New Painting for the Church

St. John the Evangelist –

St. John Painting

Many thanks to the generous benefactors for this beautiful gift to the parish and to the artist Robert Senior. Why did we chose St. John the evangelist? For various reasons which I’ll explain in the future. A kind parishioner has written the following short account of St. John’s life –

St John The Evangelist

St John was the youngest of the apostles, probably about twenty-five years old when he was called with his brother James by Jesus to be one of his disciples. Despite his youth he had a prominent position in the group of Twelve and was always among the small group Jesus took with him on specific occasions. He was with Peter and James when Jesus entered Peter’s house in Capernaum to cure his mother-in law (cf. Mk 1:29); with the other two, he followed the Teacher into the house of Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue whose daughter he was to bring back to life (cf. Mk 5:37); he followed him when he climbed the mountain for his Transfiguration (cf. Mk 9:2). He was beside the Lord on the Mount of Olives; and, lastly, he was close to him in the Garden of Gethsemane when he withdrew to pray to the Father before the Passion (cf. Mk 11:33). Shortly before the Passover, when Jesus chose two disciples to send them to prepare the room for the Supper, it was to him and to Peter that he entrusted this task (cf. Lk 22:8).

St John is often referenced as ‘the disciple that Jesus loved’. He accompanied Christ through his Passion from Gethsemane to the crucifixion and was the only disciple to stand at the foot of the cross while all the others had abandoned Jesus in fear and confusion. Here Our Lord gave the final assurance of his confidence in St John by entrusting the care of his holy mother to him and designating him as her son in his place thereby extending to us all the maternal care of Our Lady.

After Christ’s ascension the apostles took up their various missions while it is believed St John mostly stayed in Jerusalem presumably to stay with Our Lady. St Clement of Alexandria tells us that John assisted at the council which the apostles held in Jerusalem in the year 51 and at the council at which the remaining living apostles held in Jerusalem in the year 62. It is widely believed, although there is no definitive account, that St John and Our Lady at some point took up residence just outside Ephesus. St Timothy (a disciple of St Paul) was Bishop of Ephesus at the time St John lived there and according to an account written by St John Damascene (in 675) St Timothy and St John were both present at Our Lady’s Assumption.

St John founded many churches in Asia Minor and his two disciples, Polycarp and Ignatius became Bishops respectively of Smyrna (Izmir in modern Turkey) and Antioch (Syria). In the year 95 St John was apprehended by the proconsul of Asia and sent to Rome where miraculously he was preserved from death when he was thrown into a cauldron of boiling oil. He was subsequently exiled to the island of Patmos where he received the heavenly visions which he recorded in the Apocalypse. In 97 his exile was voided and he returned to Ephesus from where he continued to travel around Asia Minor founding churches and appointing bishops.

The Church Fathers tell us that it was principally to refute the heresies of Cerinthus which denied the divinity of Christ, that St John wrote his Gospel. St Thomas Aquinas writes in the prologue to his commentary on St John’s Gospel, ‘While the other Evangelists treat principally of the mysteries of the humanity of Christ, John, especially and above all, makes known the divinity of Christ in his Gospel’. The Gospel of John is certainly the most mystical and theological of all the Gospels. According to Clement of Alexandria: ‘John, perceiving that the other Evangelists had set forth the human side of the Person of Jesus, at the insistence of his disciples composed a spiritual Gospel.’ St John himself tells us explicitly what the object of his Gospel was: ‘Many other signs also did Jesus in the sight of His disciples which are not written in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that by believing you may have life in his name’

St John is usually symbolised by an eagle as explained by St Thomas Aquinas: ‘The other three Evangelists, concerned with those things which Christ did in his flesh, are symbolised by animals which walk on the earth, namely, by a man, a bull calf, and a lion. But John flies like an eagle above the cloud of human weakness and looks upon the light of unchanging truth with the most lofty and firm eyes of the heart. And gazing on the very deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which he is equal to the Father, he has striven in this Gospel to confide this above all, to the extent that he believed was sufficient for all.’

St John is the only Apostle not to be martyred, rather dying of natural causes in his nineties. St Jerome tells a famous story of “blessed John the evangelist” in extreme old age at Ephesus. He used to be carried into the congregation in the arms of his disciples and was unable to say anything except, “Little children, love one another.” At last, wearied that he always spoke the same words, they asked: “Master, why do you always say this?” “Because,” he replied, “it is the Lord’s command, and if this only is done, it is enough.”

 

St John The Evangelist, pray for us.

 

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Summer Events

Early June brought some parishioners to a section of the Camino in Northern Spain (from Pamplona to Logrono). Here John makes his way up Alto Del Perdon.

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Pilgrims have travelled this route from the Middle Ages

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One of the beautiful bridges along the route and Puente De La Reina

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Some of the Weybridge Pilgrims taking a well earned break

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A very early morning start to avoid the heat of the day

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A welcome sight – the Cathedral at Logrono. We’ll continue from this spot next year. See the parish newsletter for more details.

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A taste of Spain in Weybridge. This event was organised as a fundraiser for parish youth activities. Pictured below are some of our altar servers playing in the garden.

