The New Guinea Martyrs Memorial Window
The Memorial Window commemorating the New Guinea Martyrs was dedicated by the Archbishop of Melbourne, the Most Rev. Dr Joseph Booth, during the procession at the start of High Mass on Sunday 27th October, 1946. This service, which was broadcast by the ABC, was the first major function of the week between Sunday October 27 and Sunday November 3, during which the centenary of St Peter's Eastern Hill was celebrated. The Centenary Window was largely the conception of the Vicar of St Peter's, Canon Farnham Maynard (Parish Priest of St Peter's from 1926 to 1964), and was designed in collaboration with the artist, Napier Waller. In the words of Canon Maynard "... this window is to be the main commemoration of our centenary, and a perpetual sermon, and a thanksgiving to God for the lives and sacrifice of the martyr missionaries."
The story of the New Guinea Martyrs of 1942 has been told in many places. An excellent compilation of histories and transcripts of original documents is available on-line through Project Canterbury at this link. Here, we shall concentrate on the story of the window itself and the sermon that it contains in pictures; however, a brief summary of the history in New Guinea is in order.
Anglican missionaries first arrived on the north coast of eastern New Guinea, at a place near Dogura, on August 10, 1891. Teaching and medical missions were gradually established along the north coast and in the inland mountain villages. St Peter's Eastern Hill has a proud tradition of supporting this ministry and, over the years, several parishioners have offered themselves for service in these missions.
When the Japanese Imperial Army invaded the north coast of Papua in March 1942, Bishop Philip Strong (Bishop of New Guinea from 1936 to 1962), advised his mission staff to leave for their own safety before the Japanese arrived, but many elected to stay with their people. It is estimated that some 333 church workers of all denominations died for their faith in Papua New Guinea during the Second World War. Of these, twelve were associated with the Anglican Missions, coming mostly from around Popondetta — at the villages of Gona, Sangara and Isivita.
The village of Sangara is slightly to the north of Kokoda, another New Guinea village that features prominently in the Australian history of the war because of the sacrifices made by both Australians and Papuans on the track between Port Moresby and Kokoda — their opposition to the Japanese advance at that time probably averted the direct invasion of Northern Australia.
The personal stories of the Anglican Martyrs are told movingly by Archbishop Strong in his sermon at St Peter's on New Guinea Martyrs Day, September 2, 1981: "The Good Shepherd Layeth Down His Life for the Sheep". Bishop Strong knew most of these people, and was able to bring their stories to life in a personal way.
The ten Anglican Martyrs recognized at the time the window was constructed in 1946 were:–
- Henry Matthews, priest, and
Leslie Gariadi, his Papuan assistant;
- Henry Holland, priest from Isivita;
- John Duffill, builder/carpenter from Isivita;
- Vivian Redlich, priest from Sangara;
- Sister Margery Brenchley, nurse from Sangara;
- Lilla Lashmar, teacher from Sangara;
- Lucian Tapiedi, Papuan teacher/evangelist from Sangara;
- Sister May Hayman, nurse from Gona, fiancée of Fr Vivian Redlich;
- Mavis Parkinson, teacher from Gona.
The two priests from the New Guinea Islands (Diocese of Melanesia until 1949), were:–
John Barge, priest;
Bernard Moore, priest.
These two, who were killed in the New Guinea Islands, were added to the list of Anglican Martyrs from New Guinea in 1949 and 1992, respectively.
Fr Matthews and his assistant Leslie Gariadi were killed when the boat they were on was sunk between Port Moresby and Daru and the survivors machine-gunned. Lucian Tapiedi was axed to death by a collaborator from his own people when he stood up for the Missionaries from Sangara and Isivita whom he was accompanying. The five Lucian was with were beheaded shortly afterwards on Buna Beach. The two Gona missionary sisters were bayonetted to death at Jegarata, near Popondetta.
All these deaths occurred around or during August, 1942. Bishop Strong later proclaimed September the 2nd as the official Feast for the Commemoration of the New Guinea Martyrs. This commemoration is celebrated at St Peter's on the first Sunday in September every year.
Recent sermons preached at St Peter's on New Guinea Martyrs Day include the following:–
- Rowan Callick, September 3, 2000
- Fr Colin Holden, September 2, 2001
- Rowan Callick, September 1, 2002
- Canon Donald Johnston, September 7, 2003
- Linda Kurti, September 3, 2006
Proper Collect for the New Guinea Martyrs
O Almighty God, who didst enable thy missionary and Papuan martyrs, in New Guinea, in a day of sore trial and danger, to be faithful to their calling and to glorify thee by their deaths: Grant we humbly beseech thee that, by the witness of these thy martyrs, thy whole Church may be enriched and strengthened for the gathering into thy fold of thy children in all lands; and that we thy servants, following the example of their steadfastness and courage, may labour the more fervently for the coming of thy kingdom, and may so faithfully serve thee here on earth that we may be joined with them hereafter in heaven. Through thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
Bishop Philip Strong.
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