Iona on a sunny day. The sculpture has settled in well and has many friends visiting it on the island as well as being seen by the thousands of visitors every year making a pilgrimage to the island from afar.

maggi sale September 4, 2010 at 6:04 am

As a frequent visitor to Iona, and never without a camera in my hand, I have taken numerous photographs of Ronald Rae’s ‘Fallen Christ’ much to the bewilderment of other pilgrims who will jibe, “It hasn’t moved since last time, you know!” But it does….all the time! The magic light of Iona plays with the angles and contours, changing the mood of the piece and, dare I say, bringing it alive. I always make it the focus of my nocturnal vigil and have spent several hours, since its welcome arrival, just sheltering in its lee and, with its immovable support, have been able to locate and express deep-seated and painful grief of my own. It has to be said, however, that some visitors are shocked and even repelled by its appearance and siting……and I wonder, why?

Pauline September 5, 2010 at 9:32 am

Thank you Maggi. The sculptor is touched by your words. He often wonders how much the sculpture is appreciated there. The answer to those who question the chosen site is yes, it could have done with more space around it, but we were limited because of archaeological finds in the area. The sculptor’s answer is “Christ could not choose where he fell.”

Felice Cookis August 20, 2011 at 12:00 pm

You have made numerous wonderful things. I did a search on the subject and discovered nearly all individuals will go along with your weblog.

Pauline August 20, 2011 at 3:34 pm

Thank you Felice. Glad to know you like Ronald Rae’s work. That’s what keeps him going.

Denise September 15, 2011 at 9:42 am

We were very blessed to have had the rare opportunity to visit the Isle of Iona this July.
My husband and I visited Iona’s ruins, monuments and the Abbey. On our way to the Abbey we were kind of taken aback by the sign that said “Fallen Christ sculpture” – why should Christ be fallen? Later I found your website which said that this structure was in memory of the late Jim Hughes. That, however, doesn’t explain the symbolism of the sculpture. Would you be kind enough to explain what were you trying to convey by your sculpture? Thank you in advance.

Pauline September 15, 2011 at 11:43 am

The Fallen Christ sculpture depicts Christ when he fell at Calvary carrying the weight of the cross, the heavy cross symbolic of the weight of the the world. At this point Christ was at his most vulnerable like ourselves when we are tested. I hope this explains the sculpture for you. The letters INRI on the heavy beam are often found on religious paintings of the crucifixion. It means Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews.

The McKirdy family October 10, 2011 at 4:11 pm

We booked our trip to Iona for Thursday 15th September and were incredibly lucky as it was a beautiful day just after hurricane Katia had passed over. Several people were taking photographs of the Fallen Christ while we were there and we did likewise as the light was perfect. One of the surprising features for us was the different colours in the granite and the hair especially appeared reddish brown. In other parts some lichens were present. The sculpture is a wonderful tribute to Jim Hughes and a very appropriate addition to this very special place. The whole experience was very moving. Thank You.

Pauline October 10, 2011 at 4:54 pm

Thank you McKirdy Family for making that long trip to Iona. So glad you had a good day for it. In reply to your comment about the colour of Christ’s hair being reddish brown, the stone is mainly grey but it also has pink striations in areas in particular on the top of Christ’s head. After three years the stone has patinated due to the elements. Adding to this the cattle that frequent the area often shelter beside the sculpture. They use Christ’s head as a scratching post being at a convenient height for them resulting in the oil from their coats changing the colour of Christ’s hair from pink to reddish brown – what you are seeing is Nature finishing the stone!

Pauline July 28, 2013 at 6:06 am

Thank you for this feedback. It is good to know that the fallen Christ sculpture is being surrounded daily by pilgrims and visitors to Iona.

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