"God is tenderness" a sculpture for Christmas

God is tenderness sculpture

On Sunday a remarkable new sculpture was unveiled at St Asaph Cathedral in North Wales.  Entitled “This is God, God is tenderness”, it is a prayerful reflection on Mary, Joseph and the infant Jesus by the Jesuit artist and sculptor Fr Rory Geoghegan SJ, a member of the St Beuno’s community.

“The piece gradually came to life over many months” says Fr Rory. “Though inspired by the theme of the nativity it is very much more than just something which comes out at Christmas.  Like all my work it is intended as a year-round focus of prayer and meditation.”

Fr Rory working with the plasterThe sculpture, which took about six months to complete began with a doodle as Fr Rory explains:

“Sometimes I get an idea for a piece from something I have seen; or another time it’s an idea I experiment with as a drawing. On this occasion I did a large charcoal doodle, then moved to a more carefully worked drawing on large paper”.

The figures are first formed with hessian netting, chicken wire and foam blacks before being covered with many layers of plaster, and then carved and shaped.  Finally, several layers of paint are added.

“Every stage of this long creative process has involved prayer and reflection” Fr Rory observes.

The title for the piece was inspired by words of Pope Francis when he was still Archbishop of Buenos Aires.  As he took the baby Jesus model out of the Christmas crib he held him out to show the people he said “This is God, God is tenderness”.

The sculpture is positioned within the west porch of the cathedral.  At the conclusion of the Advent Procession ceremony at the cathedral, attended by several members of the St Beuno's Jesuit community, the dean introduced Fr Rory and invited him to unveil the statue. "The dean introduced me to the people and afterwards many of them came up to talk to me and there was great enthusiasm for the peice" commented Fr Rory.  All are invited to come and spend time with this image of the Holy Family during Advent and Christmastide.