Wednesday, 22 April 2009

York Minster.

This statue of Saint Peter stands in the great West doorway of York Minster, with the doors on either side of the slender pillar on which the statue perches. The Minster has a great history of living the faith which it was built and modified for over the centuries and has foundations almost as old as the Church I am going to in June, which was built by St Wilfrid. Talking of which, I now have my ember cards and need to write a list of people to send them to. Obviously those whose addresses I know will receive one but there are people with whom I correspond via email whose addresses I do not have. If you would like a printed card, therefore, I am very happy to send you one, just email me at andrewteather at . Otherwise I hope that nobody will be offended if I publish one to this blog as a 'general' ember card.

I hope in this post to share some of my pictures of York Minster taken this last Passiontide, showing some of the less often seen parts, including this very fine crucifix which hangs by the tills (I know, I know) by the North doors, where you will enter the Minster if not arriving for services. This problem of charging for entry to the House of God is a taxing one, but as most visitors come for the architecture and to 'tick it off the list' (gee, Elmer, I've been to Yorkinchestershire) then it seems reasonable to charge - if during the time the visitors spend in the Minster something of the Divine can be relayed to them, then this would seem to be the challenge. Without the revenue, alas, the building would have to find another source of funding and, frankly, I do not know what that would be. The many, regular services of course are free to access and, to their great credit, the people manning the tills are kind and considerate and very fast to wave worshippers through, unlike at Saint Paul's Cathedral where it feels rather like going to the pleasure beach.

This fine medieval corner in the Chapel of reservation is where the Oils are reserved. I have on occasion been accused of presenting a mythical medieval English view of the faith, which I was very happy about, and with dappled light on ancient stones in the Spring, who can blame me.

This is the tabernacle/aumbry, call it what you will, the place where the body of Christ is reserved and the reason for the continued existence of the Minster. If this Chapel were full of worshippers, who had paid their entry fee, paying homage to the Lord, then I should be arguing for the removal of the charge, but it is not, they are outside pointing at statues. Which is a perfectly normal thing for tourists to do - I do the same to an extent, although of course with far more style and as discreetly as I can!

The Chapel of reservation from the centre of the nave, you can see the interesting modern take on the Sarum array altar frontal from here, which may or may not be a good thing.

A further comedic example of the English Baroque. Do expand the picture, it is quite hilarious. This mixture of Protestant sensibilities with a precious Mitre and adoring angels is enough to put anybody off marble for life. The expressions on the faces of the angels are particularly bad - unsure whether to rejoice at the Bishops reception into Heaven or weep at his departure from this life, the artist has opted for a sort of general look of confusion and disinterest.

Ahh, that's more like it. The altars in the crypt for private Masses, all in Lenten array. traditionally blocked on in oxblood and black. Priests visiting the Minster from the York Province or beyond who wish to celebrate a Mass are offered one of these altars and I have to say that it is a very conducive place for the Sacred Mysteries.

The Canons stalls in the Quire by the High Altar.

And the beautiful High Altar itself, in glorious Passiontide red.

This is the Cathedra of the Archbishop of York, pushed to the side and looking a little sad roped off. It is another, more successful, example of the English Baroque, the cross on top and the curtains are particularly fine. The Latin inscription reads 'You did not choose me, I chose you' and it complements the inscription on the pulpit which translates as 'We preach Christ crucified'.

Here, finally, is the Dean leading stations of the cross around the Minster a few weeks ago. You can see my friend David to the right, clutching his order of service and small brown bag. Davis, this is the cope I mentioned.