The 2020 year commenced with fire and rain.
During January many parts of Australia were still battling bushfires and by February over 17 million hectares of land had been burnt and 34 lives lost. Then came the rains.
On Sunday, 19 January many parts of Melbourne were pelted with hailstones the size of golf balls. The thunderstorms moved quickly across the state bringing strong winds and very heavy rain leaving much damage and destruction in its path.
Our Lady of Victories suffered damage from this storm to some of the stained-glass windows along the north side of the building. Along the north wall of the Nave there are four large stained-glass works depicting the early life of Mary. These windows were created by John Hardiman of Hardiman & Co, Birmingham in 1922. Two of these panels were damaged by the storm.
In the north transept, there is a beautiful stained-glass semi-circular window depicting the Seven Sorrows of Mary with the central window depicting the Pieta. This magnificent window was also created by John Hardiman of Hardiman & Co in 1923. Some of the panels of this window were also damaged by hailstones.
At first glance the damage was difficult to see, only when the sun shone through the beautiful glass did small round rays of light play through revealing the damage.
The repair work was not an easy task and restoration expert Wes Vine was called upon to attend to the repairs.
It has been a long journey, lots of scaffolding and skillful craftsmanship and now finally the colours of the glass are shining through once again. On reflection of the work, Wes commented “After working on the Our Lady of Victories as an apprentice 18 years ago, it was great to come back and work on the Basilica for my own business”.
All of our churches have magnificent stained-glass work. When we return to our churches, take a moment to look up and admire the beautiful stained glass work, the skillful craftsmanship and the artistry involved in creating these impressive windows. The stories our windows tell can provide a great theme on which to reflect or pray.
By Kate Baines