12 ICONS

Wunderkammer Studio, Auckland, New Zealand ~ 21st January 2010

(Birthdate of Saint Agnes, numbered in order of appearance)

“LOVE IS THE ONLY RELIGION”

1. Larkspur

Larkspur © Bloodlilley.com

The angel who makes a deal with the devil..when he loses the deal the devil cuts off his hands…the only way he can re-grow his hands is by making better choices…(don’t make deals with the devil). Adapted from a tale in the book “Women who run with the wolves” by Clarissa Pinkola Est’es and inspired by a song of the same name by the Veils.

2. Magdalene

The Magdalene © Bloodlilley.com

Saint Mary Magdalene… known as the first disciple of Jesus Christ. Embodies the tenacity and patience of love and the unfailing ability to love.
My Magdalene represents the inner woman who loves through suffering, who bears all and loves regardless. Her hands are bound with a rosary, her heart is bound with devotion. She is the patron saint of Repentant Sinners and Contemplatives.

3. Heloise

Heloise © Bloodlilley.com

(Mistress of Abelard)

A young woman from a wealthy French family, born 1101. Well educated and a brilliant scholar with a reputation for intelligence and insight. Became the student of the philosopher Peter Abelard.

They fell in love, became illicit lovers, married in secret and had a child . When their relationship was discovered they were brutally separated. Abelard was castrated and they lived out the rest of their lives in separate religious orders. Throughout the entire time however, they communicated through letters and sustained each other spiritually.

4. Abelard

Abelard © Bloodlilley.com

(Lover of Heloise)

Peter Abelard.. one of the greatest thinkers of the 12th century. Controversial and free of thought, he influenced certain theological ideas which are still upheld today. He taught private students and in the University of Paris.

Abelard and Heloise came to me by chance when I purchased a book of their letters just for the picture on the cover. When in Paris and wandering through the headstones in Pere Lachaise cemetery I stumbled onto their tomb… their love their grand passion reminds me that love is eternal, and conquers all.

5. Saint Catherine (of Siena)

Saint Catherine © Bloodlilley.com

I visited the bones of Saint Catherine and was forever enchanted with Siena…and her story.

She was known as the virgin doctor of the church…who had three years of celestial visitations and conversations with Christ…Catherine was physically weak and went for long periods of time with little or no food save the blessed sacrament. She underwent continual persecution by friars and sisters within her own religion and in 1395 received the stigmata. The saying was that she had traded her heart with Jesus and now carried the weight of the sins of the world.

My Catherine is an anorexic …hallowed visionary.

6. Raphael Weeps

Raphael Weeps © Bloodlilley.com

The Angel Raphael was set by God over the demons…he heals the damage done by them. He is the healing aspect of God. He reaches out to humanity and takes away their suffering and pain…he offers them solace.

My Raphael weeps for the pain lovers inflict upon each other and for a humanity plagued with narcissism.

7. Saint Hildegard (von Bingham)

Saint Hildergard © Bloodlilley.com

Born into a reputed wealthy, possibly royal family in Boclheim.

She was a sickly child and at the age of 8 she was placed in the care of a religious recluse. Hildegard was often sick, could not walk at times and suffered from intermittent periods of blindness.

She was received into the Benedictine order where she was taught Latin. However through divine methods, receiving visions since a small child… she was able to compose music, write poetry and philosophy pertaining to physical and spiritual health.

My Hildegard represents art awakening to science, science to music and religion to science. In a circular fashion, she illuminates the darkness of ignorance.

(some of her compositions are included in the soundtrack for this exhibition)

8. Saint Agnes

Saint Agnes © Bloodlilley.com

The victorious virgin..she is held as a symbol for innocence and chastity.

She resisted the advances of a Roman of some power…was sent to a house of prostitution in Rome where it was assumed that she would lose her virginity.

Agnes however, with the holiness of her bearing and by divine intervention proved to be impervious to the corruption around her. She returned home as virginal and intact as ever. However this angered the Romans and they executed her. She is the patron saint of rape victims.

My Saint Agnes…is blissful in the flames that engulf her…pure of heart regardless of the efforts of others to taint her.

9. Saint Afra

Saint Afra © Bloodlilley.com

The saintly prostitute, born in Augsbourge. She was persecuted and arrested as a Christian in the time of the persecutions of Diocletian…during her trial she refused to offer sacrifices to the pagan gods, saying that “her body had sinned and might be punished but that she refused to defile her soul”. They burned her to death on a small island in the river Leech.

She is the patron saint of penitent women. My Afra..represents societies hypocritical condemnation of the “fallen woman”…something which remains unchanged today.

10. Azrael

Azrael © Bloodlilley.com

The Angel Azrael ~ The Arch Angel of death.
Azrael is an angel from Islamic and Hebrew lore.
As an Arch Angel he is a subordinate to God…Jewish tales state that he is the embodiment of evil though not evil itself.
He is responsible for recording the information on the dead.

My Azrael gathers up the souls of the dead in his cloak to take them to heaven where he can log their stories in his book of life and death.

11. Our Lady of Sorrows

Our Lady of Sorrows © Bloodlilley.com

Mary, Maria, Marie.. Mother of Christ.
Mother to all of humanity… to intercede for us all.
Our Lady of Sorrows carries the pain of the seven sorrows relating to Jesus and his crucifixion.
Patron saint of the entire human race.

My Lady of Sorrows bears the pain of heart break… she carries the weight of her sorrows with grace, dignity and beauty… her religion is love.

12. Saint Rita

Saint Rita © Bloodlilley.com


Born in Italy 1381… wished to be a nun at an early age however her parents arranged for her to be married at the age of twelve. Her husband proved to be abusive, neglectful and unfaithful.

Rita bore this ill treatment with patience and grace… after 18 years her husband and two sons all died and finally she was able to approach the church to enter the Augustine convent. She was turned away as she was not a virgin.

She persisted and was eventually given entry… as a nun became famous for her penance and prayerfulness. In 1441 after meditating intensely on Christ’s Passion she received a wound in her forehead like that of a thorny crown and was hailed as a mystic. Saint Rita is the Patron Saint of Hopeless Situations.

My Saint Rita.. dances in silence to the music of her own heart. She understands the beauty of pain and the wisdom of tenacity and patience.

Love is the only truth.