Catholic Church Kilsyth

Icon of St Patrick

A Gift to the Parish of Kilsyth from St Maurices High School

When head teacher of St Maurice's High School, Mrs Patricia Alexander found out in Aug 2013 that St Patrick's Kilsyth was approaching the 150th Anniversary of the foundation of the Parish, she immediately enquired as to how the school and it's pupils could meaningfully engage with this historic local milestone. A number of different projects were kicked off and the Art Department under Mr Robert Donnelly enthusiastically volunteered that as a gift from the whole school community, he could commission from one of his certificate Art Classes to design and produce an 8ft high and 4ft wide mosaic. The Mosaic is an Icon of St Patrick in the garb of a Bishop and holding his legendary shamrock - a tool he used to explain the Christian Doctrine of the Trinity God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit - three persons in one.

Throughout the year the design and build progressed and appropriately the icon was delivered to St Patrick's Church in the afternoon of 17th March 2014 - exactly one year before the 150th Anniversary, and as a first sign that a year of preparation for the anniversary was under way. It was mounted on the west wall of the Blessed Sacrament Chapel in the lower nexus of the church and mounted in place by Mr Joe Livingston and Mr Francis Connor.

As soon as the parishioners heard about the icon a steady stream of visitors could be seen coming to admire this new artwork - which met with universal approval from the most critical of audiences. The local press at Cumbernauld News found out and soon the story was a matter of public record. The august body of the Heritage and Arts Commission of the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh too were to feature a story in their annual newsletter to all the Parishes of the Archdiocese, in June 2014.

A commemorative plaque has been ordered by the Parish to permanently record the gratitude of the people of Kilsyth for this magnificent art work and His Grace Archbishop Leo Cushley has graciously agreed to return to Kilsyth on the 17th March 2015 when the pupils of St Maurice’s will be invited back to witness him blessing both the Icon and it's creators, the S3 Art Class of 2013-14, who will be our guests for the evening celebrations of the 150th anniversary.

Photos of the Icon together with it's creators - S3 Art Class of 2013/14
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The pupils of St Maurices S3 Art Class 2013-14 with the Icon of St Patrick
Rev Fr. James Tracey (right rear) and the Pupils of St Maurice's HS S3 Art Class 2013/14 and their Head Teacher Mrs Patricia Alexander (left rear)
The pupils responsible for the creation of the Icon are: Lisa Graham, Gemma Green, Eve Murray, Calum Johnstone, Craig Barry, Adam Carlyle, Aidan Corr, Kerry Bolan, Abby Davidson, Morgan Crook, Meghan Kelly, Ciara Kelly, Megan Doolan, Megan Kirkpatrick, Stuart Cooper, Hafsah Rasaq, Courtney Macloed, Caitlyn Armstrong, Grace Lauder and Molly Hunter.

Story in the local Press

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Cumbernauld News and Kilsyth Chronicle Article
Thanks to the Cumbernauld News and Kilsyth Chronicle


Pamphlet produced by the school showing how the Icon was made as part of their coursework
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A hand drawn sketch is scaled up by projecting onto the wooden base
The legend is written on the icon
A hand drawn sketch of the icon is transferred to a wooden base
The legend of the icon is created
Each piece of mosaic is individually placed
The snake is crushed beneath the feet of St Patrick
Each piece of glass is indivudually placed and glued
The snake crushed beneath St Patrick's feet is an important detail
The layout of the icon

each student has a part to play

The layout of the Icon
Each student has a part to play
The mosaic under construction
The Icon of St Patrick starts to take shape
Pamphlet outside
Pamphlet inside
Pamphlet published by the class as part of the coursework.
Inside contents of the pamphlet.

The Heritage and Art Commission of the Archdiocese Recognise the Icon
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An Article by Owen Gormley - The Secretary of The Heritage and Arts Commission of the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh for their Newsletter of July 2014

The Heritage and Arts Commission is always interested to hear of new additions to the historic patrimony of St Andrews and Edinburgh Archdiocese. It was delighted, therefore, to be informed by Mr.John Trower and Mr. Jack McGovern, members of the Heritage, History and Arts Team of St Patrick’s, Kilsyth, of the completion of a project to honour the parish Patron and enrich the art, architecture and heritage of St Patrick’s parish and its church as it prepares for the 150th anniversary of its foundation on the 17th March 2015.

