Posts Tagged ‘Paisely Abbey’

On the east wall there is a remarkable sculptured frieze, 1ft. 8in broad.  There is a gap in the stones towards the north side.  The stones probably formed part of an altar reredos in some other part of the Abbey before the fire of 1408.  The work would seem to be of a fifteenth century date.

It used to be thought that they were of much earlier date, and that the carving represented the seven sacraments of the Roman Church. ‘The reredos contains a range of sculptured images – those at the south side are three Priests standing and one sitting, and others in the attitudes of confessing, and others kneeling; next another Altar; next, a Priest standing administering Extreme Unction to a sick man; next are three Priests at Mass – Celebrant, Gospeller, and Epistler.  In the centre of this Reredos or Altar-piece, there is a small vacancy, and a little North of this is the Holy Babe, with His Blessed Virgin Mother, Joseph, and the rest of the Holy Family, a man reading a book, and another holding by the Horns of the Altar. Some opine that the Seven Sacraments or the Seven Corporal Works of Mercy are hereon depicted. ‘ Gordon’s Monasticon, p. 563

The obvious subject is, however, Incidents in the Legendary Life of St. Mirin. (Lees, P.211) These as given in the Aberdeen Breviary, can be readily identified in the ten sculptured panels.  Proceeding from left to right we see –

  1. Mirin’s mother bringing him when a child to St. Congal at Bangor.
  2. Conga vests Mirin in his monastic dress.
  3. Mirin takes up his work as Prior.
  4. Mirin, having gone on a mission to the Irish King, is driven away by a servant from the palace door.
  5. The King is punished by having to suffer the pains of labour instead of the Queen.
  6. The Queen in bed and a nurse holding the infant.
  7. The King begs Mirin’s forgiveness.
  8. The reconcilement of the King and Queen with Mirin.
  9. Mirin in his cell, illuminated with heavenly light, is seen by a brother monk through the key-hole of the door.
  10. Mirin restores a dead man to life.

From Paisley Abbey: It’s History, Architecture & Art by The Rev. A.R. Howell, M.A.




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Inspired by a scene from the Te Deum window of Paisley Abbey

Catherine's Wheel Photograph by Rashelle Reid

Catherine’s Wheel Photograph by Rashelle Reid

Like much of our earlier history, the information available on St.Catherine is limited and within the accounts that do exist there’s a discrepancy in the story surrounding her escape from the wheel of death.  Was it indeed a bolt of lighting, what some might call a Godly intervention that saved her? Or was she saved by another form of heavenly intervention in the form of Angels?  Are the angels referred to really from heaven or are they, as some modern historians claim, of a more Earthly descent and simply the victims of a spelling mistake that has passed down throughout the ages?

It is with caution (and often horror) I read the pages of history, always aware that the agenda of the author/historian and the story they wish to portray will take precedence over historical accuracy. On visiting a few sites to discover Catherine’s story I’ve already witnessed a major difference in the account of the story in relation to Catherine’s escape from the wheel of death. Whatever the finer details of this woman’s life, one thing’s for sure she’s been remembered with a bang throughout history. As you enjoy the fireworks next week please take a little moment to ponder the stories behind the celebrations particularly the conspiracy theory we celebrate ever year, The Gunpowder Plot.   As many across the UK prepare to take part in a Million Mask March on the 5th November led by the modern day, state sanctioned Messiah, I find myself wondering if this will be the perfect mix for the state to show us just how dangerous their latest target’s are? Remember, remember this 5th November, that nothing is quite what it seems.

“The saint steadfastly confessed Christ and she herself approached the wheels; but an angel smashed the instruments of execution, which broke up into pieces with many pagans passing nearby. Having beheld this wonder, the empress Augusta and the imperial courtier Porphyry with 200 soldiers confessed their faith in Christ in front of everyone, and they were beheaded. Maximinus again tried to entice the holy martyr, proposing marriage to her, and again he received a refusal. St. Catherine firmly confessed her fidelity to the heavenly Bridegroom, Christ, and with a prayer to him she herself put her head on the block under the sword of the executioner. The relics of St. Catherine were taken by the angels to Mount Sinai. In the 9th or 10th century, through a revelation, the incorrupt of the holy martyress were found and transferred with honour to the church of Sinai monastery, built by the holy emperor Justinian the Great in the 6th century. To this day, the Great Martyr’s venerable head and left hand are presented for veneration by the Fathers of the Holy Monastery for the veneration of the faithful.”


“Little is definitely known of the girl or woman whose name is associated with this pyrotechnic device, beyond the tradition that she lived during the reign of Maximinus in the fourth century.According to legend, she was born of a noble family in Alexandria and while a young girl embraced Christianity, becoming an ardent evangelist.

The emperor, antagonistic to the spread of this belief, it is said, determined that her powers of eloquence be silenced; but those charged with showing her the falsity of her beliefs were themselves converted to her faith.This so aroused the emperor that he condemned them to be burned at the stake and Catherine to be torn to pieces upon an especially devised wheel, a wheel armed along its rim with curved spikes which, as the wheel revolved, would tear the flesh from its victim.

But, so the legend runs, as the torture was about to begin, a bolt of lightning shattered the wheel and severed the cords by which the maiden was bound. The miracle, however, failed to sway the emperor from his course, for he then had her scourged and beheaded.

She became one of the earliest of the Roman Catholic saints; numerous chapels have been dedicated to her, and statues that honor her usually show also a representation of the wheel as her symbol.

This symbol, with curved spikes on the rim, appeared often in medieval heraldry; and the name “Catherine wheel” is also sometimes applied, in church architecture, to the wheel or rose window.”


(Unfortunately there’s no source information on this page as to where the information displayed came from.)

Further reading on The Gunpowder Plot


Wishing you a safe and happy bonfires night when it comes round again,


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