A Saint James Antependium

I happen to attend one of the many churches in our world named after St. James the Greater or ‘Big James’ as he might otherwise have been called… 😉
When Father first moved to the parish he said something about a frontal… I valiantly avoided him and such silly notions for ever so long!
Actually I was quite unwell and wasn’t in a place to take on a big project so it just didn’t happen until quite recently…

Traditional yet modern…

The serious conversations started when he pounced on me after Mass one morning in the latter part of last year. I looked about wildly for some charitable endeavour as a pretext for escape but there was none to be had, so chat we did!

As you no doubt know there are a couple of symbols widely associated with St. James; a particular shape of cross and the scallop shell. Well, I designed away but that cross just wasn’t speaking to me, I could not get the idea of small children asking their parents why was there a dagger on the altar out of my head!
Seriously, look up the St. James cross, you’ll get it!

Another wee chat was in order, “Why don’t you embroider a big shell in the middle?” Says he… an instant image of Botticelli’s ‘Birth of Venus’ leapt to mind and I gave him one of my special looks, then sloped off to bemoan my fate…

And then, of course, voila! Arrange the shells as a cross!
I worked up this chalice pall as a concept piece and off we went. Let’s take a look:

Intertwining gold threads…

I wanted the antependium to be both traditional yet fit with the rather new and simple church but I wanted, most of all, to weave prayer into its making.
The simple design I could see in my mind’s eye spoke to me of many things.

The shell itself, symbol of pilgrimage and baptism…
As I made the shells, the interplay of gold threads around the main silk thread spoke to me of our meandering journey in life, our very humanity as I saw both the double helix represented and our essential maleness and femaleness, the two in one flesh union of Holy Matrimony centred on communion with God.

Each shell has seven segments, seven sacraments… gifts of the Holy Spirit…

A pile of shells!

In the making and arrangement of these twelve shells I imagined and prayed into the work the apostles and evangelists and the seventy two disciples. The Blessed Trinity and The Holy Family. Calvary and The Wounds of Christ. A Pearl of Great Price…
Our voyage in life…
And more…

Details…
Details…

The frontal was finally ready and installed on October 16, 2021, the gospel reading for that weekend being about St. James and his brother, St. John.

The Saint James Frontal (Antependium)
Wonky Candlestick!!!

Many blessings on your day and thanks for reading.

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