Ronald Rae with St. Francis

Ronald Rae with St. Francis

Granite: 5x11x3ft. 6.00 tons. Location: National Trust for Scotland, Threave Gardens, Dumfries and Galloway. Sold. After being on loan to the NTS for three years St. Francis will now be staying on at Threave due to the generosity of long term NTS members George and Sue Thomas.

Photography by Lenny Warren.

On Saturday 23rd June 2012 Kate Mavor, the Chief Executive of the National Trust for Scotland unveiled Ronald Rae’s St. Francis sculpture and opened the second Threave Garden Sculpture Exhibition showing works by several Scottish based sculptors in the formal garden at Threave. The exhibition continues till May 2013. A catalogue of the exhibition is available at the Visitor Centre.

In the summer of 2011 Ronald Rae opened the first Threave Sculpture Garden Exhibition. He spoke passionately about the potential of displaying larger sculptures at Threave and offered the NTS one of his works on loan. The NTS jumped at this wonderful opportunity. It was agreed that St. Francis would be perfect in this garden setting because of the saint’s love of Nature – birds in particular. Birdsong is the first sound one hears on entering Threave Garden.

George Thomas, from NTS Threave Garden who organised this project said ” I am absolutely delighted to have been involved with Ronald Rae’s incredibly generous gesture of lending St. Francis to Threave Garden. He has chosen a stunning piece entirely in keeping with the site. It undoubtedly creates a unique feature in the garden which will give pleasure to visitors and act as a focus of widespread interest.”

This emotive work depicts St. Francis lying in retreat on “that rugged rock twixt Tiber and Arno” as Dante described La Verna. The sculpture shows the saint surrounded by the birds that he loved and preached to. Brother Wolf is carved on the other side of the stone. Legend has it that St. Francis saved the village of Gubbio from being ravished of its flocks by persuading the people to feed the fierce hungry wolf. In return for this kindness the wolf became a friend to everyone and a follower of St. Francis and thereafter called Brother Wolf.

It has been written that on this mountainside St. Francis took on the stigmata – the wounds of Christ. In his sculpture Rae has given Brother Wolf the stigmata. Legend also says that when St. Francis died Brother Wolf was at his side.

The St. Francis stone from Tillyfourie Quarry in Aberdeenshire is of great geological interest being a mix of pink and silver-grey granite and dark grey basalt that fused together when the Earth was being formed. For this stone that happened 470 million years ago!

To see a short video of St. Francis being installed see News heading at the top margin of the Home page.

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