When the Cathedral was destroyed by fire in November 1940, nothing was left apart from rubble, a few charred wooden beams, twisted metal girders, bits of wire, and a great profusion of nails of all sizes lying everywhere, with every particle of wood burnt away from them.
On the morning after the destruction of the Cathedral, the Rev. A. P. Wales, the Vicar of a Coventry church which had suffered grievous damage, picked up from the Cathedral ruins three large sharp nails, and, binding them with wire into a cross, took it to show to the Bishop. That was the first cross to be made from Cathedral nails.
A few months later Mr Wales gave Provost Howard a large cross of nails, now welded and chromium plated. Its shape was remarkable—the upright and the side arms being each half the length of the stem. Its symbolism of three nails was poignantly suggestive of the Crucifixion, its shining surface betokened the joy of the Resurrection. Its impact on the mind and heart was startling and profound.
Since then the Cross of Nails has become the symbol of the cathedral’s international ministry for reconciliation. A network of Cross of Nails Centres now exists with hundreds of partners around the world.