ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
a. there was a balcony or choir-loft across the rear wall, adding seating for thirty or forty. (In the mid-1800s the total capacity was given as 160 seats). The balcony was removed in the 1950s when it had become structurally dangerous;
b. there was no central passage or aisle: a narrow passage ran along each side wall, and the pews (benches) stretched unbroken across the centre. Indeed, examination shows that the existing pews have been made from these longer ones simply by sawing them in half!
c. The present ceiling, much less steeply sloping than the actual roof of the church, was added in the 1950s, partly at least to reduce the volume of space needing to be heated;
d. the chancel - the narrower section behind the altar (or communion) table - was originally (as in almost all Roman Catholic churches until the 1960s) separated from the main section of the church by a rail with a central gate, with the altar-table set against the back wall (in the arrangement still to be seen in St. Marys Episcopal church at the other end of the town.) This alteration dates from the late 1960s when Roman Catholic services changed a great deal and became much more user-friendly, for example by adopting English (or Gaelic, where appropriate) in place of Latin.
e. the door to the left of the altar-table, now a cupboard, gave access to a little room known as the confessional, with a screen to give anonymity by shielding the penitent confessing sins from the confessor sitting beyond the screen and hearing confessions. Roman Catholics (including priests themselves, by the way!) still confess in this way, but much more often with both seated comfortably in a kind of interview-room without a screen, but with confidentiality assured.
a. CIRCULAR WINDOW:
this modern window, of thick glass pieces with rough-hewn surfaces set in a heavy (here, concrete) matrix, shows a dove-shape, representing the Holy Spirit, and around the circumference has the Latin words
+LARGIRE+DONA+SPIRITUS+meaning BE GENEROUS WITH THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT.
b. TALL WINDOWS:
recently restored by the specialist firm Jennifer Jane Stained Glass, these windows have their panes set in zinc frames.
this modern statue of Our Lady, kept inside the building, replaces an older and more traditional statue in plaster, which formerly stood in the niche (or "grotto") outside, but was apparently irresistible for passers-by tempted to target-practice! In earlier years there were also other statues, of other saints, inside the building.
d. STATIONS OF THE CROSS:
round three of the walls hang small framed pictures representing the fourteen scenes traditionally selected from the Gospel accounts of Christs walk to His death on Calvary Hill carrying His cross. Nearly all Roman Catholic churches have these "Stations of the Cross" (also called "The Way of the Cross") though the artistic medium may differ - mosaic, paintings, reliefs, etc.
it would be a very strange Roman Catholic church which had no crucifix - that is, no representation of Christ hanging upon the Cross. Our crucifix, however, is unusual in combining a number of aspects usually kept separate: Christ is shown on the cross but also as King (crowned) and as Priest (in the vestments worn by a Roman Catholic priest celebrating Mass). In addition, the symbols of the four Evangelists (the Gospel-writers Matthew, Mark, Luke and John ) are attached to the four extremities of the cross.
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