Friday, September 2, 2011

The Martyrs of New Guinea

The New Guinea Martyrs stained glass window in St. Peter's East Hill,
 by Napier Waller

The Memorial Window is located in the northern transept of St. Peter's Eastern Hill, above the Lady Chapel. Archbishop Philip Strong was in no doubt that the inspiration for this window came from Canon Farnham E. Maynard who, as one of Bishop Strong's Commissaries, had represented St Peter's Church and the Church in Australia at the consecration of the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul in Dogura in October 1939. Maynard found an able collaborator for this work in the local artist, Napier Waller, who had specialized in stained glass and mosaics since the 1930s, and had already completed several major works before the commission for this window in 1945.

The first news of deaths of missionaries after the Japanese invasion at Buna Beach arrived at St. Peter's by October, 1942, and Father Maynard preached a significant sermon about these events at Evensong on October 11.

Father Maynard also preached a number of sermons on the window in the weeks before it was dedicated. The text which he chose for his sermons on the window was "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." (I John, 5:4). In the Parish Paper of October 1946, Maynard writes:–
This sums up the message of the window. I suggested that the window might be read both vertically and horizontally. The vertical message is clear. It begins at the left-hand top corner, where attention is called to the beauty of nature, which rightly understood tells of God. The story then passes on through school and hospital, through building and pastoral care, through tragedy and martyrdom, through desolation and restoration, up to the right-hand corner, where the priest is seen offering the Sacrifice of Praise as he gazes beyond the earthly Altar to the glory of the eternal City of God. Earth is redeemed and sin overcome by the faith which lays hold of the beauty, the truth and the goodness of God. 

The horizontal message, it seems to me, to speak rather differently of the revelation of these same great Values perceived by faith—beauty, truth and goodness. Reading across, the top panels tell of natural beauty, ecclesiastical beauty and supernatural beauty. A little lower, reading horizontally, we are introduced into spheres of work, schools, hospitals, cathedral-building, and reconstruction. But work must be based upon truth, or it will not stand. The teacher must know the truth, so must the doctor, the priest, and the architect, each in their own department of knowledge. He who said: ‘I am the Truth,’ said also, ‘My Father worketh hitherto and I work.’ Then, on the lowest level, the three panels speak of Goodness. In no way can goodness be so arrestingly shown as in sacrifice. What more need be said? ‘The Good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep.’ And, ‘They, knowing full well the risk, elected to stay with their flock.’”...
In summarizing his feelings about the window and its dedication at High Mass on October 27, 1946, Father Maynard writes the following:
It seemed at least to the writer of this letter that here we had for once everything in its right place. The emphasis right, upon the forward essential spiritual work of the Church, which includes social and personal redemption. This was proclaimed in a setting of worship from which nothing was wanting through ignorance or prejudice. All was there of beauty and art which we knew how to offer. All was in place, great music, under the hand of a master musician,—God bless him; a glorious window, just dedicated, created by a great artist in glass; incense and holy water, vestments and lights, colours and concerted movement, all expressive, however imperfectly, of the unimaginable beauty of the courts of the All Holy One. And all this was in balance and proportion, was unobtrusive, as the best art is, seemingly inevitable.


Yes, heaven has come down to meet us;
It hangs in our atmosphere;
Its beautiful open secret
Is whispered in every ear.
And everywhere, here and always,
If we would but open our eyes,
We should find, through these beaten footpaths,
Our way into Paradise.
We should walk there with one another;
Nor halting, disheartened, wait
To enter a dreamed of City
By a faroff,
shadowy Gate.
Dull earth would be dull no longer;
The clod would sparkle a gem;
And our hands, at their commonest labor,
Would be building Jerusalem.
For the clear, cool river of Eden
Flows fresh through our dusty streets;
We may feel its spray on our foreheads
Amid wearisome noontide heats.
We may share the joy of God’s angels,
On the errands that He has given;
We may live in a world transfigured,
And sweet with the air of heaven.

Lucy Larcom (1824–1893)

1 comment:

Fr. John said...