The Deluge – 17 September 2018

A wave of people are being driven from left to right by a deluge of water – flood and rain. Desperately, they are trying to find safety: some climb mountains, some cling to islands, some implore heaven in anguish. The deluge is no respecter of persons, young and old, men and women are all caught in its path. In the top right an ark quietly sails away. There are no doors or windows in this vessel. There is no help or rescue here.

This picture is by Winifred Knights (The Deluge, 1920), an outstanding, though much neglected, artist who trained at The Slade. This picture won the 1920 Prix de Rome Scholarship, which took Winifred to the British School in Rome for three years. Her paintings, like this one, are modernist in style, but greatly influenced by the Italian paintings of the Quattrocentro. She was a painter who contributed to the revival of religious art in the 1920s. Winifred paints herself into this picture, she is at the front, center right, her mother follows her holding a baby.

In 1917 she observed the devastation caused by Zeppelin raids and suffered a breakdown. This picture is a lament to the destruction and death caused by disaster and war.

We might look at The Deluge and remember all those caught in the paths of Hurricane Florence and Typhoon Mangkhut, for whom disaster has struck in a random manner in the midst of the routines of life.


The mountains saw you and writhed;
the raging waters swept on;
the deep gave forth its voice;
it lifted its hands on high.

Habakkuk 3:10

The native people showed us unusual kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all, because it had begun to rain and was cold.

St Paul’s arrival in a storm in Malta, Acts 28:2

Compassionate Lord,
we pray for those who have been devastated by recent natural disasters. We remember those who have lost their lives so suddenly. We hold in our hearts the families forever changed by grief and loss. Bring them consolation and comfort. Surround them with our prayers for strength. Bless those who have survived and heal their memories of trauma and devastation. May they have the courage to face the long road of rebuilding ahead.
We ask your blessing on all those who have lost their homes, their livelihoods, their security and their hope. Bless the work of relief agencies and those providing emergency assistance. May their work be guided by the grace and strength that comes from You alone.
Help us to respond with generosity in prayer, in assistance, in aid to the best of our abilities. Keep our hearts focused on the needs of those affected, even after the crisis is over. We ask this in Jesus’ name,

Catholic Relief Services