“Transport” by Antony Gormley. Canterbury Cathedral

O God, our strength and our salvation, you called your servant Thomas Becket to be a shepherd of your people and a defender of your church; Keep your household from all evil and raise up faithful pastors and leaders who are wise in the ways of the gospel; through Jesus Christ, the shepherd of our souls, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

— Book of Common Prayer

I wrote the reflection below in August, from the Lambeth conference. Thomas’ feast day was Dec. 29.

A candlelit tour of Canterbury Cathedral

The most arresting sight in Canterbury Cathedral, especially at night, is a sculpture by Antony Gormley called “Transport.” It’s a little over six feet long, in the form of a human body, fashioned from 210 large black nails, some pointing in, others out, evoking the swords used to kill Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket as well as the hair shirt the monks found he was wearing when he died.

It also conveys a sense of betwixt and between. It’s suspended about 12 feet over the site of Becket’s original tomb. He was assassinated four days after Christmas Day in 1170 by knights who had been led to believe that Thomas’ childhood friend Henry II wanted it done. Perhaps another 12 feet above it is Trinity Chapel, where Thomas’ body lay from 1220 until Henry VIII desecrated the tomb and ordered Thomas’ bones destroyed in 1538. The cathedral keeps a candle lit for Thomas on the chapel floor.

Read more here.