20th July 2022

This Wednesday I shall be doing a morning shift at the National Trust House at Tyntesfield. I will be in the chapel built in 1875 by William Gibbs to the glory of God. We know who was the architect, who designed the windows and the mosaics but we have no names for those who actually worked in stone and glass. In particular we have no name for the blacksmith who made the beautiful wrought iron gates in the porch designed to keep the birds out when the doors are open.

I was thinking about this when we went to Elne Cathedral and Cloister in France this summer. (Elne is about 15 miles south of Perpignan and is a small hill town dating from pre-Roman times.)

The cloister has wonderful carving on the pillars dating from about 1000AD telling as many bible stories as they could fit in. There is Christ’s baptism, Saul on the Damascus Road, Mary visited by Gabriel, Mary going to see Elizabeth about it and Zechariah behind a pillar trying to hear what they are saying. There are the three magi talking to Herod with a servant holding their horses (not camels). A thousand years ago someone spent months/years proclaiming the Gospel in stone. I wish we knew who he was. A slow way, perhaps and he would never have dreamt how many people have stopped and thought about the gospel through his work.

What we have made is unlikely to last that long but sometimes a casual remark about our faith touches someone and we will never know!

Margaret Clements