A 50cm x 140cm mosaic of Saint Dominic (1170 - 1221), Castilian Catholic priest and founder of the Dominican Order, has been unveiled at Chichester Cathedral, where it was blessed by the Bishop of Chichester, the Right Reverend Dr Martin Warner.
The artwork was produced by liturgical artist James Blackstone and is the outcome of The Art of Worship – a three-month long artist residency that took place within Chichester Cathedral earlier this year.
During the residency, James worked alongside fellow liturgical artist Martin Earle within a custom-built studio. The project was developed with celebrated liturgical artist Aidan Hart. All three draw on the same spiritual wells as the Cathedral’s first builders and employ the same techniques that defined Christian art prior to the Renaissance, including egg tempera, fresco, water gilding, carving, and hand-cut glass mosaic.
The mosaic of Saint Dominic is made of glass from Murano, Venice. The glass tesserae are cut and set into wet lime plaster as a working surface, before being set permanently into mortar. Saint Dominic is shown with bare feet, carrying a crossed staff, signifying his itinerant life. He also carries a copy of the gospels from which he preached. The vestments he wears, for the Dominican order, were developed in his own lifetime.
Saint Richard (Bishop of Chichester, 1244 – 1253) was prepared for the priesthood by the Dominican Order in Orléans and St Dominic’s apostolic spirituality informed his ministry across the Diocese of Chichester (of which the Cathedral is the Mother Church, and encompasses the counties of East and West Sussex). The Cathedral has drawn inspiration from Dominican life within its new vision, due to be published in September 2022.
The Right Reverend Dr Warner, who is passionate about the renewal of liturgical art and has been a keen supporter of the project, said:
“St Dominic was one of the spiritual giants of the late medieval Church, and his influence still inspires us in Chichester today. James Blackstone’s mosaic of St Dominic captures the essence of Dominic as filled with light, radiating the truth of the mystery of God, illuminating the shadows of this passing age.”
“A central joy in working on Saint Dominic, in studio alongside Martin Earle, was being immersed in the wonderful worshipping life of the Cathedral. The music, the surrounding visual arts, and above all the people of the Cathedral community, together inspired and encouraged the whole process of imaging this great saint whose example irradiates the Church’s life."
The artwork was unveiled on Monday 8th August, on the Feast Day of Saint Dominic, with guest preacher Br Bede Mullens OP, a Dominican friar from Blackfriars, Oxford.