Daughter of Light

Today is Ash Wednesday which is a time when Catholics remember that they were made from dust and that death will return them to this state. It is a call for conversion in the knowledge that all good things come from God. It’s been special for me too, as today marks the end of my novena to St Philomena. For those who don’t know this saint she was a greek princess martyred by Diocletian for refusing to give up her purity in the 3rd century. I frequently speak to her and ask her help in all the difficulties of life and to do so, you become her “client.” I would recommend this Filia-Lumena (Daughter of Light) to anyone and everyone! Most of my life my mind has been full of all sorts of bright and colourful ideas! It’s often a question of just focusing on one and working with it and seeing where it ends up. During the novena I pondered about how architecture leads humans to conversion by opening them up to the transcendent beauty and wonder of God. I remembered how when I was at Hearts Aflame, a Catholic camp in New Zealand in 2015, I first heard about the miracles of St Philomena and especially her connection to bringing the Catholic faith to Aotearoa. It was through a devotee to St Philomena, who raised funds for the Oceania mission in France, that the first missionaries to New Zealand arrived on her own Feast Day! This connection has often left me wondering how the significance of St Philomena to New Zealand could better be preserved in the Catholic memory and identity of the nation. The Persian mystic Rumi said “Start a huge, foolish project, like Noah…it makes absolutely no difference what people think of you,” so here’s my proposal… A basilica to St Philomena in New Zealand! The design to focus particularly on the transcendent in its height (working with earthquake restrictions) but also in it’s magnificence and intricate beauty! This kind of project could attract in the long term a Catholic university, something the country is also lacking, a good central library for catholic thought as well as a theatre. Ideally it would also be surrounded by beautiful land which could be preserved with a certain monastic stillness. St Philomena pray for New Zealand. May your heavenly intercession lead the nation back to “Preaching love and truth to man, Working out Thy glorious plan”…God defend New Zealand. So here’s a preliminary sketch made for day 9…

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