Monday, 18 April 2022

The ‘Stony Stratford Cross’
portrays the Risen Christ
and tells the Easter story

The ‘Stony Stratford Cross’ or ‘Christ in Majesty’ by Anthony Weller, above the High Altar in the Church of Saint Mary and Giles, Stony Stratford, on Easter morning (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Patrick Comerford

Throughout Lent, the principal icons and images in the Church of Saint Mary and Giles in Stony Stratford have been covered in traditional Lenten colours.

So, at the Easter Eucharist in the parish church yesterday on Easter Day (17 April 2022), it was good to see for the first time the ‘Stony Stratford Cross’ or ‘Christ in Majesty’ by Anthony Weller, above the High Altar.

This Cross was specially commissioned by the parish when the church was being reordered and redecorated after a disastrous fire in 1968.

The cross was sculpted by Antony Weller (1927-1991), and it reminds me of similar works in Coventry, Cambridge and Lichfield.

This fibreglass crucifix is a 4.5 metre high cross with a resin figure of ‘Christ in Majesty’. It represents the Living Christ, who offers us all the New Life of the Resurrection.

Behind Christ is his cross. In his hands and his feet, he shows the wounds of his crucifixion, but not the nails. His face is very much alive. His body is not slumped but instead stands with arms outstretched to welcome all who are prepared to serve him.

A description nearby says, ‘He is a living force in the world today – not a dead hero from the past.’

Weller may have been inspired by the representation of the Risen Christ in Graham Sutherland’s great tapestry in Coventry Cathedral. Or perhaps Weller found inspiration in the Majestas Christi, the ‘Majesty of Christ’, sculpted in gilded wood by Alan Durst for Great Saint Mary’s Church, Cambridge, in 1959 and installed in 1960.

The imagery in Durst’s golden sculpture above the High Altar in Great Saint Mary’s draws on the Book of Revelation. Christ stands in front of the cross as the tree of life, his hands and feet are marked by the wounds of the crucifixion.

There is similar portrayal of the Risen Christ in John Piper’s later East Window in the Chapel in Saint John’s Hospital in Lichfield, depicting ‘Christ in Majesty’ (1984).

After yesterday’s Parish Eucharist in Stony Stratford, the Easter Garden in front of the High Altar was blessed, and there were Easter eggs too for all the children … and even for some of the adults.

The Easter Garden in the Church of Saint Mary and Giles, Stony Stratford, below the High Altar and the ‘‘Stony Stratford Cross’ by Anthony Weller (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

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