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  • Writer's pictureSophie (Site Admin)

Martyrs and holy people

Peter's Christmas Triptych is an incredible painting full of imagery and detail.

Around the altar you can see a gathering of small figures. These individuals represent martyrs and other holy people.

Ignacio Ellachuría was a priest and theologian who was murdered by the San Salvadorian army; he is depicted to the left of the altar, in yellow robes, holding a machine gun on his shoulder.

Beside him, with a beard, is Father Woodard. Father Woodard was the Catholic priest at Peter's church, our Lady of Peace, for many years. He was instrumental in the construction of the first shared church, St Andrew's in Cippenham, a space in which Anglicans and Catholics can share services. You can read more here.

Saint Stephen is on the path to the left of the altar, holding stones - he was stoned to death for denouncing the Jewish authorities. He also features on the inner right-hand panel of the painting.

Behind him you can see Margaret Clitherow with the mill stone; she was was pressed to death for refusing to respond to the charge of harbouring Catholic priests.

Behind her, with a machine gun, is Janani Luwum, the Ugandan archbishop who died while under arrest of Idi Amin.

Edmund Campion has the triangular framed gallows. He was hung, drawn and quartered for conducting an underground Catholic ministry during the Anglian reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

The guillotine is in the hands of one of the Lübeck martyrs - Johannes Preassek, Eduard Muller, Hermann Lange and Karl Friedrich Stellbrink - who were executed for treason against the Nazis.

Top of the left-hand group is St Catherine, who rebuked Emperor Maxentius for his cruelty to Christians, and was put to death on a spiked wheel.

To the right of the altar, above the skirt of the Bride, you can see St Peter who was crucified upside down.

To his right is St Ignatius, who referred to his Roman captors as "leopards" and may have died in the Collusseum. St Ignatius is the focus of another painting, here.

Further down you can also see St Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals and nature, with birds on his shoulders.

Another machine gun is in the hands of Franz Jaeggerstaetter, an Austrian conscientious objector during the Second World War. There is also a painting about him which you can view here.

This painting is part of a triptych, a painting on three folding panels. You can see the whole painting and read about all the sections here.

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