Monsignor Mark Langham approached us to make an altar, lectern and stoup for the recently refurbished chapel of Fisher House. We designed the new works to harmonise with the existing excellent copy of Cimabue’s large Romanesque cross and the bronze tabernacle. The stone altar and lectern front have a stepped frame to echo the edge of the cross, and the altar’s reliquary has a bronze door and brass frame to match the existing tabernacle. I designed the altar and made the reliquary, and Martin masterfully carved all the stone work. Cabinetmaker Dylan Hartley skilfully made the oak reading desk. The stoup was cast by Madeley Brass Castings with a glass bowl hand made by Nikki Williams.
The altar design is in part inspired by sixth century holy tables seen in Ravenna. I am currently writing an article on the historical development of such altars, which will be available later in March in the Orthodox Arts Journal and in the Articles page of my website. In the book of Revelation we read that John saw “under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne” (Rev. 6:9). Having a reliquary visibly part of the altar reminds us, as St Paul writes, that we are all called to share in the sufferings of Christ, to “fill them up”.