Corona Cathedral: Masked Man Adorns Restored Medieval Shrine at St Albans

St Albans Cathedral
St Albans Cathedral

A stone figure wearing a mask now adorns the restored medieval shrine at St Albans Cathedral in Hertfordshire, England, commemorating the work done to the shrine during the Chinese coronavirus pandemic.

Restoration on the shrine of St Amphibalus was intended to be unveiled to the public in June of last year. However, the work was delayed during the coronavirus lockdowns. The masked figure will be first open to the public on May 17th, when restrictions are partially lifted.

A spokesman for the cathedral, Sub Dean Abi Thompson, said per the Herts Advertiser: “The newly restored Shrine of St Amphibalus creates a fresh focus for prayer, and is a beautiful way to tell part of the story of this extraordinary place to visitors.

“The masked figure reminds us that the history of St Albans stretches forwards as well as backwards, and pilgrims will be able to mark the latest chapter in the history of this Cathedral alongside Amphibalus and Alban, who were there at the very beginning.”

The restoration project was funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and donations from over 1,000 private donors.

The shrine of St Amphibalus is one of only 13 mediaeval pedestal shrines in the country. It sits next to the shrine of St Alban — Britain’s first saint — in the only cathedral in the country to house two such shrines.

The director of the Skillington Workshop, which headed up the restoration project, said: “The St Amphibalus shrine has been a really special project for our team, and it is a privilege to have been involved.

“The preservation of the surviving 14th-century carvings, the setting-out to allow restoration of missing sections and the interpretation and carving of these missing bits in the original spirit and style all presented unique challenges.”

Last summer, St Albans Cathedral unveiled a modern take on Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper in which Jesus Christ was depicted as a black man by artist Lorna May Wadsworth.

The Dean of St Albans, the Very Reverend Dr Jeffrey John, said at the time: “The church is not in a strong position to preach to others about justice, racial or otherwise, but our faith teaches that we are all made equally in the image of God and that God is a God of justice.

“Black lives matter, so this is why we have turned our Altar of the Persecuted into a space for reflection and prayer with Lorna’s altarpiece at the heart.”

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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