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Westminster Cathedral


Gerontius I

marble panel
All Souls Chapel Westminster Cathedral

Notes on this work

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Gerontius II
marble panel
installed All Souls Chapel Westminster Cathedral

Cardinal Newman
study for tesserae panel 2005
installed 2008 

The following text by Tom Phillips first appeared under the title 'A Further Step In Cathedral Decoration' in the November 2003 issue of Oremus, the magazine of Westminster Cathedral.

It was a great thrill to be asked to make a contribution to the splendid fabric of Westminster Cathedral, which I have known since I first attended High Mass there as a schoolboy fifty years ago. My work has often centred around devotional subjects but there is extra excitement in making art for a living church.

The two new panels will take their place in conjunction with a proposed mosaic portrait of Cardinal Newman in the memorial context of the Chapel of Holy Souls. The realisation of the project coincides with the hundredth anniversary of the first London performance of Sir Edward Elgar's magical setting of Newman's poem The Dream of Gerontius. This took place with Elgar himself conducting in the cathedral itself. The work tells the story of an old man's dying vision of the journey of his soul. His name, Gerontius, whose root is now more popularly known through terms like gerontology in hospital departments, occupies one of the panels. Its letters are set in and energised by the five lines of the musical stave which support him. I hope that this might become a focus for meditation for those with elderly friends or relatives about to make that same journey.