The Cathedral Altar
Designed by: Sidney Rofe
Constructed and finished by: Heritage Stone, Tasmania
Donated by: The Porteous Family
Installed in St Mary's Cathedral: 2022
Pray in Beauty
Just beyond the Auspice Maria brass lies the Cathedral’s new stone altar, a gift of the Porteous family in prayerful memory of the Archbishop’s deceased brother Richard. It is crafted from Mount White sandstone from the Archbishop’s home state by Gosford Quarries to a design by architect Sidney Rofe. The altar mensa is supported by four Wombeyan marble columns. The altar was constructed and finished by Tasmanian stone masons, Heritage Stone.
A quatrefoil detail in the altar’s forward face contains a beautiful mosaic designed by artist Sr Agar Loche pddm of the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master whose charism includes the desire to help the people of our times to “pray in beauty”. Consisting of venetian coloured marble tesserae, the composition is rich in meaning evoking the symbols of Christ and His sacrifice.
At its centre is the lamb standing slain upon the throne of the seven sealed book. This is Christ, dead and risen (Rev 5:6). An emerald rainbow circles the Lamb’s throne indicating that His promise of eternal life is guarantee (Rev 4:3). The jewelled cross reminds us of Christ's victory over sin and death. Its green branches bear fruits of pomegranate, referenced in scripture, and which in the Middle Ages became a symbol of the resurrection
In Christian tradition the pomegranate fruit with its red seeds symbolise individual believers gathered into a community of faith; the spiritual seeds sown by Jesus through his words; and the drops of blood shed for humanity by Him on the Cross. The fruit evokes the Eucharist as a symbol of the fullness of our Lord’s suffering and resurrection and reminds us too that from the blood of the martyrs flow the seeds of faith.
A relic of St Therese of Lisieux of the Child Jesus resides within the altar. This treasured relic was obtained from the Lisieux Carmelite Monastery by Mrs Mary Hutchinson (nee O’Rouke) in 1959. A gift of the Hutchinson family in memory of their beloved Mary.