Sunday, 7 August 2016
Saint and Skulls
The above image is from Bunbury. Part of a mid-15th-century parclose screen, it shows St Apollonia, an Alexandrian martyr who has become the patroness of dentists and pray-to saint for toothache sufferers. She holds a pair of tongs with a tooth clasped in its pincers, and wears an expression of mild surprise. Her composure is admirable in view of the grisly manner of her martyrdom - which I won't go into here.
Also looking surprisingly cheerful are the death's-heads shown below. This is an image from a notably macabre Baroque monument in Chester's 'second cathedral', St John the Baptist. The monument, to Diana Warburton, was designed in 1693 by Edward Pearce, a pupil of Wren. It depicts a standing skeleton holding up a shroud on which an effusive epitaph is written. This ends
'... Her Religion Was Not A Bare Shew Or Empty Noise But Solid Substantial Even And Uniform Humble & Patient In Her Sickness In The Midst Of Pain Without Murmuring And Despondency Submitted Herself To God And With Great Constancy Of Mind, & Cheerfulness Resigned Her Life To Him In One Continued Act Of Devout Praises & Prayers Of Heavenly Meditations & Discourses Suitable To The Entertainments Of A Departing Soul...'