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War-damaged statue makes return to St Paul's after 70 years

A statue showing Mary with the infant Jesus is back on display in St Paul's, more than 70 years after it was hit by bombing in the Second World War.

The Victorian marble statue was part of an ornate high altar and reredos which was installed at the east end of the Cathedral in 1888.

But after that part of the Cathedral took a direct hit during the Blitz of 1940, what remained of the altar was dismantled and dispersed, with just the Madonna and Child and a Crucifix retained by St Paul's.

With the support of its Fabric Advisory Committee, the Cathedral has now taken the fine statue, designed by Thomas Garner, out of storage and is on display in the Chapel of St Erkenwald and St Ethelburga, also known as the Middlesex Chapel, in the north Transept.

The Reverend Canon Michael Hampel, Precentor of St Paul's, said: "Mary looks out into the middle of the Chapel and beyond and her gaze draws people forwards into the Chapel. Jesus looks further across to the south, in the direction of the great William Holman Hunt painting of The Light of the World - so that we see Christ the Child looking towards his destiny as Christ the Man, bringing light into the world both through his teaching and through his example.

"This is the Chapel where we celebrate the Eucharist during what we call the incarnation season of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany and the statue will assist our devotions at that time as well as being a focus for prayer throughout the year."