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Lady Chapel: Advent Doors 2018

Written by Emily Essex, posted on Tuesday, December 11, 2018

These Anglo-Saxon doorways can't be walked through any longer. They cannot welcome outsiders or mark the entrance into this holy place as once they did. They are just echoes of the Church on this site as it once was.

Interior of one of the sealed up doorwaysOur Lady Chapel contains the remnants of two doorways: the arches of stone still visible, but the doorways themselves long since bricked up.

The arches were only discovered in the 19th century, found by the Dean’s Verger, William Francis. It seems as though these arches were part of the original church that was built on this site in around 727. The workmanship is rough, constructed of rag-stones, and it seems that the doorway starts approximately two feet below the current floor level.

There have been numerous iterations of the church that stands now on this site as Cathedral Church for the Diocese of Oxford and College Chapel to Christ Church. The one constant is that there has been a building here ever since those doors were first put in: one in which the coming of Christ at Christmas has been celebrated.

The Lady Chapel in the Cathedral is dedicated to Mary, Jesus’s mother, ‘most highly favoured lady’. In our preparations for Christmas we remember Mary, who accepted so willingly the Angel’s annunciation, and her journey to Bethlehem with Joseph. We also remember how, when they reached Bethlehem, the doors that they knocked on were closed.

Some doors may be closed to us, in Christ Church as in life, but the Christmas season reminds us with a particular poignancy that while some things will change, others are eternal.

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. (Revelation 22.13)