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Our musicians travelled over from Valencia

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We had a number of lovely marriage celebrations over the Summer. All of the marriages managed to avoid the rain. Bianca and Fredrick below.

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Sarah and Chris arrive. Sarah is one of our First Holy Communion Catechists.

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Hannah and Richard celebrated their Church wedding here before heading off to Hannah’s home town in Northern Sweden for the celebrations

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First Holy Communions

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Today was a special day for the parish as 76 of our young parishioners received Holy Communion for the first time. The above group celebrated Mass at 3pm and the group below received the sacrament at the 11am Mass. Thanks to everyone who helped with the preparations and celebrations.

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Recent Events

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30 young people from the parish attended the Flame event at Wembley arena along with 8000 other young Catholics

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Congratulations to  Rosemary Noble who was awarded the Benemerenti medal recently for her many years of devoted service to the parish (pictured here with her family and deacon Paul)

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Andy and a few of the lads on the recent youth and family pilgrimage to Lisieux and Paris. It was a very enjoyable trip and the highlight for me was the stay at the Sacre-Coeur.

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Adam and Barbara Simon were our guides for the pilgrimage – having lived in France for 10 years. Their expert knowledge was a great help.

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A young Polish parishioner reads a prayer at the Blessing of food on Holy Saturday – an important Polish tradition. The church was almost prepared for the Easter Vigil when this photo was taken – hence the divergent symbols (can you spot what I mean?)

Parishioners in Jordan

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Six of our parishioners visited Amman last week to strengthen links with our partner parish there and to observe the work that parishes in Amman are undertaking to help the large influx of refugees. Pictured left to right are Charles, Claire, Anna, Sara, Chris and Clare.

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Charles is at the back of the class taking in a few tips on the English speaking course!!

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Fr. Hanni showing Sara, Charles and Chris the parish gardens where produce is grown to feed the families fleeing persecution.

New Icon

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Come to Christ the Prince of Peace church in Weybridge to pray before this amazing Icon – unveiled today 8th December 2016 – the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Here is some information about the Icon:

AXION ESTIN (DOSTOINO EST) ICON, by Nigel Wright

  1. On the scroll held in the right hand of Jesus is a quotation in Church Slavonic from Luke Chapter 4 (itself quoted from Isaiah Chapter 6): ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent me…’

In the upper left and right-hand corners of the icon we find abbreviated references to Mary’s Greek title: Meter = Mother (on the left), Theou = of God (on the right) – hence ‘Mother of God’.

Just to the left of Jesus’s halo is the Christogram for ‘Iesus Khristos’ – Jesus Christ – in Greek.

To the right is an inscription which translates: ‘Image of the Most Holy Mother of God, It Is Truly Meet’, which is found on some icons of this type.

2. There are stars on Our Lady’s forehead and shoulder, symbolizing her perpetual virginity (the one on her right shoulder, as is often the case, is obscured by Jesus’s head and halo).

3. The pearls on Mary’s garments and crown also symbolize her immaculate purity.

4. Axion Estin/Dostoino Est icons usually depict Mary’s outer robes as red, rather than the more usual russet-maroon.

5. The two angels are usually considered to be, on the left, the Archangel Michael, and on the right, the Archangel Gabriel.

More generally, so far as my own experience of producing the icon is concerned, I can say that it was a technically slow, very traditional kind of painting involving the use of slow-drying ‘stand linseed oil’ and the need to ensure that each successive paint-layer was properly dry in order to avoid wrinkling and cracking. Stand oil was widely used by the Old Masters. It forms a very strong film with minimal yellowing over the years. It is made by heating linseed oil in the absence of air, thus polymerizing it.

The icon is on a substantial mahogany-ply board (to minimize warping), and painted with high-quality oil paints distinguished for their permanence and light-fastness. Many of the most beautiful traditional pigments were, unfortunately, rather fugitive, but recent chemistry has come up with some wonderful permanent pigments. The old earth-pigments, of course, still play a vital role, and are absolutely permanent. The board was first sealed by a couple of layers of warm rabbit-skin glue size. Rabbit-skin glue is flexible and unlikely to crack. It seals the board (or canvas) against penetration by oil in the next stage: two layers of oil-based white priming (the white pigment these days being titanium dioxide; the old lead oxide being highly toxic and now difficult to obtain). When the priming was dry, I drew the outlines of the icon on the white surface with a soft pencil. I then drew over these lines with a fine brush and blackish oil paint thinly diluted with turpentine. When this was dry, I applied over the whole surface another layer of priming, but thinned with turpentine and tinted with earth-colours such as burnt umber and burnt sienna, so that the under-drawing still showed through faintly. When this was dry, the actual painting process began, following the ‘fat on lean’ principle of adding more oil to each successive paint-layer to minimise cracking and other problems. The whole was finished with a conservation varnish supplied by Winsor & Newton.
Painting the icon was not just an artistic or technical procedure. It was frequently a form of prayer. You approach the task with as much humility as you can muster, then proceed step by step, one step after another, trusting that in the end everything will come together in a worthy image of Our Lady. At times you pray literally for help with realising different aspects of the image, or for help with technically challenging areas. You never forget that you are painting one of the most exalted of all subjects, and that whatever abilities one may possess (or think one possesses), they can never do justice to Our Lady herself.