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Sacred Heart Shrine in Chapel of Reparation

Sacred Heart Shrine in Chapel of Reparation
Artist: Graham Eadie. Photo: Hamilton Lund
By Julie Kelly

“Is this the image of Jesus I want to pray to when I need comforting?”

This image of the Sacred Heart stands in the Chapel of Reparation in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta, and is not the usual comforting image we are used to. No, this work takes us places we would rather not go. This work is challenging in the extreme.

But this question asked of me recently started me thinking about why, as challenging as it is, this work has been such a comfort to me personally during my years here in Parramatta.

I started to think of the times that this image has drawn me to it, and I realised with startling clarity that this is just the Jesus we come to when we are in pain.

This is the Jesus who knows the depth of our sorrow, the all-encompassing pain that throws us into a dark corner when times are toughest.

The one who knows loneliness and despair. This is the Jesus who comforts because He has been there and He walks with us in the hour when our hearts are breaking.

The heart of Christ is shown as a larger-than-life human heart that cannot be contained within the confines of the ribcage or the prison of thorns. As the centrepiece of the work, it evokes the love and compassion of God who surrendered His Son for our salvation.

Reparation is signaled by Christ’s self-surrender, and our own surrender to the compassionate Christ. The lifeblood of Christ pumping in our own veins is a force for our conversion of heart.

The link between this sacrifice of Christ and the Eucharist is shown by the blood trickling into the cup and the bread. Christ’s sorrow is reinforced by the symbols of betrayal – feathers and thirty pieces of silver; with the nails and thorns in black squares, the symbols of the Passion, all added to the traditional images of the Sacred Heart – the heart pierced with an arrow, bound by the crown of thorns make for a contemporary, confronting image that takes us out of our sentimentality and into a real experience with the risen Lord.

This image of Christ rising from the ashes as the bandages fall away is one of hope as the figure, in the act of rising, looks upward and the image is set against the gold backdrop of infinite glory.

It is a work with a lot of movement. You can see where Christ has been, where He is and where He is going. There is an energy to the work that may hint of the Resurrection as life returns to the crucified body of the Lord.

This powerful piece sets a popular devotion at the heart of the Easter mystery. I have found sitting in the quiet sunlight in contemplation with this image a very humbling experience. 

Yes, tomorrow is another day and this work reminds us that we are never alone but walk as the baptised with the saving grace of Christ.

Julie Kelly is Diocesan Coordinator for Sacraments of Initiation for Children & Adults (RCIA) Ph 02 8838 3416 or email


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