The Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Rev Christopher Foster, ponders the links between ferries and saints
WHEN I travel from Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight – which I do several times a month for work and pleasure – I am fascinated by the ferries.
I’ve become good at working out the different roles played by the people who so skillfully manage the cars and ferries as they load and unload vehicles and people. I’m confident if my car broke down on the ramp they would have the situation swiftly under control.
I know as soon as I see a ferry what sort of coffee I will get on board and the seating I can choose from.
But what I most love is that the ferries are named after saints.
There’s St Faith, who was a medieval saint tortured to death for her beliefs. There are churches dedicated to St Faith at Lee-on-the-Solent and Havant.
Then there’s St Clare, a devout nun who wrote the first monastic rule to be written by a woman. There’s a church dedicated to her at Warren Park, near Havant.
And there’s St Cecilia, the patron saint of musicians – an important saint in the life of the whole church as we rejoice in our musical and cultural traditions.
I often wonder which saint I feel most comfortable entrusting my life to as I set out to sea: is it a saint who would suffer torture and death to protect me?
Or one with the skills to keep me strong and disciplined during the voyage? Or a saint who would keep my spirits high with music and creative arts?
The saints in the Christian tradition are there to inspire us and make us think in fresh ways about life. That’s why nearly all our Anglican churches are dedicated to a saint.
In Portsmouth we have St George’s, Portsea, who slayed the dragon and has become our national saint. We also have the cathedral church dedicated to St Thomas of Canterbury, a man of strong will, some would say stubbornness, and a skilled politician. There are many churches dedicated to Mary the mother of Jesus, whose life of obedience and nurture continues to inspire.
As you set out on the adventures of your life, I wonder who inspires you?
From where do you get your courage, your hope, your creativity? Whoever they are, let’s give thanks for them.