the art of JMH

Jan 29, 2017

The response to my post yesterday marking the death of Christchurch priest Monsignor James Harrington was both overwhelming and moving. Many readers were touched to learn that a most outstanding example of the art of JMH (as he usually signed a piece he had written) remains in the now derelict chapel of the former Holy Name Seminary in Riccarton Rd, Christchurch.

I was delighted to receive an email from Peter Fleming with photos of the windows which he had taken in November 2014, and thanks to Peter’s generosity I am happy to be able to share these with you below.

In one of his Friends of the Cathedral newsletters Jim recalls that he was present in 1963 when the chapel and its windows were consecrated: “It was of course, a proud day for me…”.

Jim continues recalling his last visit to the chapel on 3 February 1997 when “a group of those who had been first day pupils of Holy Name Seminary assembled in Christchurch for a reunion. …We sought permission from the present owners to relive the memories of times past with an inspection of the buildings. Permission was readily given, but to my dismay the chapel was packed with rolled up carpets obviously destined for overseas markets.”

“Thankfully, the stained glass was still intact and as powerful as ever. There along both sides of the nave were the symbols I had developed to depict the virtues of the priest and his office in the Church. And in the sanctuary were the images I had chosen from the antiphon ‘O Sacrum Conviviam‘ by St Thomas Aquinas.”

I know that Jim would be delighted if we took a minute or two now to savour these sacred images, while offering a prayer for the happy repose of his soul.

And perhaps the ultimate tribute to him would be if a way could be found to rescue these windows and see them included in one of our existing or new Christchurch churches.

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Photos: Peter Fleming

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