Whalley's Martial Flower Stand

In Whalley’s parish church is a rather curious stone object. It was once an altar to the Roman god Mars, whose remit was war and, occasionally, grain production. Probably erected by some second-century legionary-cum-farmer to persuade the great deity to bless his first crop or to give thanks for keeping him safe from the Brigantian tribesmen whose fields he had pinched, the little altar now sits peacefully at the side of the church, employed as a stand to hold vases of flowers.

It seems remarkable that the once fierce god of war idolised by an aggressive, conquering empire should now provide a flower stand in a village church. False gods are always emasculated and exposed by the one true God. Dagon fell before His ark; the gods of Egypt were rendered helpless by His plagues; Baal’s prophets were silenced and Aaron’s golden calf ground to dust. The mighty son of Jupiter whose armies enslaved on three continents is now a rather tame flower boy. 

For the Lord had brought judgment on their gods. Numbers 33:4b

Who among the gods is like you, Lord? Who is like you— majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? Exodus 15:11
Look, here comes a man in a chariot with a team of horses. And he gives back the answer: ‘Babylon has fallen, has fallen! All the images of its gods lie shattered on the ground!’ Isaiah 21:9 (all NKJV)