The following is from the Rood and Ruthwell website.
- "The South Face has a (later?) Crucifixion at the base (which would have been visible when the Cross stood by itself rather than within a well). Above it is the Annunciation (a lesson in accepting the will of God), then the healing of a man born blind (the healing power of God), then Mary Magdalene anointing Jesus' feet (humility before God), and then, just below the head of the Cross, a panel of Mary and Martha, sisters of Lazarus, two women who, according to Carol A. Farr, "are meritorious in a Christian sense . . . . [As such, they] would be especially relevant to the ongoing process of Christianization in Anglo-Saxon society" (49).
To Farr, they are a pair comparable in their worthiness to Saints Paul and Anthony found on the North face. These scenes revolve around "Mary"--the different forms Mary can take (as the mother of God, the humble prostitute, or one of the two worthy sisters). There is a sense of Christ in His human form, from becoming man, to His acts as a person, to His physical death." About the Ruthwell Cross
[An alternate interpretation is offered here.] "The two panels just below the head of the Cross offer first a representation of either the Visitation (the Virgin Mary's visit to her sister Elizabeth, then pregnant with John the Baptist) or of Martha and Mary. The Latin inscription is essentially obliterated, reduced to "M....M..I...R." Howlett (74) finds the reading of Martha Maria mr (read as merentes) dominnae ("Martha [and] Mary, meritorious ladies") very satisfactory. Carol A. Farr builds on this reading, saying, "[T]he significance of Martha and Mary [as] women of high status who are meritorious in a Christian sense . . . would be especially relevant to the ongoing process of Christianization in Anglo-Saxon society" (49). To Farr, they are a pair comparable in their worthiness to Saints Paul and Anthony on the opposing North Face.." South Face
"Here we have a representation of Paul and Anthony breaking bread. This scene relates to the one above it as Anthony, searching for Paul in the desert, meets helpful beasts. When Paul and Anthony met, they had (ironically) a contest in humility; each insists on letting the other break the bread in Eucharistic fashion. They then decide to break the bread together. The Latin of the panel reads "+ SCS PAULUS ET A[ntonius duo eremitae (from Howlett 75)] FREGERUNT PANEM IN DESERTO," "Saints Paul and Anthony, two hermits, broke bread in the desert." North Face
The east and west faces have inscribed on them in runes the text of the Dream of the Rood.