On the Solemnity of the Holy Family (Sunday 29 December 2019), Bishop Hugh Gilbert, OSB, dedicated and blessed the new sculpture of St. Magnus of Orkney at St. Mary’s Church, Huntly Street, Inverness. Belladrum artist and sculptor Leonie Gibbs was commissioned to make the piece following the 900th-anniversary celebration of St Magnus’ martyrdom in 2017.
‘The biggest gathering of bishops and archbishops in Orkney’s history’, so BBC Scotland described the celebration to mark the nine hundredth anniversary of St Magnus’ martyrdom in 2017. All the Bishops of Scotland were present. They were joined by bishops from Norway, Denmark and England not least because Magnus was related to the medieval kings of Norway; the Orkney Islands had been Christianized by Norway; and Norway, Denmark and England had all been united under King Canute in the eleventh century. Many hundreds of pilgrims, bishops, priests, deacons, and many lay faithful from everywhere gathered to celebrate St Magnus. The Orcadian poet, George Mackay Brown, described Magnus as ‘the first Orkney man of rank to take the new religion seriously’.
It was in the face of death that Magnus showed the depth of mercy which lay in his heart.
‘Unless a grain of wheat falls on the ground and dies it remains only a single grain; but, if it dies, it yields a rich harvest’. [St John 12.24]
Magnus continues to yield a harvest of peace and mercy nine hundred years after he made the sacrifice of his life.
‘Several times a day,’ wrote George Mackay Brown, the Orcadian poet in the final line of his autobiography, ‘I say, ‘St Magnus, pray for us’.’
May this noble sculpture, by Leonie Gibbs, of St Magnus, encourage us to seek his prayers for peace.
Let us pray :
Most merciful God, it is your wish that we be mindful always of your marvellous works: grant that the things which we behold with our eyes may move our minds to dwell on the signs of your mercy.
Blessed be your name, O Lord; you are the fount and source of every blessing, and you look with delight on the devout practices of the faithful. Draw near, we pray, and Bless this image +, and these your servants, as they use this symbol of the holy Martyr, Magnus. May they be inspired to seek your grace, and strive to be transformed, as he was, into the likeness of Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you forever and ever. Amen