The Northern Saints – Durham Cathedral

28th July 2022

Artworks celebrating the stories of the saints who brought Christianity to Northern England have gone on display in Durham Cathedral to raise funds for the Cathedral’s Community of Prayer.

Bringing the northern saints alive: new exhibition opens in Durham Cathedral

The eight watercolours celebrate the lives of the Northern Saints: St Cuthbert, The Venerable Bede, St Oswald, St Hilda, St Margaret, St Aidan and St Wilfrid.

Artist, Rita Readman, from Middlesbrough, has incorporated stories, places and objects associated with each of the saints into the artwork.

She said:

“Painting and being creative is what I love most, and creating these artworks was a journey into the inspiring lives of these Christians from our history.

“My personal favourite is Bede, although it took me five weeks of research before I settled on a final design. I enjoyed narrating each piece with words in uncial script, which I first learned when I taught calligraphy classes.

“This handwriting is similar to what you see in the Lindisfarne Gospels, which brought me closer to the time in which these people lived.”

Durham and the North East is a magnet for pilgrims who have been visiting the region to pay their respects and walk in the footsteps of the saints for centuries.

Today the Northern Saints Trails, established just before lockdown and launched last year, offer visitors and modern-day pilgrims the chance to join this ancient tradition of pilgrimage with a modern twist of walking for leisure and sightseeing.

Proceeds raised from the sale of prints from the exhibition will support the cathedral’s online Community of Prayer which was established during the pandemic in 2020 to create a supportive worldwide community for those who regularly join Durham Cathedral’s live-streamed worship – and the community is still growing.

Several members have visited the UK recently to meet up in person and see Rita’s exhibition for themselves.

In 2023, the Community will host its first international pilgrimage to Durham cathedral and proceeds from the sale of Rita’s prints and other merchandise, which is currently being developed for the shop, will support this new venture.

Matthew Mills, Head of Development said:

“Rita is not only a wonderfully talented artist, she is also a great story-teller.

“This series of paintings makes the stories of the Northern saints accessible to everyone.

“The cathedral community is full of people who regularly place their gifts at the service of our mission, and working with Rita on this exhibition in aid of the Community of Prayer has been a tremendous privilege.”

The exhibition in the Undercroft at Durham Cathedral is on until December 2022.

Prints of the artworks and other items are being developed and will shortly be available to buy in the shop.

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