In Celebration of
THE CENTENARY OF ST. BRIDE’S CHURCH, BOTHWELL
BAPTISM: SIX PAINTINGS AT ST. BRIDE’S by Richard Whincop
The vestibule at St. Bride’s stands between the Church interior and the outside world, a symbolic threshold between our spiritual and earthly lives. In the paintings we see these two worlds united by the eternal presence of the Holy Spirit. Its light unites the six differently coloured panels, illuminating even the darkest and loneliest corners of the everyday lives of local miners and mill workers. Representing the history and diversity of the people of Bothwell in the past, they look inwards and in the upper panels process towards the central scene of Baptism. They are observed by contemporary figures who are invited to follow their example.
The bringing together of different styles in the pictures suggests continuity between past and present: the main figures in the central panel are based on a Renaissance painting, while in the outer panels there are cubist effects. Similarly the figures in the background represent people from different times and places, giving a wider context to the local scenes, right back to the time of Christ, and emphasising the unity of purpose shared by Christian people throughout history.
The ruins of Bothwell castle can be seen as a symbol of worldly ambition, which we must relinquish, along with our worries, our hurts and our failures, if we are to experience the spiritual cleansing that Baptism represents. Here Jesus’ Baptism symbolises the alignment of His life with God’s greater plan, at the beginning of a ministry that would bring Divine love into the world. Each time we enter the church then, we are invited to follow the pattern first laid down by Christ, which offers us the chance for a renewal of our humanity, and a new beginning.