A new mosaic image has been installed in Westminster Cathedral filling the last empty frame available. Located on the right side of the entrance to the Chapel of Saint Paul, it depicts Saint Augustine of Hippo. This great saint is seen seated beneath tabernacle-work supported on a semi-circular arch, a symbolic representation of the City of God, the subject of Augustine’s most important work of Christian philosophy, De Civitate Dei. On either side are the words ‘Tolle Lege’ (‘Take up and read’), words heard by Augustine as a child’s voice whose source could not be identified. The text which it encouraged him to read was the Epistles of Saint Paul, hence the location of this mosaic at the entrance of this Chapel. The saint’s emblem, a flaming heart pierced by arrows, is combine with a book, as is often found in images of the saint.
This new addition to the Cathedral has been installed opposite a mosaic of Saint Ambrose, another great teacher on Paul’s writings, and completes the decoration of all but one of the Cathedral’s side chapels. The mosaic was designed by the artist, John Maddison. It is his first commission for Westminster Cathedral but John has previously done work for the cathedrals at Ely and St Albans. Gary Bricknell of Mosaic Restoration in Daventry made the mosaic to the artist’s designs using a variety of material including Venetian glass as well as white, green and gold tesserae so that it blends well with the rest of the Chapel’s decoration. The mosaic has been installed in memory of the late Canon Christopher Tuckwell, the former Cathedral Administrator, who died in 2020.
Photos: Mazur/cbcew.org.uk (left) Mosaic of St Augustine of Hippo; (right) St Ambrose