June 15th 2024

“Vexilla Regis”, David Jones, 1948, Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge.

In 1947 David Jones was admitted to Bowden House at Harrow for psychiatric care.  In front of his window there was huge cedar of Lebanon, with a chestnut tree on one side and a pine tree on the other. Through successive drawings the cedar became at once the tree of life with water flowing near its roots, the cross of Christ, the paschal candle with it five nail-like grains of incense, and the “Vexilla Regis” from the Passiontide hymn “Forward his Royal Banners go”. The tree to the left is that of the good thief and has a pelican nesting in its upper branches, symbolising the Eucharist. The tree to the right bears the Imperial Eagle, but is without branches or roots. It is held in place by wedges. It is the symbol of Roman (and worldly) power.  Behind it are traces of ages long past. The woodland setting recalls the battle of Mametz Wood (1916) which Jones survived, while others died. In today’s parable, the mustard shrub attains the stature and majesty of a cedar of Lebanon in which the birds of the air can nest, reminds me of this wonderful painting.  


Edinburgh Catholic Chaplaincy

The Catholic Chaplaincy serves the students and staff of the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier University and Queen Margaret University.

The Catholic Chaplaincy is also a parish of the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh (the Parish of St Albert the Great) and all Catholic students and staff are automatically members of this parish.

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