St Paul’s Cathedral has been here for over 1,400 years. It has been built and rebuilt five times, and always its main purpose has been as a
place of worship and prayer.
St Paul's, with its world-famous dome, is an iconic feature of the London skyline. Step inside and you can enjoy the Cathedral's awe-inspiring
interior, and uncover fascinating stories about its history.
Learning & Faith
Education is a core part of the Cathedral's work, delivered through a variety of events by St Paul's Forum, St Paul's Institute and the
Schools & Families department.
History & Collections
For more than 1,400 years, a Cathedral dedicated to St Paul has stood at the highest point in the City. The present Cathedral is the
masterpiece of Britain's most famous architect Sir Christopher Wren.
Behind the scenes, the cost of caring for St Paul's and continuing to deliver our central ministry and work is enormous and the generosity of
our supporters is critical.
Widely considered to be one of the world’s most beautiful buildings and a powerful symbol of the splendour of London, St Paul’s Cathedral is a
breathtaking events venue.
Created by Bill Viola and Kira Perov and opened in May 2014, Martyrs shows four individuals,
across four colour vertical plasma screens, being martyred by the four classical elements. The work has no sound. It lasts for seven minutes.
Martyrs was joined in 2016 by a second piece entitled Mary. The installations have been gifted to Tate, and are on long-term loan to St Paul’s
Bill Viola's commission for St Paul’s Cathedral follows the great historical tradition of commissions for spiritual centres that has
resulted in a priceless heritage of art around the world.
The result of this commission sees St Paul’s Cathedral, which has always spearheaded the engagement of great artists, house a resonant
work of art for our times. Martyrs(and later Mary), will play an important role in connecting contemporary issues with the timeless themes
embodied in the cathedral.
Through the relationship between St Paul’s and Tate Modern, visitors to both sites will become aware of the possibilities available on
either site and it is hoped that this will lead to new audiences for both. With the symbolic link of the Millennium Bridge, two great
institutions will be connected through art.
Bill Viola says:
As the work opens, four individuals are shown in stasis, a pause from their suffering. Gradually there is movement in each scene as an
element of nature begins to disturb their stillness. Flames rain down, winds begin to lash, water cascades, and earth flies up. As the
elements rage, each martyr’s resolve remains unchanged. In their most violent assault, the elements represent the darkest hour of the
martyr’s passage through death into the light.
Martyrs in context - The Reverend Canon Mark Oakley.
Good art, like good religion, questions our answers more than answering our questions and with a form and language that resist cheap
Our visitors are able to encounter the universal spiritual questions of life and death that this extraordinary work lays before us. A
contemporary medium that so often controls mass culture is slowed and shaped to unravel that control, allowing us to face ourselves alone in
our fragility and potential. The rumour of God is very loud in the work, as enigmatic as it is profound, and I have no doubt the work will be a
spiritual encouragement to those who spend time with it.
Today martyrdom is often spoken of in terms of what people kill themselves for and others with them. It is more authentically a word that
focuses on what a human being might be willing to die for – faith, conscience, justice, love of others. This work deepens our perceptions
by slowing them down. We see the courage and resilience of the human in the face of all that would destroy what is true and good. We each have
been given the gift of being. The gift we have to offer in return is who we become and how our lives, and deaths, might transform the world.
All visitors coming to the Cathedral during regular opening hours, will be able to view Martyrs, based on the usual Cathedral admission
Monday - Saturday
8.30am - 4pm
Please check the cathedral calendar for special closures
Owing to weddings and baptisms, some sections of the Cathedral are closed for short periods on Saturdays, including where Martyrs is situated. Please do ask a member of staff for information on your arrival or once inside.
Art Fund and Tate members
Art Fund and Tate members will receive 50% off tickets to enter the Cathedral.
Free short viewings
Every day (Monday - Friday) short escorted visits to the installation will take place at 11.30am and 2.15pm for those not visiting as regular
sightseers. Please arrive at the main west entrance for these.
Press & Media
Members of the press are advised to view the work during one of the short viewings, detailed above. No photography of filming will be
permitted. No special access will be granted unless pre-arranged through Bolton &
Quinn - please contact Jess Baggaley on 0207 221 5000.
There is no age restriction on viewing Martyrs.