St John The Evangelist Roman Catholic Church, the city of Bath 2018
Our Lady of Bath, Queen of Peace
The largest single block of stone in Bath is the 7.5 tonnes of Portland stone which was delivered and then carved on site on the banks of the river Avon in the garden of St John The Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in the summer of 2018. The opening ceremony in October saw the completion of the 3 month long project with a beautiful late Autumn day to celebrate the transformation of this garden.
Ben was commissioned to make a contemporary statue of Mary mother of Christ, for St John's which brought together the traditions of the past with the technologies of our present time. By Using Solar power to light the finished work at night, his vision was to use nature to bring light into the darkness and illuminate the statue in the darkest hours and have this aspect be a link to the fact that Mary gave birth to Jesus, the light of the world.
The apostle John writes 8:12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
The statue is part of the regeneration of the garden at the back of the church, which proved to be an amazing studio for the duration of Ben's carving giving local residents and visitors to the city the chance to see him working the huge block of stone, day by day. And slowly as the figure of Mother Mary emerged in the stone, he began to find her in his heart. Ben says "I began to see Mother Mary bit by bit, it was as if she were reveling herself to me not only in the stone but in the very core of my being".
The first stages were time to get to 'know' the stone and find the scale of the figure within. She is seven and a half feet tall and as such this statue is one of the largest in this part of the country and is to become part of the many dedications to Mother Mary which will have an even greater importance as we approach 2020 and the Re-dedication of England as Mary's dowry.
The details show her 'welcome' as well as the powerful aspect of Mary having dominion over original sin. The teachings held within this sculpture show reverence to the Mother of God on earth for she is full of compassion and holds her arms wide enough to hold us all, for all time.The radiating facets behind her reference on one side the Seven Sorrows and the other the Seven Joys of Mother Mary. They radiate from the mid point of her womb and it is here we find some of the core teachings of the Church which are accessible to us all if we just open our eyes, minds and hearts.
Whatever faith, beliefs or even non beliefs we may hold, try a visit to this space and see what you feel. I for one can say that a true sense of peace is here, in this tucked away part of one of England's most beautiful cities.
"A special thanks to the Master of stone, Monoleeto Sanger, who has been, and continues to, be a powerful brother in arms against the darkness. His generosity and skills have yet again proved to be invaluable, for without him this sculpture would not be here. Thanks also to all the team at St John's especially Tom for his daily prayers and calm devotion and Canon David for all his wisdom, guidance and hospitality. This really has been the most epic journey for me and one which will continue to feed my creative spirit for all time to come. Thanks be to God, for him alone is all our work done."
Benjamin C Dearnley