During lockdown, we’re already learning to adapt without many simple pleasures like going to cafés, or restaurants, or a bookshop. But also, one of the things we miss is being in and around those beautiful sacred spaces that we frequent each week for Mass. That’s why we’re running a series on spaces around the Archdiocese – particularly St Patrick’s Cathedral – that reminds people of the beauty around us in the Archdiocese, but also to inspire hope that we’ll come to these places with new appreciation once the lockdown ends. Let us pray for the triumph of Christ as we continue during lockdown and we welcome you tune in to celebrate Mass this Sunday at 11am.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help
Whether you’ve been a visitor of St Pat’s Cathedral throughout the years or have tuned in to Mass each Sunday recently, you will have noticed this beautiful Byzantine icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. It’s a copy of the 13th century original and was written by Andrew Molcyzyk in 2002. Molcyzyk was responsible for the restoration of works at the Cathedral between 1995 and 1996.
The original icon has over centuries been associated with many healings and special graces. With the strength and gentleness depicted in Mary holding the Child Jesus, hovering in the upper corners of the icon are St Michael holding the spear, the wine-soaked sponge, and the crown of thorns and St Gabriel, holding the cross and nails. The usage of the golden background is said to convey the triumph of Christ over sin and death – a sign of the glory of the Resurrection.
The Archbishop’s Chair
No cathedral is technically a cathedral without the cathedra (Latin for 'seat') of a bishop. For those tuning in for Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral on Sundays, you’ll notice the chair Archbishop Peter sits on during the weekly service. If you look closely, the fabric is embroidered in a Celtic fashion reflecting the mosaics of the four evangelists taken from the Book of Kells. This same imagery was used in the sanctuary floor as part of the Cathedral’s restoration in the mid-90s. These classic symbols are of the Eagle, the Calf, the Man, and the Lion which represent evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
The Ascension Window
If you’ve sat near the west door at St Pat’s Cathedral, you’ll have no doubt noticed The Ascension Window. Built as part of the Western façade which could be seen by local Melburnians on Albert Street as early as 1862 during the Cathedral’s construction.
If you look closely and beyond the beautiful rich colours of the stained glass you will notice that the central panel features Christ ascending into Heaven with angels on either side of him carrying scrolls. The message on these scrolls are written in Latin text from the Acts of the Apostles, reading ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up to Heaven?’ and ‘This is Jesus who is taken from you into Heaven’.
Below the image of Jesus stand Mary and the eleven surviving apostles while Old Testament figures accompany Christ on his journey into Paradise. Further above are the ancient Christian symbols of Christ as the Paschal Lamb with a flag flying a red cross.