School pupils at the local Catholic High School, St Maurice’s,Cumbernauld, have contributed a mosaic portrait of St Patrick which has been incorporated into this historic local church. This parish church already has protected status as a Grade A listed building having been designed by the renowned architectural firm of Gillespie,Kidd and Coia. The contents of such buildings are included in this Grade A listing, and this protection also extends to additions to those contents - affording some recognition of their quality.

The work of the pupils now has such a place. In the words of the school’s Principal Teacher of Art, Mr. Bobby Donnelly, “It is a very special building and everyone involved with the project is delighted the school has made a permanent contribution at such a special time in its history”. (Kilsyth Chronicle and Cumbernauld News)

The artists were Third Year art pupils (2013-2014) of St Maurice’s High School, under the direction of the Principal Teacher of Art. Although geographically in the Archdiocese of Glasgow, St Maurice’s High School serves the St Andrews and Edinburgh Archdiocese parish of Kilsyth. The gifting of this striking mosaic image happily coincided with the renewal of the original Mortuary/Blessed Sacrament chapel in the church, and so has been given a prominent position in it alongside the rehabilitation of the old limestone block altar there and the repositioning of the crucifix of Christ Triumphant over death, which was a gift to the new church in 1965 from the Kearney New Jersey Celtic Supporters Club.

The opening and blessing of a new parish hall on 6th November 2013 by Archbishop Leo Cushley had freed this space to be once again used for sacred activities. The presentation of the Icon was made by Mrs. Patricia Alexander, Head Teacher of St Maurice’s, and it has been met with universal approval by those who have seen it thus far: “It could well be a fixture admired and revered by parishioners and visitors in another 150 years’ time”. (Kilsyth Chronicle and Cumbernauld News)

The Icon depicts the Saint dressed as a Bishop, wearing a mitre and, with his Crozier in his left hand, holding aloft the shamrock in his right, his legendary teaching aid to illuminate the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. The pupils had put much effort into gathering together the many-coloured pieces for the mosaic including some which are also light reflective mirrors which show the full effect of the work when they catch the light.

The principal designer of the church, Isi Metstein, would have appreciated this touch. He had attributed his inspiration for the design of the west wall at St Patrick’s to the way the light fell inside the Library of Charles Rennie Macintosh’s Glasgow School of Art, now sadly destroyed by the recent fire. In an obituary of Isi Metstein, Gavin Stamp wrote: “Metstein… had a strong sense of the numinous, achieved in his churches by the dramatichandling of light in dark interiors.” [Guardian obituary of Isi Metstein, 22 January 2012 at]

Scotland’s often cloudy skies would have provided many gloomy days for him to achieve such spiritual effects. The west wall of St Patrick’s church is made of glass and catches light all day long. However the light which will reach St Patrick in the refurbished chapel comes from windows under cast concrete arches which support the floor above – an architectural feature which St Patrick’s Kilsyth shares with St Peter’s Seminary in Cardross – a design which was said to be the influencing factor for the award of the RIBA Gold Medal for outstanding quality and achievement in architecture in 1969 being awarded to Gillespie Kidd and Coia and a site which is now listed in The World’s Top 100 most Endangered Architectural Heritage Sites. These arches are also a feature which acknowledge Metstein’s other great influence, Le Courbusier, the French architect who used similar cast concrete features in the Chapel of Notre Dame Du Haut at Ronchamp and the Seminary he designed at La Tourette.

The light which will shine down on St Patrick can therefor trace its source through the modern history of art in Macintosh and architecture in Le Corbusier. It would be nice if the sun were to shine brightly on 17th of March 2015 when Archbishop Cushley has graciously agreed to join in celebration with the parish on its special day. He will, perhaps, also bless the efforts of the St Maurice’s pupils and their shining Icon of St Patrick!

The final result - the Chapel is re-opened for prayer

Alar of Respose on Holy Thursday Night 2014

Icon of St Patrick in situ
The Icon  in situ under the cast concrete arches
The parish of St Patrick's at prayer in the restored chapel
The detail of the Icon
Commemorative plaque

God BlessYou!