Thursday, 29 August 2013

London Churches 7 - St. Mary Moorfields

Entrance to the church

St. Mary Moorfields is the only Catholic Church which actually lies within the boudaries of the Square Mile of the City of London. The modest entrance, set among a row of shops close to Liverpool Street Station, hides a most magnificent interior.

Church Interior

The following history is taken from the parish website:

The roots of the parish of St Mary Moorfields go back to several chapels that sprang up in the area in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Catholic worship in those days was illegal.
The chapels were known locally as ‘Penny Hotels’, as people had to pay a penny to a man behind a grill in the door before they were allowed in.
These were hard times for Catholics. In 1736, for example, the Gordon Rioters attacked the chapel in Ropemakers Alley, ripping out its altar, fittings and crucifixes. Following the Catholic Relief Act of 1791, Catholics were permitted to worship in public. And in 1820 the first church of St Mary Moorfields opened in Finsbury Circus. As the permanent seat of the Vicar Apostolic, it served as Cardinal Wiseman's pro-cathedral from 1850 to 1869.
The church was pulled down in 1899 and replaced by the present church in Eldon Street, which was opened on 25th March 1903. The architect was George Sherrin, who also designed the dome of the London Oratory as well as several Underground stations.
The Sanctuary
 Perhaps the most striking features of this beautiful church are the classical columns framing the Sanctuary, and the High Altar, modelled in the form of a sarcophagus to recall the ancient practice of celebrating Mass on the tombs of martyr-saints in the catacombs of Rome (the reason why Saints' relics are enclosed in, and sometimes also placed upon, the altars of Catholic Churches).

The High Altar on Good Friday

St. Mary Moorfields has, in recent years, become another church supportive of the Usus Antquior Mass, thanks largely to the help of the current Parish Priest, Canon Peter Newby.

Canon Newby

 For several years now, the church has hosted the Latin Mass Society's Holy Week liturgies, which were previously held at Maiden Lane.

Easter Vigil 2011, with some familiar faces

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis.

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