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Many visitors to Emmaus House over the years will be familiar with the Chapel, and more recently with the small Oratory at the top of the house, and to these has now been added another space for prayer and reflection, the Meditation Room.

Clifton Cathedral parishioner and local architect Richard Winsor, who designed the new Meditation Room, was inspired by key figures within the Christian tradition: “The practice of nothingness was not only one of the hallmarks of Christ’s message but practised by many of the saints, among them Francis of Assisi, Thérèse of Lisieux and Charles de Foucauld. The discipline of simplicity can also be seen in the Shakers’ principles, with their unadorned buildings and unornamented everyday objects. Simplicity is also a principle that has influenced architecture, and “less is more” is a guiding principle for modern architects”.

Putting these principles into practice in his design for the Meditation Room he continued: “With its large Georgian windows the busy world outside is present and yet the quiet and unadorned space helps those within to ignore all that is superfluous there and in their own lives, so that they can concentrate on the essence of being.”

The room’s focal point is a water feature, set in the old fireplace alcove. It too is designed to be simple – a backlit sheet of satin glass down which water gently flows. “Light and water, said Richard Winsor, can be interpreted by different faiths and thinking on these symbols can help us attain an awareness of the love of God that goes beyond the ties of religion.”

Sr Eleanor O’Brien, a La Retraite sister visiting Emmaus House from Dublin, agreed, adding: “The new Meditation Room in Emmaus House is striking for its purity of light and silence: symbols of the divine likely to speak to the God-seeker of today.”

“This is exactly what we dreamed of”, said Sr Moira McDowall, a La Retraite sister from the Emmaus House Community: “Both the Chapel and the Oratory are at the heart of our house and our mission, but we also receive groups and individuals in the house, from other faiths and none, and we wanted to create a very simple and peaceful space where we all could feel equally at home. We are delighted with Richard’s design and Eleanor’s reaction just confirms this.”

The Meditation Room has already been used for a variety of retreats and workshops as well as a prayer space by Muslim visitors. A vigil for peace, organised by the Diocesan Justice & Peace Commission, will take place there around Peace Sunday in mid-January.

The Meditation Room also provides a larger space for creative liturgies, something for which Emmaus House has also become known internationally over the years.

For further details please contact the Emmaus House administrators, Angela and Fiona on 00 44 117 907 9950 or email: emmaushouse@msn.com

To visit the House online, go to www.emmaushouse.org.uk