Saint Luke in Prison

The Mural of thr Nativity
The Mural of Saint Luke in Prison as Painted

The final mural, depicting Saint Luke, was painted at the request of Padre Chambers. It showed an aged Saint Luke in prison, writing for the fledgling Christian community. Saint Paul is by his side and an angel behind him. A Roman Centurion stands guard. The walls of the prison are broken down, and the bars are bent to show that the spirit cannot be contained. Christ's word would go out to the world despite imprisonment. Stanley had in his mind the words of the British poet Richard Lovelace, “Stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage.....”.

Of all the murals, this was the one least liked by Stanley. He not only felt that it was far too heavy and grey, but he did not want to paint it in the first place. He would have preferred something more in keeping with the theme of the other murals, perhaps a scene from Christ’s active ministry. Padre Chambers, however, was insistent that a mural of Saint Luke should be in the chapel which was named after him. Stanley was sad that the padre imposed his views, and felt that this cast a slight shadow in their relationship. He offered to paint Luke raising a sick man, but the Padre rejected this as being too close to the situation of the prisoners in the hospital, something that Stanley understood. “So often, Padre Chambers walked with me and said, “You know, it's so hard to try and persuade men to live”. When you look at the suffering, you think death would be a most merciful release.... I know at times he was quite heart broken in the fact that he could do nothing except say a few kind words and give such comfort....”.

The harmonium, used to provide musical accompaniment for singing in the Chapel was placed under this mural.

The remains of the Mural

The mural of St Luke in Prison was almost completely destroyed when the lower portion of the wall was demolished to make a link to the adjoining room. This happened when the Japanese took over the chapel to use as storage space. The picture above shows the damage. Other murals also suffered damage and some of this can be seen on an examination of them.

The picture at the top of the page is taken from a copy of Stanley’s original drawing showing how the mural originally appeared.

To Althea, from Prison

WHEN Love with unconfinèd wings
Hovers within my gates,
And my divine Althea brings
To whisper at the grates;
When I lie tangled in her hair
And fetter’d to her eye,
The birds that wanton in the air
Know no such liberty.

When flowing cups run swiftly round
With no allaying Thames, 10
Our careless heads with roses bound,
Our hearts with loyal flames;
When thirsty grief in wine we steep,
When healths and draughts go free
Fishes that tipple in the deep
Know no such liberty.

When, like committed linnets,
I With shriller throat shall sing
The sweetness, mercy, majesty,
And glories of my King;
When I shall voice aloud how good
He is, how great should be,
Enlargèd winds, that curl the flood,
Know no such liberty.

Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage;
Minds innocent and quiet take
That for an hermitage;
If I have freedom in my love
And in my soul am free,
Angels alone, that soar above,
Enjoy such liberty.

Richard Lovelace. 1618-1658.