Clifton priests present radio series on Raphael

Fr Christopher Whitehead and Fr Michael McAndrew

Fr Christopher Whitehead and Fr Michael McAndrew

Two priests from Clifton Diocese have been in London to record a special radio series about an new exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Parish priest of St Bernadette in Whitchurch, Bristol, Father Christopher Whitehead and parish priest of St Mary's in Swindon, Father Michael McAndrew are part of a new seven-part series exploring the meaning and history behind Raphael's art.

Father Christopher is also Director of Adult Education and Evangelisation for Clifton Diocese.  He said: "To celebrate the Pope's recent historic visit the Victoria and Albert Museum is showing four High Renaissance masterpieces by Raphael.  His depictions of the Acts of Saint Peter and Saint Paul are in the form of tapestries.  

"The tapestries are amazing.  Not only because of their age - they were made between 1516 and 1521 - but because of the stories they tell."

Fr Christopher is not new to galleries and exhibitions.  He curated Clifton Diocese's popular 'The Image of a Pope' international photographic exhibition in the run-up to the Holy Father's visit.

Father Michael was the Papal Visit Coordinator for the Clifton Diocese.  He said:  "We were delighted to be invited to be part of the programmes which help let people know much more about the tapestries and their meaning. Father Christopher and I were in discussion with a Jesuit priest, Dr James Hanvey, who has a deep cultural knowledge and great enthusiasm for how art can help us understand the story of faith.

"It's normally only possible to see Raphael's masterpieces at the Vatican Museum, so it's a wonderful opportunity to have them in our country."

The tapestries, which were originally used to decorate the Sistine Chapel, are the only surviving examples by Raphael and have not been shown before in the United Kingdom.

The 'Raphael: Cartoons and Tapestries for the Sistine Chapel' exhibition is free and runs until 17 October at London's Victoria and Albert Museum.

The 'Tapestry Talk' programmes can be heard at  The series will also be published on the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales website:


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