Mors Janua Vitea

In Liverpool’s Walker Gallery is a rather morose funerary monument to a married couple, the MacLochlins. Percy and Eliza were both atheists, though I venture their atheism died with their bodies. The panels are bereft of all Christian imagery as they contemplate the big sea of emptiness and nothingness they imagined they were going to enter. Mors Janua Vitea means 'death, the door to life', but in truth it meant no such thing for them. They thought life was no more than the doorway to death: meaningless death, preceded by a meaningless life. The couple’s faces seem to show this existential paradox; having nothing but each other, death robs them even of that. Death is cruel and avaricious, but atheism more so; it denies one a relationship with the Creator, both in this world and the one to come.