Artwork celebrating the stories of the Saints of the North by local artist, Rita Readman, has been displayed in Durham Cathedral’s Undercroft.
The eight watercolors celebrate well-known and beloved saints in the North East: St Cuthbert, The Venerable Bede, St Oswald, St Hilda, St Margaret, St Aidan and St Wilfrid.
These famous figures have played a vital role in the early history of Christianity in the North of England, dating back to the seventh century AD.
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Rita, who comes from Middlesbroughspent months creating these works of art, incorporating stories, places and objects associated with the saints.
The painting which celebrates the Venerable Bede, whose relics were moved to Durham Cathedral 1,000 years ago this year, shows Bede at a desk, next to a stack of books on the wide range of subjects on which he wrote.
Rita said, “Painting and being creative is what I love the most, and creating these works of art has been an inspiring journey into the lives of these Christians in our history.
“My favorite is Bede, although it took me five weeks of research before deciding on a final design.
“I liked telling each piece with words in uncial script, which I first learned when teaching calligraphy classes. This script is similar to what you see in the Lindisfarne Gospels, which brought me closer to the times these people lived in.”
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Since the death of these saints, pilgrims have visited the region to pay homage to them and to walk in their footsteps. Today, the Paths of the Saints of the North help us to join this ancient tradition of pilgrimages, with a modern touch of walking for leisure and visits.
Proceeds from the sale of the exhibition prints will support the Cathedral’s online prayer community, of which Rita is a dedicated member. Formed in 2020 to create a global community of support for those who regularly join livestreamed worship from Durham Cathedral, the community continues to grow.
Several members recently traveled to the UK to meet in person and see Rita’s exhibit for themselves.
In 2023, the community will host its first international pilgrimage to the cathedral and proceeds from the sale of Rita’s prints and other merchandise, which is currently being developed for the shop, will support this exciting new venture.
Matthew Mills, Development Manager at the Cathedral who worked with Rita on this exhibition, said: “Rita is not only a wonderfully talented artist, she is also a great storyteller.
“This series of paintings makes the stories of the Saints of the North accessible to all. The Cathedral community is full of people who regularly put their gifts to work in the service of our mission, and working with Rita on this exhibit to benefit the Prayer Community was a huge privilege.
View the exhibition in the Undercroft of Durham Cathedral, next to the shop and cafe, through December 2022. Prints of the artwork and other items are in development and will be available soon for sale in the store.
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