The Life of Christ
in Words and Pictures

Jesus, Son of God, Son of Mary     
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Fr John Medcalf, otherwise known as Fr Juan Luis to his friends and colleagues in Central and South America where he worked for many years, spent the last years of his life writing and developing the text for this remarkable project. Based on the Latin American text Un Tal Jesus by José Ignacio and Maria Lopez Vigil, John Medcalf was inspired to take this unconventional approach to bring to audiences the very real message of the Gospel stories. His use of such a seemingly modern idiom may startle those unaccustomed to his style of imparting the message of Christ during his priestly career, but in fact many have found, through his writings and dramatic interpretations, a great insight into the life of Christ and that vital relevance of the message of the Gospel to life in the 21st century. 

The wine has run out at the wedding-feast. Joanna says: Oh no! That's the last straw ... the embarrassment of it all! Mary, what can I do?!
The use of cartoon greatly appealed to John. Over and over again he stated the importance of combining words with images in order to convey meaning. Working with Maggie Organ, who works primarily in the field of Christian and sacred art, they enthusiastically devised this medium as a way of giving prominence to the contemporary message of Christ. The combination of Maggie’s picture of Peter's children pleased to see Jesus: A riddle, a riddle! drawings and the everyday language and humour in the text to which people today can easily relate, has proven to be a successful mix, creating a wonderful, lively and imaginative experience of Christ’s life. The reader delights in sharing the very human scenes such as the one where John sneezes after being baptised in the cold waters of the Jordan. The great strength of this work is the ability to bring people into the presence of Christ through the small everyday foibles and trials of human beings.

picture of small fish organising against the sharks

An earlier version of some of the chapters was published in The Catholic Pictorial and stirred up a lot of interest and discussion. In another instance students from all over the world attending the Mill Hill Missionary College claimed their dramatic and analytical use of the texts and drawings greatly expanded their understanding and spirituality. They also found the whole exercise great fun.

picture of John the Baptist speaking to Jesus: What is it?In 1997, Maggie worked with William Morris on a calendar for the Centre for Marian Studies. Out of that collaboration came the idea of William helping with the cartoon project. Fr John’s death in 2002 left Maggie and William to work on the project alone. They gathered together a small group of friends, including John’s sister Kathy, to form John Medcalf Publications.


picture of Philip and NathanielFr John Lewis Medcalf (1935-2002): diocesan priest of Arundel and Brighton who worked for most of his priestly life in Peru, Nicaragua and EI Salvador.
That’s My Boy pub. Wm Collins 1984
Letters from Nicaragua pub. CIIR 1988/2002.

Founder of the Rural Libraries Project in Peru, Chair of Peru Support Group; writer and journalist. 

Maggie Organ: Fine Arts degree Brighton Polytechnic, MA Chelsea School of Art, MA in Art Psychotherapy The University of Hertfordshire. Worked part-time as an Art Psychotherapist in the NHS. Currently works as a free lance artist. Art work includes commissions from Pax Christi, The Redhill Cross, St Joseph's Church, Redhill, a Marian Calendar for the Centre for Marian Studies, and The Mystic Rose Labyrinth for St George's Chapel, St Mary de Haura Church, Shoreham-by-Sea.

picture Nathaniel, Philip and Jesus. Philip is pushing his cartWilliam Morris: Background in community living and print co-operatives. Edits and typesets books for publication. Own publications include the annual multi-faith Moonwise Calendar and Diaries. Member of a small co-op that distributes these and books about communal living. Is currently treasurer of West Cornwall Green Party.