Three thousand images blessed by the Pope will be distributed to parishes in England and Wales as a legacy of the papal visit, the bishops’ conference has announced.
The images, copies of the pre-Raphaelite William Holman Hunt’s Light of the World, will be distributed to parishes in England and Wales, with 145 being sent to prison chaplains. The framed images are meant for use in prayer groups, as well as schools, prisons, and hospitals, and can be obtained through Catholic parishes.
Also being distributed to parishes are a similar number of candles, also blessed by the Holy Father. The images and candles were blessed during the prayer vigil at Hyde Park on Saturday.
Fr Andrew Headon, chairman of the Hyde Park Steering Committee, said that the painting “has been described as a ‘sermon in a frame’ and reminds everyone that Jesus knocks at the door of our hearts.”
Fr Headon said: “The painting invites us to reflect that Jesus’s heart cries out for our hearts to be one with his. He is standing at the door and knocking, offering love and peace”. The pictures, he said, “also remind everyone that we are invited into a personal relationship with God, in turn carrying and sharing the joy and the love of Christ as home missionaries”.
The original painting was completed in 1854, and now hangs in a side room off the chapel at Keble College, Oxford. Toward the end of his life, Hunt painted a larger copy, which now hangs in St Paul’s Cathedral.
The painting is said to have been inspired by a quotation from the third chapter of the Book of Revelation: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”