St Margaret's Church, St Margarets (Portrait)

Recent Photograph of St Margaret's Church (Portrait) (St Margarets)

The story of St Margaret as symbolised in the East Window are described on a board near to this painting as follows:

The East Window
St Margaret, V.M. at Antioch in Pisidia 3rd to 4th Century AD Patroness of this Church and Parish.

The Saint is shown nearing the Holy City - to suggest her life and hereafter - ‘an outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual grace’ - imaging the eternal beauty of Holiness.

She is very young, as at the time of her martyrdom, and of great beauty. Of noble birth, she became a shepherdess when, on the discovery of her faith, she was driven from her father's house. As such she is seen here - led by all the transitory loveliness of the countryside to muse on the Beauty that will last - the Pearl of Great Price after which she is named - “The Name Margaret signifieth ‘Pearl’”, (Golden Legend). On her arm she bears this Church, one of her 261 dedications in Britain.

The Pearl Gate
Whilst a shepherdess of sheep, the Lamb points her to the Pearl she has found - the Gate of Heaven itself, the ‘Pearl of Price’ (M. 13.46) symbolising the Incarnation of the Son of God, the most precious factor in eternity - through which we enter heaven: for it is, as Margaret has discovered, the Gate of Heaven (Rev. 21.21).

The Holy City
‘The City lieth foursquare’ (Rev. 21.16) In the midst of the Tree of Life (Rev. 22.2) - that life indeed which is the goal of the search for the pervasive Beauty of God - Our Lady and the Holy Child being the essence of Life and Light. The City is set amidst hills (Ps 121.1) - with ‘a river of water of life, bright as crystal’ (Rev. 22.1) issuing from the roots of the TGree, flowing through the pearl portals, falling in cascades over ‘all manner of precious stones’ (Rev. 21.19) to the meadows around Margaret's feet (like the streams which thread the hills around her shrine). So, the rills of Grace from the Holy Trinity - ‘streams of living waters, Springing from Eternal Love’ - which ‘make glad the City of God’ (Ps. 46.4) unite earth to heaven - that life to this.

Beneath the figure of the Saint - Invenia Margartia (‘Having found the Pearl’) suggests M. ??, 45, 46, each sincere child of God being ‘a pearl-merchant’ (Margaritarius) seeking goodly pearls, also a pearl in his sight - each Saint ‘having found The Pearl’.
Beneath the Holy City is the divine commentary on M. 13.46 - ‘Each one of the several gates was of one Pearl’ (Rev. 21.21)

In the design, the border of oak leaves surrounding both panels, the meadows and groves of oak and yew and bramble are from the landscape of this shrine of the Lady Margaret. The device on her shield relates to her victory over the evil one; her blue mantle betokens faithfulness even unto death and she wears the martyr's crown of life deck'd with pearls. The wild lilies and roses are symbols of purity, beauty and the peace of heaven. The ‘Pearl’ and ‘Daisy’ are English renderings of her Greek name ‘Margaret’. In the universal language of symbolism, the design shows:-
(1) The Response of the soul to the Call of love. ‘Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past’ - pearl finding and answering to Pearl - ‘my beloved is mine and I am His’ (Song of Songs).
(2) Under the similitude of the Holy City, the beloved disciple figures the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church perfected as ‘the Bride - the Lamb's wife’.

The artist's treatment of the whole suggests the mystic union of that life with this - declared in the words: ‘Behold I make all things new’ for ‘as many as I love’.

(Information provided by Rosemary Lockie)

Image contributed by Rosemary Lockie on 8th August 2007.
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