I thought I would publish this blog post while I’m away at my ordination retreat in case you’re missing me during my social media blackout!
I am so blessed to have such a creative father, he has very lovingly designed and made my ordination stole for me. In fact, he ended up making me two – we first expected that the stole would need to be red (as it has been in Durham for some years) so he made me a red one. Then I discovered that the stoles this year will be white at Durham, so this gave Dad the opportunity to build on what he learnt making the red one!
I wanted my stole to represent something related to St Hild of Whitby who has become a bit of a patron to me during my vocation journey. I have written before about what she means to me. One of the symbols of Hild is the ammonite – this is related to a legend that she turned a plague of snakes to stone (much like St Patrick is said to have banished snakes from Ireland). Rather enterprising locals began selling ammonites as souvenirs carving snake heads onto them, saying that they were proof of Hild’s miracle!
Ammonites also fascinate me as they naturally contains the mysterious Fibonacci sequence which relates to the golden ratio – so, for me, it’s a wonderful symbol of the beauty of creation. In addition to that, they are also a spiral pattern. Spiral patterns have appeared on ancient stones in Britain and are one of the earliest religious symbols. I recently found out that St Michael’s, the church in which I will be serving my title as curate, is on the site of some kind of stone circle indicating that it has been a site of worship since the time of Abraham! So, in a sense, the spiral ammonites are a nod to the prehistoric and celtic roots of St Michael’s as well.
Here are pictures of the stole in which I will be made deacon on Sunday 29th June at Durham Cathedral:
But what of the red stole? I will still wear this stole for Saints and Martyrs, Passiontide and the Feast of Pentecost, here are some pictures of the red one. The red stole includes the first lines of Caedmon’s hymn of praise – the earliest hymn we have in old English – Caedmon was encouraged in his musical gift by Hild:
nu scylun hergan hefaenricaes uard
now we must honour the warden of heaven
You can hear the hymn read in Old English in this video.
A massive thank you to my dad, Andrew Hall, for creating these beautiful stoles for me to wear.