Saturday, February 19, 2011

St Mary's Church - Port Stanley, Falkland Islands

A bit smaller but much brighter and certainly more festive than the dark Anglican Church just down Ross Road, the Catholic Church of St Mary’s stands cute and enticing in the gale. The church is white and so small that the scaffolding looks more like a dental brace than a building being maintained.  Two guys in dappled aprons dab the façade in white but stop to submit explanatory howls my way. Their voices get caught in the wind and taken over the Atlantic, where they tell of the unusual persistence of painters on the Falklands. St. Mary’s Church, it so appears, was created in England in the late 18-hundreds and sent over to the Falklands as a kit. It was put here in 1899, and has stood here unaltered save for a streak of paint every now and then.

On a windy day such as today, the church shudders and creaks. Inside we feel welcomed by the cozy interior; all light brown woods and reds from the carpet and stained glass windows. At the altar is a rather small INRI, but it has an unusual expression. I stand arrested initially trying to figure out whether he has his eyes open or not, but find myself caught in a pleasant review of the familiar Bible story. After a good three decades of studying Scriptures, I still have no idea what the crucifixion means. I’m sure I know more about it than most people, but I’m also one of the very few who recognize that the crucifixion of Christ is about a whole lot more than just a theocidal execution (which is a complete mystery in its own right).

To the left stands a beautiful Madonna with child. Their faces are much more classical than that of the INRI; pious and serene, hardly human but still so royal and divine.

Quickened I leave the church and head back to my ship. From the Falklands we’re heading straight south onto Antarctica. I’ve been there once before and I’ve been looking forward to going back ever since. It’s high summer on the southern hemisphere. Let’s go look for some ice bergs!

St Mary's Church - Port Stanley, Falkland Islands

Interior of St Mary's Church - Port Stanley, Falkland Islands
The Last Supper over the main entrance
An unusual INRI

The INRI of St Mary's Church - detail

Madonna with Child
Madonna with Child - detail

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