Thank you for looking at this project. I hope that you will
feel able to help us reach our target for the repair and restoration of two,
large paintings that are important, not just because they are old and beautiful, but because
their history is tells the story of The Catholic Church in The British Isles
during the turbulent years between the suppression of the Monasteries and the return
of Religious orders leading to the restitution of the Hierarchy in 1850. These
paintings are part of our heritage……Lets not lose them. If you would feel able
to donate, however small, please follow the link to the GOFUNDME page.
These panels were originally part of an Altar in the English
Carmelite Monastery in Lierre, in modern Belgium. The paintings date from the
early 1600s and were brought to England in 1794 by nuns who eventually settled
in Darlington, in what became the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle.
There are now just 3 nuns left in the community at
Darlington. At 6 feet high, the paintings are too large for the small house
sisters now occupy. The long term goal is that the paintings can be repaired,
restored and, for the first time in their 400 year history, be displayed in
public. Where the spirituality that inspired them can be explored and the
story, given here of their journey can be told. Their story brings alive and
gives insight into a turbulent period in the religious and social history of
England and Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries..
The panels are now in a poor condition, torn, scratched and
some paint is flaking off the canvases. An art Conservator has assessed them
and the recommended work to preserve them will cost £4780 for the painting of
Saint John of The Cross and £6220 for that of Saint Teresa of Avila. There is a
carriage charge of £330 and VAT of £2266 giving a grand total of 13.596
The Monastery in Lierre, where the panels were part of an
elaborate Altar piece, was established for English women in the 1648. At this
time the Roman Catholic Church was suppressed in The British Isles and
monasteries had been disbanded. Many
Catholics and religious orders had fled to the Continent in order to practise
their faith. The Discalced Carmelites, as a young order, were just founding
houses at this time. New foundations were made especially for English women who
felt called to serve God in monastic life unavailable in their home Country.
In 1790 the revolutionary Government of France ordered the
closure of Monasteries. The Monasteries in Belgium were also suppressed at this
1794, was a very significant year for nuns in France and
Belgium. First, sixteen Discalced Carmelite nuns of Compiegne, France were
accused of living in a religious community. They were taken to Paris and sentenced
to death by guillotine. As martyrs they were beatified in 1906 by Pope St. Pius
In England, King George III brought about the end of state
of persecution of Roman Catholicism and Catholics were invited to return from
The nuns in the Province of Antwerp, which included the
Lierre sisters, were warned of a plot to arrest them.
The sisters fled to England, taking with them, what they
could of the Monastery goods, including these paintings of the co-founders of
Although state persecution of Roman Catholicism had ended in
England, not all welcomed the return of Catholics. This was especially so in
the south of the country. With this in mind the Sisters soon made their way
north eventually settling in Darlington in 1830. The Panels were displayed in
the Monastery enclosure without public access.
We hope to raise sufficient funds to enable the preservation
and public display of these paintings.