At the start of today’s noon Ash Wednesday service, Bishop Christopher dedicated and then put on a new cope, designed by artist Terry Duffy.
The Coventry Dresden Cope, described by the artist as “a symbol of unity within a world shaken by conflict”, is a large and powerful piece of art, painted in oils on hot pressed board and nearly four metres high. It is an artwork in two halves, intended to symbolise the historic differences between the two cities and nations. Each half can stand alone, but clearly and deliberately needs the other to reconcile its overall strength, narrative and message. The original artwork from which the cope is developed was offered by Terry Duffy to the Church of England and the Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland (the German Protestant Church) in 2014. It was displayed as a whole piece in the Frauenkirche, Dresden for the 70th anniversary of the bombing of the city in February 2015, and in Coventry Cathedral for the 75th anniversary of the bombing in November 2016.
Inspired by the artwork, Bishop Christopher supported the artist’s desire to translate the piece into a wearable cope. The design is a striking representation of the story of Coventry and Dresden, including wartime images familiar to both cities, the symbol of the Cross of Nails, the words ‘Father Forgive – Vater Vergib’, as well as a representation of the crucifix from the artist’s earlier work ‘Victim, no resurrection’, a powerful depiction of the cross exhibited in the Cathedral from time to time.
The Coventry Dresden Cope, as a vestment, is intended to be worn on special occasions only and by individuals who significantly represent the message and task of reconciliation in their ministry, thus symbolising the ways in which they carry, wear and bear the story of Coventry and Dresden. Worn for the first time today, the cope is presented to Coventry Cathedral for use here and in Dresden.