Church's window art turns Kiri into a saint

The new window panels in St Paul's Cathedral, Dunedin. Photo / Otago Daily Times
The new window panels in St Paul's Cathedral, Dunedin. Photo / Otago Daily Times

One of the world's leading sopranos was all smiles yesterday as she viewed her likeness in a stained glass window at St Paul's Cathedral in Dunedin.

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa said she felt "incredibly honoured" to have her face portrayed as St Cecilia - the patron saint of musicians and church music - on a recently commissioned work at the cathedral.

The singer stopped in the city on her way to Oamaru where she was to perform last night at the town's recently refurbished Opera House.

"It's really lovely. I love church windows, and to be in one is pretty amazing. I wouldn't say I've been immortalised in the window - but it's there for hundreds of years now."

She photographed the window, saying it was wonderful to see it in person, and marvelled at the "gorgeous" colours.

The four-paneled artwork was commissioned by Dunedin residents Dr Stella and Dr Donald Cullington, and was created by Maia stained-glass artist Peter Mackenzie, who spent two years researching and creating the window.

Mackenzie said Dame Kiri was the perfect choice for St Cecilia because she was a well-known New Zealander and embodied the mix of cultures embraced by the Anglican Church of New Zealand.

Depicted in another of the window's vertical panels was the Bishop of Dunedin the Rt Rev Dr Kelvin Wright, as St Paul.

Dame Kiri will make a guest appearance on the British period drama television series Downton Abbey, this year. She will play Australian soprano Dame Nellie Melba, and will sing as part of her role.

- Otago Daily Times

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