You can’t get away from saints in the Vatican City. There are shedloads of them.
I don’t mean the great and good (and possibly not-so-good) roaming the corridors of the Holy See. To really see the saints you have to look up. And then you realise that they are everywhere.
In St Peters Square there are large colonnades on each side and the saints stand on top of these, carved in marble, benevolently or otherwise staring down at the crowds below. So far….so traditional.
Fast-forward now to Harrogate – a bit different to the Vatican. A very posh, nice town which has won many Britain in Bloom awards and you can see why. Flower beds, nail clippers, etc etc.
In Harrogate, the entrance to the Victoria Shopping Centre leads out onto a “plaza” with shops and easy access to the train station. And atop the plaza roof are Harrogate’s answer to the Vatican saints.
The figures of ordinary people – a family, a businessman, a ‘cheeky chappy’, look down on the plaza with kindness. They are the saints of Harrogate, far away from Italy but still making a point.
When we sing “For All the Saints”, or mark All Saints Day, we’re not just remembering Peter, Matthew, Mark, Luke and George. We’re remembering the ordinary people who have been or still are saints to us, servants of the church or otherwise, people who have encouraged us, prayed for us, supported us and have been faithful and given wise counsel.
The “saints of Harrogate” cheered me up. You don’t have to have written a gospel or caused a miracle to be part of something bigger.