A NEW sculpture depicting the Nativity has gone on display in St Asaph Cathedral.

The artwork, entitled Nativity – This is God: God is Tenderness, is the work of artist and sculptor Father Rory Geoghegan SJ, a Jesuit priest who lives and works at St Beuno’s Jesuit Spirituality Centre in Tremeirchion.

The sculpture was unveiled during the Advent procession on Advent Sunday and will be on display inside the cathedral throughout Advent, Christmas and into January. The Dean of St Asaph, the Very Rev Nigel Williams, said: “We are really fortunate to be able to have this remarkable new sculpture ‘in residence’ in the Cathedral. It has been hidden under an artist’s drape for a week, but can now be enjoyed not only by the regular congregations, but also by the many hundreds of visitors who come into the cathedral at this time of year.”

The sculpture is a prayerful reflection on the theme of the Incarnation – the human nature of God – and shows Jesus, Mary and Joseph in an intimate and loving family pose.

Fr Rory, who is in his 80s, decided on the title for the work just as he was finishing the sculpture.

By chance, he came across a description of the people of Buenos Aires, Argentina, recalling how at Christmas, their archbishop used to take baby Jesus from the crib to show to the congregation, saying: “This is God. God is tenderness.” That Archbishop is now Pope Francis.

Fr Rory said: “The position of the Nativity sculpture in the cathedral, gently lit behind the glass doors of the west porch, is ideal as it allows visitors to see the sculpture from all sides.

“I invite people to come close to the sculpture and take time looking at it.”

The Nativity sculpture gradually came to life over a period of several months in Fr Rory’s workshop. The basic shape was constructed over pieces of chicken wire and foam blocks covered in many layers of plaster, which were then cut back, shaped and smoothed. The ‘shot silk’ finish is achieved by meticulously applied paint of assorted colours, again built up in layers. A guide accompanies the sculpture at St Asaph Cathedral and visitors can leave a message for Fr Rory in a comment book.