The Icon of Our Lord, St John Fisher and The Lady Margaret

On Sunday 5 June, the Sunday nearest to the anniversary of the Consecration of the College Chapel, the Bishop of Ely, the Rt Revd Stephen Conway, blessed and dedicated a newly written 'triptych' icon for the College Chapel. The icon was crafted by Roy and Jenny Summerfield of Lincoln.

Interpreting the Icon

The icon is a triptych, which means that it is made up of three panels. It is written in the Eastern Orthodox style. It is painted with a gold-leaf background with warm and mellow colours for the figures. The common denominator of the face has been chosen.

The central panel represents Christ, who gazes forward to make direct eye contact with us.

The left hand panel shows Lady Margaret Beaufort, the Foundress of the College, who gazes directly towards Christ as Saviour.

The right hand panel shows John Fisher, who was Lady Margaret’s Confessor and the first Visitor of the College. John Fisher gazes outwards, but not directly at us. This outward gaze provides engagement and immediacy. Both the eye-levels of Lady Margaret and John Fisher are slightly lower than that of Christ, signifying Christ’s Lordship and divinity. 

Another interesting feature of the icon is that a Common Blue butterfly appears on all three panels. This is a small but vivid creature found in the British Isles. The butterfly is a traditional symbol of the Resurrection (the Title Feast of the College is Easter Day) because it suggests change and renewal.

The overall effect is that through our Saviour Jesus Christ, his followers (Lady Margaret, John Fisher and every one of us) become catalysts for new life and fresh hope, despite the trials and difficulties that we all face.