A mosaic that shows St Jerome with a laptop has been unveiled in St John´s Catholic Cathedral in Portsmouth.
In the artwork, the books of St Jerome blend into a computer keyboard. The combination of old and new seeks to represent the ways in which Christians are engaging with the Bible today, through both technology and printed text.
The saint was the first to translate the Bible from Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek into Latin and his translation went on to become the standard biblical text of the Roman Catholic Church. The artwork commemorates 1,600 years since his death.
Portsmouth-based artist Pete Codling is behind the piece. He told Premier that he wanted to remind people that Bible reading, learning and studying also now take place through the internet.
“Old and new is how we learn to educate. [My aim is] to bring symbolism into an artwork that opens discussion and gives you something to talk about...to discuss both the history of the Bible but also what the future is going to bring.”
The piece also contains another contemporary reference: three-year-old Syrian refugee Alan Kurdi, who drowned in 2015 while his family was attempting to leave Turkey.
Codling said he wants viewers to connect the image of the boy with the perilous travels that the saints made through the Mediterranean.
“This young boy's body on the beach and the shape and profile became such an iconic image that I've translated it into this ancient material to give him a timeless place. The idea was to put him amongst all of the household names to represent the future of the unknown saints.”
Biblical figures including Jesus, Mary and Matthew are also represented. The mosaic is over two meters tall and is formed of ten panels created from thousands of pieces of coloured glass.
The artwork is part of an initiative of the Catholic Church of England and Wales and the Bible Society that encourages Catholics to engage more with the Bible.