One of the most compelling sights to meet the eye inside the Cathedral is the Lorimer Rood Cross, which hangs over the Nave Altar. Designed as part of the national War Memorial by Sir Robert Lorimer and completed in 1922, the figure of Christ is shown crucified against a background of Flanders poppies.
The High Altar
Scott designed the Cathedral so that this was the stunning centrepiece of attention the moment one enters the Cathedral. The intricate reredos behind the High Altar was designed by J Oldrid Scott. It frames a marble relief of the scene around the Cross at Calvary, and is flanked by smaller figures of St. Columba and St. Margaret, saints important in the development of Christianity in medieval Scotland. The sculptor was Mary Grant of Kilgraston, near Perth, who had worked with Scott on the restoration of Lichfield Cathedral.
The Paolozzi Window
This window was designed by Eduardo Paolozzi, who was born in Leith, to replace the plain glass rose and lancets in the Resurrection Chapel. Given in memory of Mary Carmichael, a much loved member of the congregation, it was dedicated in October 2002. When the sun floods through the window, it transforms the plain stone and woodwork into a kaleidoscope of colour.
The Organ is one of the finest in Scotland, built by ‘Father’ Willis in 1879. It is used to accompany the choir and congregation and to provide the voluntary, a final act of joyous worship which ends the services. It is also used for organ recitals throughout the year.
This well-known picture, painted by the Edinburgh artist A E Borthwick in 1910, has an intriguing history. The scene is the Cathedral itself, where communion is being distributed to the faithful in the distance at the High Altar. In the foreground though, a kneeling penitent is comforted by the presence of Christ behind her, bathed in radiant light. The painting was the subject of a celebrated legal action after it was illegally sold while being exhibited in Europe during World War I. The painting was eventually returned to Scotland and Borthwick presented it to the Cathedral in 1944. It now hangs alongside another painting of the same title (but set in St Paul’s Cathedral, London) and painted by Borthwick in 1940.