As I was coming to Westminster Abbey with some friends for Matins and the choir boys, the sculptures over the Great West Door intrigued me. I have seen them for years, but I never thought to see who they were. This time, I was intrigued to see the figure of MARTIN LUTHER KING. I couldn’t understand how an American martyr could find his way to the west facade of the Abbey.
After the service, I asked one of the ushers who explained to me that the niches over the west door had never been filled since the building was completed and Hawksmoor’s 18th century towers were complete. In the 20th century, the decision was made to fill the niches with 20th century martyrs. Which martyrs were to be installed there must have been an interesting process.
So, today, this medieval/Gothic building is brought into the 20th century with personalities we all know from history. Starting from the left of the panel image, we have Maximilian Kolke, Manche Masemola, Janani Luwum, Grand Duchess Elizabeth of Russia, Martin Luther King, Archibishop Oscar Romero, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Esther Joem, Lucian Topiedi, Wang Zhiming.
I know about some of those people, but others are unknown to me. But, I have to admit I was surprised to see the group on the west facade of Westminster Abbey.
Very interesting and certainly revealing.