St Finbar's Glenbrook Parish

The Main Doors of the Church

(An Explanation of the Symbols of St Finbar’s Church Glenbrook)

Symbols of St Finbars - Main Doors
Photo: Peter McMahon

The main doors of the new church are decorated with certain symbols after the manner of the doors of the great churches of Europe.

On the centre wooden doors, the symbols designate the twelve apostles upon whom Jesus Christ founded His Church.

Linking the glass panels, upon which the symbols are sand-blasted, are some iron tracery in the form of a vine. This recalls the words of Jesus to His disciples, "I am the vine and you are the branches".

These symbols are on the door in order to remind us as we enter the portal of the church that our religious roots stretch back in a line of apostolic succession from Bishop Bede Heather, and Pop John Paul II to the original apostolic college.

The explanation of the symbols is as follows:

The Greek letters at the top namely, alpha and omega, are to be found in the Apocalypse 1:8 and 21:6.

The usage there is that the quality of God as the originator of all things is shared with Christ as the Risen Lord. On the left had side as one enters the church, the panels in descending order represent: St Peter; St James the greater, who was the first to go on a missionary journey; St Jude (Thaddeus) who travelled widely on missionary journeys; St James, the Less, who was martyred by defenestration and mutilation; St Bartholomew who travelled to Armenia and who was very cruelly martyred; St Andrew.

On the right hand side as one enters the church: St Matthew, who was called from his bank to follow Christ; St John who was saved from poisoning in order to write his divine gospel; St Simon who was notable for the great numbers he baptised; St Thomas who was formerly a builder before being called by Jesus; St Matthias who was chosen to fill the place of Judas.

The other symbols are images drawn from the Gospels where the church is variously described as: a wheat field in which weeds are oversown; a mighty rock; a hill city; and a ship.

The Australian native flora depicted are: the Woody Pear, Xylomelum Pyriforme; the Old Man Banksia, Banksia Serrata; the Hakea Bakeriana; and the Mountain Devil bush, Lambertia Formosa. These shrubs produce woody seed pods which will not open until a bush fire destroys the parent bush and a shower of rain germinates the seed which has fallen to the ground. In the context of the biblical images of fire they are then topical images and symbols of the central Christian belief of resurrection of Christ and of those who die and rise with Him in baptism.

The mention of fire in the quotations refer to the various meanings which are given to it in the Bible. St Luke cites Jesus as bringing fire as a reference to the coming of the Holy Spirit. In the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Hebrew Bible), the Divine Presence is Manifested in various ways: the pillar of fire; the dark mist; the cloud and especially as a consuming fire. The controlled fire of the furnace also is an image the Bible uses to convey something of the creative and transforming power of God, because in a furnace, metal is produced from rock and impurities are removed from metal. Even today, with all our scientific knowledge of the constitution of material things and our devices to control fire, we still stand in awe and fear before a wild-fire in our native bush. It is this feeling of the human being before the transcendent God that the images try to capture.