A Tour of the Interior
The Baptistery is located close to the entrance to the church; it is a constant reminder of the Sacrament through which we enter the Church community and become a member of God's family. On entering the church, recalling their own baptism, Catholics dip their right hands in the water and make the Sign of the Cross. The Font, made of Ancaster stone, is octagonal in shape following an ancient custom of the Church. Its eight sides represent the seven days of the first Creation story in the book of Genesis (the six days of creative activity and the seventh day on which God rested) and the eighth side representing the day of re-creation - the day of the resurrection of Christ.
At the Font we are re-created as children of God; we die with Christ and rise with him to new life. The stone base is made of polished German limestone. The copper bowl was commissioned for our parish from the artist and coppersmith Sian Evans. It includes wave-like patterns symbolising the waters of baptism and three ancient Christian symbols:
- the ichthus (Greek for 'fish') a brief statement of belief in the form of an acronym which translates: "Jesus Christ, God's Son, Saviour";
- the Chi-Rho - the first two Greek letters (X and P) of the word 'Christ';
- the Celtic Cross - the Sun with a cross superimposed over it.
Standing nearby throughout the year is the great Easter Candle - the sign of the Risen Christ in whose light and life the baptised share. During the Easter season, according to an ancient tradition, the candle stands close to the ambo.
To the left of the entrance is the staircase leading to the Choir and Organ Gallery. The organ was built in 1983 by Schumacher of Belgium.
Beyond the staircase is the door leading to the Chapel of Reconciliation. This room, which was originally the Baptistery, was remodelled to enable the Sacrament of Forgiveness and Reconciliation to be celebrated in accordance with the demands of the restored rite. A simple curtain provides anonymity for those who wish and there are chairs for any who prefer more personal spiritual counselling and guidance.
The stained-glass window depicts the Cross, through which Jesus won our reconciliation, and a priest’s stole. In this chapel there is also a copy of Rembrandt's Prodigal Son - a reminder of God's unconditional love for us all.
In the Aisle are two confessionals (now disused) and the Sacristies. At the back of the church are two small stained-glass windows symbolising the sacraments of baptism and confirmation. The six large windows show St Francis of Assisi, St Clare of Assisi, The Good Shepherd, St Michael the Archangel, St Teresa of Avila and St Anne Line. Near the Sacristy are another two small windows which depict the Infant Jesus of Prague and St Mark the Evangelist.
Moving across to the centre of the church we come to the Sanctuary. Here the community gathers to celebrate the sacraments of the church and especially to share in the eucharistic meal. The Sanctuary has been re-ordered in accordance with the norms laid down in the current Missale Romanum and our own, more local, custom.
The Crucifix on the reredos wall was originally in the temporary Sanctuary in what is now the Parish Hall.
The Chair, flanked by two for assisting deacons or priests, is positioned in a way
In the centre is the Altar Table, made of Carrara marble; it is both an altar of sacrifice and a meal table; its design tries to convey both these meanings. Altars, following the ancient tradition of the Church, are usually built over the burial place of the saints; our altar honours two early Roman martyrs, Clement and Rufina, whose relics are here.
To the right of the Sanctuary is the Tabernacle, which houses the Blessed Sacrament. Here the Lord, present in his Body, the Bread of the Eucharist, dwells in our midst. A white Sanctuary Lamp burns in honour of this abiding presence.
Also on the right of the Sanctuary is the Olearium, in which are kept the Holy Oils. These oils, consecrated or blessed by the bishop at the Mass of Chrism, deserve the reverence and special care of the communities to which they have been entrusted. There are three Oils - the consecrated Oil of Chrism used for initiation, ordination, and the dedication of churches, and the blessed Oils of the Sick and of Catechumens,
which indicates that the celebrant presides over the assembly “in the person of Christ”.
On the left-hand side of the Sanctuary is the Ambo, the place from which the Word of God is proclaimed.
The Chapel of Our Lady houses the polished hardwood altar originally made for use in the temporary Sanctuary in the Parish Hall. Above it, set upon a corbel, is the Statue of Our Lady of Lourdes which is carved out of unpolished marble. Here it is possible to spend some time in quiet prayer, to ask Our Lady to join us in prayer and to leave a candle burning as a sign of prayer offered. The four stained-glass windows represent mysteries in the life of Our Lady: her Immaculate Conception, Assumption, Visitation and the Nativity of the Lord.
In the Aisle are a further four stained-glass windows which show: St Patrick, St Joseph, The Holy Family and the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Two small windows at the back of the church are in honour of the Eucharist: the Body and Blood of Christ.
Below these windows there is a shrine with the Icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
Around the walls of the main body of the church are the fourteen Stations which make up the Way of the Cross. The majority of these are taken from the Scriptures; others are pious tradition. They tell the story of Christ’s last steps -
from Pilate’s Judgement Hall to his burial in the Garden. It is customary for Catholics to follow this journey, especially during Lent, reciting prayers and meditating on the Passion of the Lord.
On the walls of the Aisles are the twelve Consecration Crosses and Candles. These mark the places where, during the Rite of Dedication, the walls of the church were sprinkled with Holy Water, anointed with the Oil of Chrism and then incensed.
In the Narthex there is an Ethiopian Icon of the Virgin and Child painted on goat skin. This icon was presented to the parish by the late Father Hugh Toninello MCCJ on 6 December 1987. It is a gift from the people of Ethiopia in gratitude for the generous help this community gave them during the terrible famine there.