Centennial Lecture Series: The Reredos

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Thursday, April 3, 2014
6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Saint Thomas Church

Part of the the Great Reredos of Saint Thomas Church.

Update: Scroll to the bottom of this page to listen to an audio webcast of this lecture.

This event is part of the year-long celebration for the centennial of our church building. The lecture begins following the said Mass which follows Choral Evensong.

Saint Thomas Church, completed in 1913, was designed by Ralph Adams Cram and Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue. In 1915 Goodhue predicted that his design for the Great Reredos behind the High Altar would be “splendiferous.” Nearly all of its 76 free-standing figures were designed and personally modeled by the architectural sculptor Lee Lawrie between 1917 and 1919. Lawrie later designed the Atlas statue across from St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

The central theme of the reredos is the Risen Christ. The rector Ernest Stires, who said he knew St. Paul intimately, approved or made changes in the original design. We see, directly below the empty cross, that St. Thomas falls to his knees when he recognizes the Risen Christ, but amazingly, this is not in the Bible (St. John: 20). Lawrie surreptitiously modeled the face of St. Thomas on a living person whom the congregation knew well.

The Great Reredos is the largest stone reredos in the world and is one of five, not four, reredoses in the church. Some of the secrets and little known facts about the Great Reredos will be revealed by Lee Whitley, tour guide coordinator of Saint Thomas Church, in his April 3 centennial lecture.

No reservations are needed and all are invited to this free event.

Douglas Robbe


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