Creation of icons based on the Book of Revelation

Ely Cathedral, a Bunch of Franciscans and a Marvellous Mary.

Virgin Mary, Lady Chapel  at Ely Cathedral

Virgin Mary, Lady Chapel at Ely Cathedral

Last weekend (18th-20th October, 2013) was one well looked forward to.  A retreat at Ely Cathedral for the East of England region of Tertiary Franciscans. Our local area, the Chiltern Group had decided to book up en masse at Bishop Woodford House so we could experience the day without rushing there and having to travel back.  We had much opportunity to talk and enjoy one another’s company and I felt this was very special for me. I am now working with my young people most Saturdays so miss a lot of the area meetings or just get the tail end if it is very local and I can get there in time.  Cameraderie is very important for Franciscans, it is not simply an association, we are a true family in Christ.

I loved Ely and the cathedral but most especially the pneumatic sculpture of Mary.  Forgive my adjective but it is the right one.  I was not sure about her at first but as our event progressed and I regarded her overseeing our proceedings in that dramatic pose as if she is about to launch herself over the top of us, I warmed to her.  She is all woman, quite Nordic, almost Icelandic in expression. She would make any man think twice before speaking to her.

We renewed our vows for the year and I was assigned to the workshop called Work.  It was interesting and one of the speakers likened attitudes to work with a set of characters who were affiliated with one or other of our Principles. Work is important for me and I am free to work as much as I like and consequently do.  Being self employed in two areas: tutoring and art, seems to fill my days, evening  and nights quite easily.  I have to be strict about Sundays – my day off from all of it and Wednesdays which are now sacrosanct as my Artist’s Day where I either continue to work on current projects or sort out my art plan or go visiting somewhere new to get new ideas or inspiration. It has become a special day for me and has a strong feeling of holiness.  Indeed the room where I paint is now well set up and I feel an intense inner joy each time I walk in to my work space. For the first time in a long while I feel I am doing the work I was meant to be doing with the right balance of prayer, work and creativity.  Furthermore I am embarking on a small social enterprise that I will set up early next year.  I am excited about this as it has so many Franciscanly values attached to it. It will come shortly before my profession as a tertiary proper and I anticipate this will form the core of my work as a Franciscan in years to come.  I will keep you posted.

One of the highlights of the weekend at Ely was the sculpture at the cathedral. How I loved it and especially the Christ by Hans Freiburg below.

Resurrected Christ with holes in his hands.

Resurrected Christ with holes in his hands.

The figure simply invites you to place your hands in his.  He is life size and above you, so as you hold his hands and feel the cleft of the wounds in the palms of his hands you look up into his strained face and feel so much love and compassion from him it melts you completely and utterly.  The sculptor could only have had the most intense relationship with Him to have produced such a magnificent work.  I will never forget it.

St. Etheldreda

St. Etheldreda

She is magnificent, almost like some ancient goddess and the stone sculture is so fine you have to touch.

Mary Magdalene with Christ by the tomb.

Mary Magdalene with Christ by the tomb.


Statue of Mary in Bishop Woodford house

Statue of Mary in Bishop Woodford house

I love the sernenity of her face, she is beautiful.

We all enjoyed our visit immensely, especially the bar which was open for us to use and write our own tabs on each night!  I assure you we were well behaved. I had a scotch and ginger with one of my colleagues on Friday night and was reminded of cosy evenings with my own father who was partial to a drop of Bells.

During lunch hour on the day of our meeting I spent a good half hour doing my first brass rubbing of an incredible, almost teutonic image of Mary. I have no photo at present of the rubbing but have the plaque – see below –  it was a magical experience.  I was transported back to childhood when I used to do magic painting with a brush of water on a blank page which would then become filled with an image and wonderful colours.  An elderly couple kept me company and watched as it progressed and then one of the Franciscans came over and gave me a hand bringing up the definition of the lettering.  He was very dear and we worked companionably.  I must also thank the lovely lady called June, from the cathedral shop who expertly set me up and showed me what to do.  She was great and I would go back just to have another go and see her again. She could not do enough to make it a special experience.


And one final word:

Altar frontal, Lady Chapel, Ely

Altar frontal, Lady Chapel, Ely


9 responses

  1. ray barnes

    It sounds a wonderful and very full as well as very fulfilling retreat Constantina. I am so glad you are able to do what you feel called to do and are enjoying your new freedom from earlier constraints.
    Blessings. I miss you.

    October 26, 2013 at 7:02 am

    • Constantina

      Miss you too and interesting chats over Carolyn’s wondrous cappuccinos xxxx

      October 26, 2013 at 4:37 pm

  2. What a great description, and so nice to see the sculptures. I’d love to see your brass rubbing sometime, too! I was trying to describe this to Old Jules but he hadn’t seen them when he was in England and didn’t really “get it.” I have done it several times, though.
    That statue of Mary in the house is really terrific.

    October 27, 2013 at 2:49 am

    • Thanks for comment. Well I guess Old Jules could rub some tree bark . We used to do that as children. However there’s something magical about the black paper and gold wax. Good to hear from you

      Sent from my HTC

      October 27, 2013 at 6:27 am

  3. Reblogged this on deniseestherberry and commented:
    Marvelous travel and spiritual commentary

    October 29, 2013 at 9:02 pm

  4. Glad to read an update. It’s always so good to get your observations along with the pictures.

    November 2, 2013 at 11:22 pm

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