The Old Rugged Cross

St. Ambrose Cemetery, Seymour, Indiana

St. Ambrose Cemetery, Seymour, Indiana

MARIAROSA

SCIARRA

DED. 11, 1847

OCT. 27, 1920

BORN AT CHIAUCI, ITALY

This dramatic monument erected for Mariarosa Sciarra is a depiction of a line from the iconic hymn “Rock of Ages” written by Reverend Augustus Montague Toplady in 1763 and first published in 1775.  The hymn has been a popular Christian standard for over a century.

At the turn of the 19th Century, postcards depicted a dramatic scene of a woman in a flowing dress being buffeted by a storm surrounded by stormy white-crested waves clinging to a cross illustrating the first two lines of the third stanza from the hymn:

“Nothing in my hand I bring, Simply to Thy cross I cling”

The image above is a sculpture of those two lines of the great hymn.  This motif is found in full sculpture,  but also commonly found on white-bronze markers (blue-tinted cast zinc markers) made in Bridgeport, Connecticut.  The woman symbolizes faith.  The raging sea (not depicted in this sculpture–the woman rests upon a rock) is a metaphor for the sea of sin in which humankind lives, and the cross is the hope to which sinners cling to be saved.

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