As we begin the great Triduum, or Holy Three days, I offer three images from Hereford Cathedral, which bring together many of the themes which we hold together at this time.

First, from the Lady Chapel, a beautiful stained glass window from the 14th century. The glass was originally in St Peter’s church, Hereford but for some reason was moved to the cathedral during the 1840s.

It shows Christ carrying his cross, surrounded by Mary and the disciples. We see the sadness and pain in their faces, but we also note that the Cross is green in colour. The unknown maker of the glass is trying to show us, in pictorial form, that the Cross, although an instrument of death and suffering is, strangely, life-giving. By means of the Cross, Jesus confronts death and overcomes it and offers that eternal life to each of us.

Second, an image of the cathedral’s Easter Garden, set up in the south transept. It’s life-sized, with the stone rolled away from the entrance to the tomb, and lilies cascading down the steps leading to it. For me, it’s an especailly important image as the placing of the tomb brings together so many elements of the Christian story. Earlier in the year, this very site was where the Christmas Crib was placed: now it is the place of the Easter Garden, and for most of the year it is an altar, where, if not now then certainly in the past, the Eucharist was celebrated. These three things – birth, death and resurrection, and Holy Communion are inextricably bound up in the life of the Church. The Son of God, born as a baby in Bethlehem, grew up to be the Jesus of healing, and teaching and the Jesus who died on the Cross and rose for us. Christians believe that this same Jesus comes to us under the forms of bread and wine in Holy Communion.

Our Easter Garden brings together the great mysteries of our faith.

And third, our new Ascension window and memorial commemorating our friends in the Special Air Service. The memorial was opened last Saturday and already, many are coming to the cathedral to view it. Visitors and pilgrims will create their own impressions and interpretations but for me, Ascension has a very special Easter message.

  • The curved stone memorial, for me, reflects the tomb, yet from it comes reflected light – a message of hope.
  • The window above, moving from dark and sombre blues to vivid golds and white is a powerful message of the God who will not be defeated by sadness and death but who, in Jesus Christ overcomes them.
  • The message ‘Always a little further’, carved deep into the black Tournai marble below, reminds us that every pilgrim who comes to this place is invited on a journey to explore and discover the Christian faith at whatever level seems right and helpful. Hereford Cathedral hopes to be ‘An inclusive church welcoming everyone’, and we pray that glimpses of beauty, such as that found in Ascension, will enable many to make that inner journey and so to find now hope and beauty in their lives.

May God bless you all this Eastertide.

Michael Tavinor