“Sacrum Obumbratio A Pilgrim's Spiritual Companion” to The Sacred Shadows of Wenlock Priory is a new photo book written and published by Revd Matthew Stafford, Team Rector of Holy Trinity Parish, Much Wenlock.
The book is a photo journal, a collection of images, taken by Revd Matthew during his daily walks through the grounds of Wenlock Priory in lockdown. He explains how The Priory became a friend and how the shadows offered a special comfort at a time when he was struggling.
“Lockdowns were difficult for everyone; I was not immune to the emotional rollercoaster and losses that we all experienced. By November last year, I needed some time off work. What I thought was sheer exhaustion, turned out to be depression. I took time away from my job as Rector to look after myself.”
“I am very fortunate to live right next door to Wenlock Priory and I was granted permission to take my daily dog walks through the grounds, it was a real privilege.”
In the stillness of the ruins, Matthew began to notice how the light cast beautiful shadows of the ruins upon the ground. He wanted to capture the images he saw and began taking photographs using his mobile phone. He describes the whole experience as a kind of spiritual revelation that certainly helped him to find a way out of his depression, along with the support of his family, caring Parishioners and an understanding GP. The idea for the book came later, following the loss of his sister, Catherine in March 2021.
“When Catherine was diagnosed with cancer in 2018, she would often come and visit me in Much Wenlock. Our walks through The Priory and Abbey were a key part of her journey. They helped her to rebuild strength before she embarked on the next round of Chemotherapy. During our walks I took photos and she encouraged me to publish a book of them. So it seemed a good fit when I was wondering how I could raise money for her charity AMMF.
“It is an ideal coffee table book and I want people to enjoy looking at my photos. Whether we recognise it or not, we are all spiritual beings and I hope others might sense a connection to the stones and be encouraged to visit. If they do, they will certainly find comfort in this place, as I did.”
A copy of the book can be purchased from Croft Design and The Linden Tree, Much Wenlock, or from Matthew via email. All proceeds are helping to raise funds in memory of Catherine for AMMF.