History of the Parish - Sculptures

Sculptures - by David John

DAVID JOHN is married to Marianne, a noted painter, and has six children. He has worked professionally since 1951.


Many fine examples of his art have since left his studio and several of these can be seen in churches in the London area. Further afield is his sculpture in bronze of Our Lady at Liverpool Cathedral, another of Our Lady with Christ in Cardiff Cathedral, and the Processional Cross at Winchester Cathedral. In the Anglican Cathedral of Harare, Zimbabwe, is his sculpture of the Madonna and Child. He has also designed and made the Altar, Tabernacle and Lectern in the English College chapel in Rome.


Holy FamilyThe Church has a history of imagery which goes back to the second century and the underground chapels of the catacombs. There is a tradition that St Luke the Evangelist was an artist as well as a physician, and a painting of Our Lady is ascribed to him. Artists working for the Church were and are influenced by their personal experience, and attempt to reinterpret the message of the Gospels in the light of what they themselves have seen, heard and imagined.

The wood sculptures, which he designed and carved for the church of St Theodore, were influenced mainly by events which took place in other countries. The Christ Child of the Holy Family group is less like the Renaissance bambino and more like the beautiful children of Africa, starving in their millions. Our Lady and St Joseph are based on parents in the community of Rio Blanco in western Nicaragua, where a friend of David John joined a group of Danish men and women to build a school house in six months.

The background to the figures relates to the surrounding vegetation and to the tree of Life. You will see various messages in the relationships of the figures. For example, Our Lady looks towards the young children in your parish.


The siting of the crucifix is important, and the changes promoted by the Second Vatican Council encourage much wider consideration of the place of the Christ figure. When he was studying the architects drawings for this church, two alternatives seemed possible. One was for a suspended cross hung between the people and celebrant, and the other was for the processional cross to be placed on a stand on the step before the altar. He then read an account of the martyrdom of a young Brazilian parish worker while walking with his Bishop during a land dispute with tile agents of the owner of a large estate. At the same time he also heard from an American friend of the sanctuary being offered in US churches to refugees from the Central American countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. The accounts of Our Lord's compassion as related in the Gospels of that week compelled him to show the Christ close to the lectern and to those who will be reading the scriptures at your Masses.


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