In order to demonstrate and emphasise the close affinity existing between the Cathedral and every aspect of human life, the Capital (i.e. the top) of each pillar or column in the Nave is carved with a series of designs typifying a particular pursuit or an occupation of man. Typically each of the four sides or corners of a capital depict a scene or person respectively. There are five full columns on each side plus two half columns at either end of the Nave. The latter are known as Responds.


NORTH SIDE - from the West Doors moving toward the Choir

Courage Respond1 COURAGE Respond

Carved close against the wall is a Celtic Chieftain, armed with a spear, and the Celtic ornamentation of the Respond is relieved by a circle framing the figure of a warrior. A Sword, carved on the column and outlined in gold, recalls Christ's enigmatical words: "I came not to send peace, but a sword.' (Matthew 10. 34).



Science Pillar2 SCIENCE

This Capital depicts the progress of Science as revealed in the careers of four famous scientists who span a period of over twenty centuries.

NW ARCHIMEDES (circa 287-212 B.C.)

SW ROGER BACON (1214-1294).


NE LORD KELVIN (1824-1907).





Woman spinning3 INDUSTRY

Designed with particular reference to the Linen Industry, and coherently illustrating the various phases from field to market-place.

South: A man pulling flax in the traditional method employed before the advent of mechanical aids.

West: (featured) A woman seated at a Spinning Wheel making threads from the flax fibre.

North: A woman at a Loom weaving the threads (or yarn) into a fabric.

East: A scene in a typical Irish market-place, at which the bolt of finished linen is proffered for sale.



Healing Pillar4 HEALING

The Healing Art as depicted in the pages of the New Testament:

South: The story of Jesus curing the man sick of the palsy.

West: The parable of the Good Samaritan and his succouring of the man who fell among thieves.

North: St Luke, the Beloved Physician and the one Gentile among the New Testament writers, is seated at a writing desk, penning the words of his Gospel.

East: (featured) Christ restoring sight to the blind man, on whose face is the poignant look of the sightless.




Agriculture Pillar5 AGRICULTURE

West: The ploughing in progress.

South: (featured) Sowing the seed.

East: The reaper at work with his hook.

North: Threshing the grain.








Music Pillar6 MUSIC

This is represented by an angel at each of the four corners of the Capital:

One angel is playing on an Organ (NW), another is playing an Irish Harp (SE), a third has a stringed instrument like a Violin (NE) and the fourth angel is a Singer (SW).



Justice Respond7 JUSTICE Respond

The figure of Moses the Law-giver holding the Tables of the Law (the Ten Commandments), and underneath, engraved on the column, is the text "Mercy and Truth are met together" - a reminder that "earthly power doth then show likest God's when Mercy seasons Justice."





SOUTH SIDE - from the Organ back towards the Baptistry.


Temperance Respond1 TEMPERANCE Respond







Theology Pillar2 THEOLOGY

NW ST ATHANASIUS (293-373 A.D.). Bishop of Alexandria and the "Father of Orthodoxy"

NE ST AUGUSTINE (354-430). One of the greatest and best known of the early Christian leaders.

SE THOMAS CRANMER (1489-1556). Archbishop of Canterbury and the compiler of the first Book of Common Prayer (1549).

SW RICHARD HOOKER (1553-1600). An English theologian whose admirable writings are regarded as masterpieces of theological reasoning and eloquence.


Shipbuilding Pillar3 SHIPBUILDING

Descriptive of Belfast's major industry and vividly portraying the progress of Shipping from ancient to modern times.

East: The Ark of Noah surmounted by a Rainbow, the token of this everlasting Covenant between God and Man.

North: (featured) A Norse Galley manned by seven of these unwelcome sea-rovers who all too frequently visited our shores in primitive times. Sea-monsters lurk in each corner.

West: An old-time wooden sailing-ship, "its voyage closed and done," is being towed to the ship-breakers' yard for demolition.

South: A modern oil-burning ship, prototype of so many that have been built on the Lagan.




The four symbols of the Order carved in succession are:
North: (featured) Craft Masonry

West: Royal Arch

South: Knight Templar

East: Prince Masonry.





Art Pillar5 ART

North: (featured) Architecture: SIR CHRISTOPHER WREN (1632-1723), one of the most famous architects of all time, at work with his compasses. In the background is his most notable concept, St Paul's Cathedral.

West: Sculpture: MICHAELANGELO (1475-1564) the incomparable genius of the Middle Ages - painter, poet, sculptor, and architect.

South: Painting: SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS (1723-1792), the great English portrait painter, and first President of the Royal Academy.

East: Drama: WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (1564-1616)




Womanhood6 WOMANHOOD

This noble Capital portrays four phases of Womanhood and provides a constant reminder that "The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world."

NE Teaching. A tender study of a mother reading a book to her child.

NW Homelife. A young woman fashioning a garment with a pair of scissors.

SE Nursing. A nurse with hands folded in an attitude of prayer - a tribute to woman's Ministry of Healing in Hospital and Home.

SW Motherhood. Mary the mother of Jesus is nursing the Heavenly Babe, while her gaze is directed towards the Baptismal Font.






Solomon, the embodiment of Wisdom, is holding the open Book of that name in his left hand, while with the other hand he directs attention to the writings within.







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