Ronald Rae’s St. Francis sculpture moves to Threave Garden


On Tuesday 15th May 2012 the NTS – Threave Garden became host to St.Francis one of Ronald Rae’s hand carved granite sculptures to be on loan for a period of time.  Three years later due to the generosity of George and Sue Thomas long-term NTS members St. Francis will now be staying at Threave indefinitely.

Ronald Rae had opened the first Threave Sculpture Garden Exhibition in 2011. 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.

It followed that the following year on 23rd June 2012 Kate Mavor, the then Chief Executive of the NTS unveiled Ronald Rae’s St. Francis sculpture and opened the second Threave Garden Sculpture Exhibition in the formal garden at Threave.

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.”

The seven tonne stone for St. Francis is of great geological interest being an amalgam of two different granites – grey and pink – and dark grey basalt. These stones fused together when the Earth was formed. For this particular stone that was 470 million years ago!

More information about St. Francis
This emotive sculpture depicts St. Francis the great follower of Christ, lying in retreat in the mountains, on “that rugged rock twixt Tiber and Arno” as Dante described La Verna. The sculpture shows the saint with 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 is said that on this mountainside St. Francis took on the stigmata – the wounds of Christ. In the sculpture Rae has given Brother Wolf the stigmata. Legend also relates that when St. Francis died Brother Wolf was at his side.

6 thoughts on “Ronald Rae’s St. Francis sculpture moves to Threave Garden”

  1. What a wonderful video — of a truly stunning piece! The rock itself is a marvel, and Ronald has managed to bring out of it a perfect essence of nature and St. Francis. I was on the edge of my chair watching the stone lift and then settle into place; it really shows how much work is involved in just placing one of these works of art. “St Francis in ascendance” — loved it!

    And then the peace, showing just how well St. Francis fits into that setting.

    Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thank you Carolyn. A pleasure to share with you. We are really pleased about the beautiful setting and continuous birdsong surrounding St. Francis at Threave. Just perfect!

  2. This is an absolutely fascinating video, depicting a heart clutching story of the transportation of St Francis to Threave. And what an idyllic resting place for this memorable sculpture. You can just gaze and gaze at his face, tranquil in repose.

    And of course it is perfectly complemented by the informative caption story.

    Altogether a small screen experience to be enjoyed time and again. As for the message of St Francis, captured so magically by Ronald, it is timeless. And will remain so….

  3. What an extraordinary coincidence that these three types of stone should come together 470 million years ago and eventually become such a beautiful sculpture. Threave Gardens looks a perfect setting for the St Francis sculpture and will surely attract many pilgrims!

    1. Thank you McKirdy family for your continuous appreciation of Ronald Rae’s sculptures. Hope you will make it to Threave one day. It is a very spiritual place – just perfect for St Francis. I am sure he would have liked that. Love to you all.

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