One exciting commission I received was to endeavour to make a morse. (A morse is a large clasp or brooch on the front of an ecclesiastical cope.) The one I made was worn by Bishop Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, at a service at St Helens Church Abingdon in May. (Photos to follow.) The morse will be recorded in the church terrier (inventory) as part of the church silver. It is 75mm in diameter.
The design incorporates semi- precious stones whose colours would reflect the theology-in- colour of the three angelic visitors in Rubliev’s icon. The Father is betokened by a large stone of lapis lazuli at the centre of the morse; blue is the colour signaling divinity. The Son is betokened by four garnets roughly in the shape of a cross; red signals the blood of sacrifice. Five peridot stones ‘fly’ out toward the edge; light green signals the Spirit, the ‘giver of life’.
The donor expressed the wish that the morse have Celtic Christian features too. So, the morse is round and slightly bowed to recall the Celtic ‘lorica’ or breastplate. The first line of the lorica prayer ascribed to St Patrick himself, I bind unto myself today the strong name of the Trinity, is engraved on the morse following the spiral in which the stones are set.
The life of the Trinity thus spirals out in the act of creation, and draws creation and humankind back to itself in redemption and sanctification.
My thanks to Revd Dr Charles Miller who commissioned the piece and provided the interprettion of the symbolism above.