Westminster Abbey, Day 8

A simple farewell.  The choir bid a glorious farewell to the abbey with yet another beautiful Evensong on Sunday evening.  My farewell, however, was rather quiet – Morning Prayer in Saint Faith’s Chapel at 7:30 this morning.  Tucked away in the South Transept, the Chapel is marked by the remarkable six-foot tall, late-13th century painting depicting the crowned figure of the saint that adorns the east wall above the altar.  Little known by many today, Saint Faith was a late 3rd century martyr, said to have been burned in a grid-iron for her refusal to recant her face during the persecutions of Diocletian.  After the final words were said, and a few hugs and handshakes with new friends, I made my way through the silent nave and out the west doors and look one final time at the figures that stand above the great doors:  Maximilian Kolbe (Poland), Manche Masemola (South Africa), Janani Luwum (Uganda), Grand Duchess Elizabeth (Russia), Martin Luther King jr. (USA), Oscar Romero (El Salvador), Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Germany), Esther John (Pakistan), Lucian Tapiedi (Papua New Guinea) and Wang Zhiming (China).

Together, these ten figures, completed and dedicated less than twenty years ago, make up the 20th century martyrs and stand as a stark reminder of the call of our faith.  The west door of the Abbey calls into the solidarity with the Dr. Kings and Janani Luwums and Esther Johns of our world today.  Their hallowed presence reminds us that we are called not only to learn about and pray for the victims of hunger, poverty, war, and oppression in the world today, but to steel ourselves for the work of transformation and resistance itself.  For, like Elisha so long ago, we are called to pick up the mantle that others once bore; we are called to work for the transformation of the world itself until hunger, poverty, war, and oppression are no more.

Fr. Drew

(image captured from Wikipedia link)