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  • Writer's pictureSophie (Site Admin)

St Augustine and the Seashell

St Augustine is a figure of tremendous importance for the Catholic church and Western Christianity in general. He spent over 30 years working on his treatise De Trinitate, "About the Holy Trinity", attempting to understand the mystery of the Trinity.

In the story of Augustine and the Seashell, Augustine is walking along the seashore when he sees a small boy running back and forth. As he draws closer he can see the boy is filling a shell with seawater and pouring it into a hole in the sand.

On asked what he was doing, the boy says: "I am trying to put the sea into this hole."

“It is impossible," Augustine says to him. "The hole cannot hold all that water."

The boy replies: “It is as impossible as attempting to comprehend the mystery of the Holy Trinity with your small mind.”

When Augustine looks back, the boy has vanished.

There are various interpretations as to the identity of the child and the meaning of the message. However, the sea shell has since become a symbol for St Augustine and the study of theology.

This painting was commissioned by Fr James Cassidy of St Augustine's church in Milton Keynes and has only just been completed; installation will go ahead when COVID-19 restrictions have been eased. Fr Cassidy and Peter have been friends for many years. One of their earliest collaborations was a project to create textile wall hangings for the then-newly built church, not only creating unique works for the space but also bringing the newly formed congregation together.

See more pictures of the painting on the main website here.

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