International Cross of Nails School

St Paul’s is an International cross of Nails School (ICONS). This means that our school challenges prejudice, fosters peaceful and relationships and celebrates diversity. We believe that both staff and pupils should learn how to manage conflict in positive and creative ways.

On the night of the 14th November 1940, 515 German bombers carried out an attack on Coventry. Throughout the night, bombs fell, which destroyed water supplies, telephone lines, gas and electricity. Coventry Cathedral was hit and flames engulfed the building. By the following morning, Coventry Cathedral was in ruins. Yet, hope emerged from the ashes. Two of the cathedral’s charred roof timbers had fallen in the shape of a cross. They were bound together and placed on an altar of rubble in the cathedral. The vicar of nearby church fashioned together three of the medieval nails that had fallen from the roof. This became the first Cross of Nails.

Provost Richard Howard took some chalk and wrote ‘Father Forgive’ on the charred walls of the cathedral. It is significant he wrote only two words, he did not write ‘Father Forgive Them.’ He wanted everyone to recognise their own part in the destructive patterns of behaviours which can lead to disaster. Provost Howard also wanted to make a commitment not to seek revenge but to strive for reconciliation with the enemy.

The Cross of Nails quickly became a sign of hope, friendship and reconciliation. Over subsequent years hundreds of crosses of nails have been gifted to churches, charities and organisations committed to peace and reconciliation. In 1976 recipients of the Cross of Nails formed an ecumenical ‘Community of the Cross of Nails’.

The Community of the Cross of Nails has three residing principles; healing the wounds of history, learning to live with difference and celebrate diversity, and building a culture of peace.