Ikon of Our Lady of Mettingham
The story of the painting of the Ikon of Our Lady of Mettingham began when the Church had just started to be built with the dedication to the Mother of God, Joy of All Who Sorrow.
It was towards the end of 2008 that our researches into the ecclesiastical history of the local area led us to realise that the Waveney Valley had a special devotion to Our Lady in ancient times with an extraordinary number of churches and shrines dedicated to her. From Edmund Waterton’s comprehensive study, Pietas Mariana Britannica (1879) we were further amazed to come across the following entry for Mettingham:
A piece of land called Nolloths was left to the College of Mettingham, to find a wax light, for ever to be burnt before the image of our Blessed Ladye in the choir of the chapel.
Not only therefore was there a Chantry College dedicated to the Mother of God, to pray for the soul of the Founder John de Norwich and his family, as well as educate students and celebrate the divine services, but also there was a highly venerated image of her - here in Mettingham. From the voluminous accounts of the College, that still survive in thick folio volumes, we know that the Collegiate Chapel was magnificently decorated in as, Suckling puts it, “a cathedral style” complete with painting, glass, sculpture, carving, and hangings of the very highest quality.
However, sadly, like so many of the churches and shrines of England, “Our Lady’s Dowry”, the original image has long since been destroyed at the Reformation and the Chantry College abandoned and left in ruins. But whilst looking through a historical journal on the history of the College we stumbled across an engraving of the Seal of Mettingham College, which, in its centre depicts the Mother of God, crowned, enthroned and with a sceptre with the Christ Child standing on her knee, touchingly holding her protecting veil. It is a truly wonderful image and accurately preserves the original, and unique features of the Image of Our Lady that was so loved by the people of Mettingham in ancient times.
We then sent some close-up pictures of the Seal to our friend Efrem Carrasco who went on to produce a radiantly beautiful ikon, which preserves the subtle details of the original image, whilst translating it authentically into the fullness of the Orthodox ikonographical tradition. The Trustees of the Mettingham Orthodox Trust hope that the blessing and installation of the Ikon into the newly-blessed College will represent the return of the veneration of the Mother of God to this area so that it might once more might become, in the words of the Troparion, “Mettingham’s Joy and Waveneny’s Glory!”
Most Holy Mother of God, save us!
College of Our Lady of Mettingham, 2012