Aylesford to celebrate opening of Edith Stein Centre

 A celebration is taking place today at Aylesford Friary in Kent, to mark the opening of the recently-restored North Barn as the Edith Stein Centre. The Archbishop of Southwark, Rt Rev Kevin MacDonald, is leading the blessing and dedication ceremony and will unveil a two-thirds life-size figure of Edith Stein carved in wood by the artist, Geoff Lucas. The restoration of the barn is a major achievement for the Friars and completes a programme of work which began with the restoration of the 13th century Pilgrim Hall which was in danger of falling into the River Medway, and major repairs to the 17th century Gatehouse. Until recently the barn, a rare 17th century wooden building, was in a very poor state of repair. It will now provide a major new facility for pilgrims. For more information on Aylesford visit: www.thefriars.org.uk/ Edith Stein sculpture Seated and with one finger keeping her place in the book on her lap, Geoff Lucas' carving depicts this profound thinker on philosophical and religious matters, who was canonised by Pope John Paul II, with eyes closed, caught perhaps in contemplation of what she has just read. Stein converted to Catholicism in 1922 after many years spent in search of a spiritual truth she felt adrift from. She studied and taught philosophy, becoming assistant to Edmund Husserl, the 'father of phenomenology'. In 1932 she joined the Carmelite cloister in Cologne, then in 1938, to escape the Nazi persecution of the Jews, she moved to the community in Echt, Netherlands. There she was arrested by the Gestapo in 1942, taken to Auschwitz, and killed in the gas chambers. Geoff Lucas Artist Geoff Lucas shares a studio with his wife, who is a painter, in a church in South-East London. He teaches, and is a practitioner of, contemporary fine art. He writes: "My work is predominantly sculpture (I studied sculpture at Canterbury) most often in wood with degrees of carving. Although it takes very different forms, the consistent concern in the work is the approach taken; looking for poetic meaning, and musing on philosophical difficulties encountered in life and in making art. For more information see: www.geofflucas.freeuk.com

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