On Friday the 13th of May, the Chapel of Lincoln College was defaced during a power cut between 1pm and 9pm. Those responsible are currently unknown to the college, and anyone who knows what happens is advised to contact the college. An email was sent out on the Monday following by the Chaplain, Dr Andrew Shamel, to the whole college, explaining the significance of these actions and why they are particularly hateful to Christians.
The vandals burned out the chapel candles, which included the Paschal candle that must remain burning for the whole 40 day period of Easter. This means it should have been lit until this Friday the 7th of May, which is the Christian holiday of the ascension.
On top of this, they wrote strange symbols on hymnals and service books with black makeup pens. Further, they defaced an embroidered cross on a linen, and spread charcoal into the cloths covering both the altar side table and the altar.
These actions should not only be seen as acts or vandalism, but also hold crucial symbolic meaning for Christians. For example, the altar is the location of the central Christian rite of Eucharist and so the defacing of the linen there is blasphemous. The burning out of the Paschal candle as well can be seen as symbolically aimed against Christians given the candle should remain burning for the whole period.
The Chaplain of Lincoln College emphasised this in his email “These actions may sound trivial, and in a sense many of them are: the service books which were marked can easily be reprinted and the linens may be able to be washed. However, as Chaplain, it is important for me to share why it would be upsetting to find these objects used in the way that they were.
Many of the objects used or defaced have been blessed for use in Christian worship.”
“to find them (objects defaced) abused is for some not unlike the destruction or abuse of a precious heirloom, a work of art, or a memento resonant of a loved one. For others it constitutes a direct attack on God or at the least Christian faith itself.”
He further reiterated that “it is important for the continuance of the shared life of the Chapel that members of Lincoln appreciate the importance of the space and its furnishings. While the Chapel is indeed a space open to all, regardless of faith, and a beautiful space in which to rest and contemplate, it is also a place of Christian worship, which conditions the use and meaning of many of the objects that reside within.”
If you have information, please contact the Lincoln college porters who are working on the incident or the Chaplain himself if you would like to report confidentially any information.
Image Description: a brightly lit image of the interior of Lincoln College Chapel
Image credit: Fr Lawrence Lew