Friday, June 22, 2007


I am a little late with this posting, but June 10 -the Monday before last - was St Barnabas' Day.

We were reminded of it when our friend "Beef"(John) Buffett, who recently visited the Solomons to assist with the clean-up after the Tsunami, said he had an email from one of the priests in St Barnabas' Cathedral in Honiara, and he had mentioned that they would be celebrating St Barnabas Day.

This is a somewhat significant day to us, because it is the name of the old Melanesian Mission Patteson Memorial Chapel here on Norfolk Island, and it is where Bernie and I worship each Sunday morning.

When the Melanesian Mission was establishing its headquarters here on Norfolk Island in the 1860's, they were granted 1000 acres of land. The site for their main buildings and school was chosen on St Barnabas' Day, and the name stuck. When the Memorial Chapel was being built in the late 1870's,(in memory of the martyred Bishop John Coleridge Patteson) it was intended to change the name, but both scholars and staff had become fond of the old name and the association with Saint Barnabas the Apostle, and so it was retained. And when the headquarters of the Melanesian Mission, which eventually became the Diocese of Melanesia, moved to the Solomons, they also kept the name for their main centre of worship.
St Barnabas' Chapel on Norfolk Island

Saint Barnabas embraced the Christian faith before St Paul, and was responsible in some ways for helping Paul to be accepted into the body of believers after his conversion. He was Paul's companion on his first two missionary journeys. His name means "Son of Encouragement", and so he was, as he travelled and brought encouragement and support to fledgling Christian communities. Church and historic tradition has it that he was eventually martyred for his faith, although the Bible does not tell us of this. The last we hear of him in the Book of Acts is when he had a disagreement with Paul over their young companion John Mark. John Mark had been travelling with the pair on their journeys, but had not "stayed the course." Barnabas was keen to give the young fellow a second chance, but Paul refused, and so they parted company.

The point of all this story is to say that I chose- with a degree of serendipity - St Barnabas' Day to work on this month's pages for the Round Robin Fabric book group I am participating in. This month, I am contributing to the book for Diana Bahler, who lives in Wellington, New Zealand. Diana's theme is "Saints." I decided to feature the two saints who are significant to Norfolk Island. Saint Barnabas, and also Saint Phillip Howard, after whom our local Roman Catholic church is named. Here are the pages for Saint Barnabas. The second one shows his missionary journeys, and the chain symbolises his eventual martyrdom. The lace dates back to the 1930's and was a gift from a friend.
Saint Philip Howard (shown below)was a Duke of Norfolk, and died in the Tower of London for his allegiance to the Church of Rome during the Reformation. Our local Roman Catholic church used to be known as "Sacred Heart" but a few years ago, the late Duke of Norfolk himself, Miles Howard, a descendant of Philip Howard, came to Norfolk Island for the occasion of the name change. I actually met the Duke on two or three occasions, and even sat with him at dinner one evening! Bernie and I have an amusing memory of when we were first introduced to this fine gentleman. He asked Bernie if he was descended from Fletcher Christian, and when Bernie said yes, the Duke reached out his arms, grasped Bernie's shoulders, and said: "Oh, let me touch you! You are famous!"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your pages are stunning - they look so old and antique ...

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