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News and views from St. Mary's Woodbridge
Issue 3 Summer 2007

(... continued) Meet the curate

That hurdle over, Pauls final test came with a Selection for the Ministry Conference. The panel of course said Yes and off he went to St Stephens House, Oxford to train as a priest. "I was very happy there," he says, "It was a challenging, but rewarding time, with great people and experiences that have shaped me." Then on 24 June 2007. a day of great joy for him, he was finally ordained deacon at Bury St Edmunds Cathedral. And now he is here at St Marys as our Curate, for three years training, thrilled to be taking up the vocation he has worked for so long to achieve.

So how does he relax? He enjoys all kinds of music, especially classical, "but Im not an expert," he says, "actually Im not an expert at anything, I just really enjoy things." And he loves countryside walking (he hopes to acquire a dog), and swims on a regular basis. He likes reading, especially humour (his current favourite book is Bruce Robinsons Peculiar memoirs of Thomas Penman). And he travels whenever he can. "My main dislike is the heat," he says, "cant bear it so Im planning to start an air-conditioning fund for the church," he adds with a grin (pity he wasnt here last Christmas when the central heating failed!)

Signs and symbols

Sacred Monogram of the Blessed Virgin, symbol of Saint Mary's Church Woodbridge Suffolk

Have you ever noticed the patterns in the flint flushwork on St Marys south porch?

Many of them have symbolic meaning, such as the one shown here, and there are twenty-eight similar examples set around the base of the tower and the south porch. St Marys Church flag uses the same symbol. It is known as the Sacred Monogram of the Blessed Virgin and consists of the stylised letters AMR, conjoined the initial letters of Ave Maria Regina (Hail, Mary Queen) - denoting Mary, the Mother of Jesus, Queen of Heaven. The idea of Mary as Queen of Heaven comes from Revelation 12.1-5, and is emphasised here by the crown and overarching sky. In fact, all five letters of the name MARIA can be deciphered in this motif.

For fascinating information on many other symbols in the flint on our church, the following book is an absolute treasure trove: Mediaeval flushwork of East Anglia and its symbolism by Margaret Talbot (publ Poppyland Publishing, 2004 ISBN 0-946148-69-4) 9.95