New mosaic of St. David blessed by the Pope
Source: Independent Catholic News
A new mosaic of St David, patron saint of Wales, designed by artist
Ifor Davies, was blessed by Pope Benedict XVI when he celebrated
Mass at Westminster Cathedral on Saturday 18 September.
Welsh artist Davies said: "I have been painting all my life
and this is one of the most exciting commissions and very close
to my heart. I have always been interested in Welsh history and
so have done lots of research around St David and the early church
"To start with I made a drawing, about the same size of as
the mosaic, on very thick paper, and painted the image. Together
with Tessa Hunkin from Mosaic Workshop we traced the original image
in order to be able to put it into a mosaic format.
"St David is depicted as standing on a mound; the myth states
that he was preaching to a crowd and in order for them to be able
to hear him better the ground rose underneath him. The bit of stone
at the bottom of the mosaic is from Llanddewi Bref, the spot where
the miracle is said to have happened. There are also lots of other
references to stories associated with St David; the water coming
from his cup represents the fact that he drank only water for example."
The mosaic was an important part of the Cathedral's preparations
for the visit of Pope Benedict XVI. Cathedral Administrator Canon
Christopher Tuckwell said: "I am delighted with the mosaic.
When I first saw the drawing I could see that there was something
new, fresh and alive about it".
Tessa Hunkin from Mosaic Workshop, who made the mosaic using Davies'
painting, said: "It has been a great piece to work on, but
a bit more difficult than other mosaics because there is so much
gold and you have to use a slightly different technique when working
with gold, to ensure that it shimmers".
At the end of the Mass on 18 September the Pope blessed the mosaic
with water from St Nonn's well in Wales. St Nonn was the mother
of St David. He then addressed the people of Wales before concluding
the Mass in Westminster Cathedral.
In Westminster Cathedral's Oremus magazine (October
2010) Patrick Rogers tell us that Tessa Hunkin made the mosaic direct
onto nylon mesh, tilting the gold and silver to get a glittering
effect. Killian Schurmann made the haloes of larger pieces of glass
and gold leaf in his Dublin studio. The mesh was cut into segments
and fixed onto the wall by Walter Bernardin, using a ceramic tile
adhesive with a polymer additive to improve cohesion.
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