New St Christopher’s statue – a blessing for generations to come
Described as a ‘historical moment,’ the imposing larger-than-life bronze statue of St Christopher was blessed last Sunday by Archbishop Christopher Prowse.
The event’s unique nature was not lost on those who attended – an Archbishop named Christopher blessing the St Christopher statue outside a Cathedral named after St Christopher.
Placed between St Christopher’s Catholic Cathedral and Canberra Avenue, the long-awaited sculpture was commissioned by the Archdiocese in 2018, making it one of the few public religious art pieces in Canberra.
Archbishop Prowse expressed his delight in the sculpture, saying that the artist had captured “the act of tenderness and love in the gaze between the Child Jesus and St Christopher, which displays a remarkable skill given the medium.”
Commissioned “not just to beautify the Cathedral’s surrounds”, Archbishop Prowse was keen to communicate his desire for all Canberrans and travellers to the nation’s capital to view the sculpture as theirs.
“I hope that travellers to this city and those who live in Canberra will view this statue as a blessing for generations to come. Over time I can see the great foot of St Christopher being worn down as people pray for protection before embarking on their travel.”
Award-winning Master Sculptor Alan Somerville “was very happy” with the finished piece saying that he “never really knows how a statue will turn out.”
“As a figurative sculptor, movement, energy and emotion are very important,” Mr Somerville said.
“I strive for these qualities in my work and value them above absolute anatomical correctness. Good art and sculpture should test the viewer’s imagination.”
Bishop Bartholomew of Charioupolis, the Archiepiscopal Vicar of Canberra’s Greek Orthodox Church, was invited to attend the 11 am Mass and to join Archbishop Prowse for the statue blessing. Bishop Bartholomew spoke about the saint from an Orthodox perspective.
St. Christopher is one of the most popular saints, and his intercession is petitioned by travellers, soldiers, sailors, those caught in storms, and transportation workers. He no longer has a universally celebrated feast day in the Roman Calendar but is remembered by many local churches.
Alan Somerville has created several sculptures in Canberra, including the First World War Digger on Anzac Bridge and pieces currently housed in the Australian War Memorial.
The St Christopher sculpture’s height is 3.2 metres and weighs just under a ton.