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The 1.6 metre high Ambo (lectern) is by Nigel Boonham, an English sculptor with whom the Archdiocese of Sydney has an extensive history.
The Ambo of the Apostles was originally designed for St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney. The predominant, traditional format for a brass lectern is the Eagle on a Globe with open wings but Nigel wanted to make something different, in keeping with the theme of the Altar/Statues Triptych in St Mary’s, which depicts events in the last days of Christ’s life. It seemed appropriate to show the twelve Apostles of that time, even though this meant including Judas Iscariot. However there was room in the design to put in St Matthias as well, the replacement twelfth Apostle after the death of Judas.
After researching medieval lecterns in English Cathedrals, some superb mouldings from the Lincoln Cathedral lectern of 1669 gave Nigel inspiration to create the pillar that holds aloft the bookstand of the ambo. (Lincoln was also an inspiration to Wardell, the architect of St Mary’s Cathedral, for the East Window at St Mary’s).
Traditionally the feet of an ambo are Lions, but His Eminence suggested kangaroos to be in keeping with the Australian setting. This proved a happy suggestion although it was more difficult to engineer the support with the weight of the ambo just on their tails. The globe was incorporated further down the stem.
The Ambo took about twelve months to plan, design and realise. It is probable that very few brass lecterns, similar in mass and scale to the original medieval lecterns, such as this, have been cast in perhaps the last 300 years. The Ambo is assembled from over 35 different cast or machined brass sections.
Identification of the figures on the Ambo:
Front panel left to right: St James, St Andrew, St Peter, St John, St Mathew and St Thomas
Right hand side panel left to right: Judas, St James the Just, St Philip
Left hand side panel left to right: St Jude, St Simon, St Bartholomew
Back Panel: St Mathias