The Liverpool Vatican

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St Mary of the Angels Catholic Church, in Liverpool, UK, was built for the Franciscans (opened in 1910) by Amy Elizabeth Imrie, a Catholic convert and nun, who became an abbes of the Poor Clare Sisters.  She was the heiress of the White Star Shipping Line.  Known as ‘The Liverpool Vatican’ because of the imported Italian marble and its Italian Renaissance architecture.  The tow sets of doors leading into the sacristy came from a Roman palace.  Sadly, the Grade II listed church was closed in 2001.  Reopened in 2009 , it is now Liverpool Philharmonic at the Friary, a recording and rehearsal venue.

St Mary of the Angels, pray for us

1941 air raid bomb


Descent of the Holy Spirit stained glass window, Our Lady and the English Martyrs Church, Cambridge

In tune with today’s feast day of the English Martyrs and the upcoming VE Day 70th anniversary on Friday 8th May, a WWII anecdote.

In a 1941 air raid, a small bomb struck the sacristy of Our Lady and the English Martyrs Church, a large Gothic Revival church in Cambridge, UK.  The bomb blew a 6 foot hole in the roof and another in the wall of the Sacred Heart Chapel, as well as shattering most of the windows and collapsing part of the organ gallery.  The repairs cost more than £35,000.  No mean amount in 1941.

Our Lady of the English Martyrs, pray for us

St Joseph the Worker statue

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A statue of St Joseph the Worker in the sacristy of Our Lady of the Atonement Church, San Antonio, Texas, USA.  An unexpected find.

Holy Joseph, Intercessor, Unto thee God’s children sing; Be our Patron and Protector, To God’s throne our praises bring.  Faithful Spouse of faithful Virgin, Lover of God’s purity; From thy worthy place in heaven, Pray that we may faithful be.  Guardian of the Word Incarnate, Silent guide of God’s own Son; Guard our hearts and lead us onward, To the life that Christ has won.  Humble man in lofty station, God has shed His grace on thee; Pray such grace to us be given, That we live eternally.  (Text: Fr. Christopher G. Phillips, 1991 / Music: “Stuttgart” adapted by C. F. Witt, 1715)

St Joseph the Worker, pray for us

Gothic looking candelabra

On Saturday mornings we have Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament straight after morning Mass until Benediction at 11am.  We have a pair of candelabra on the altar, one  either side of the monstrance.  There’s a hairline crack in the wall over by the Lady Chapel so when it’s windy outside . . .

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It was windy last Saturday morning.  Sometimes, after less than an hour of burning, this is what happens to the candles.

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Very gothic looking.

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This is what they should like like after burning for less than an hour.

The Franciscans know how to celebrate the Easter season

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I love the season of Easter and never get tired of seeing white or gold vestments.  These three gold chasubles are currently spending more time out of the sacristy wardrobe than in.  The Franciscans (OFM) know how to celebrate the Easter season.

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The wardrobe in the sacristy of the Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception, Clevedon, Somerset, where the gold vestments usually live.

St Francis of Assisi, pray for us

Spot the flag of England on the cope

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On the Solemnity of St George, Martyr, Patron of England, a close up of the back of  one of our lovely copes.  Spot the flag of England, derived from St George’s Cross.

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On Thursdays we have Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament straight after the 9.30am Mass until Benediction at 3pm.  This one was worn to expose the Blessed Sacrament and one of our white copes ( I make it sound like we have lots – we have two) was used for Benediction at 3pm.

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The front of the cope.

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And a close up of the front of the cope.  The ‘pax’ makes sense as the church used to ‘belong’ to the Benedictines at Douai Abbey before becoming a diocesan (Clifton) parish.

St George, Patron of England, pray for us

All the silverware is ready

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Some of the silverware after it’s been cleaned.  It must be Holy Week.

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The pair of silver candelabra are for the Altar of Repose on Maundy Thursday.  Planning to do some of the brass tomorrow and the rest on Wednesday.  It’s a plan!

Ta da!

Busy covering crosses and images with acres of purple today.  Passiontide begins.

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Last year they were all packed away badly (by me) so they were a tad wrinkled when I opened the box this morning.  Ironing :(

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It didn’t take too long to make them look a bit better.

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But how did they make it in to the church?

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Ta da!


Or just read Psalm 8

sky at night

No picture of the partial eclipse of the sun from me although I did ‘see’ it this morning just after 9.30am and took a picture of it on my phone.  Mmm.  Instead, Pesello’s Celestial Hemisphere, above.  This work is painted on the ceiling of the scarsella (a small square apse), in the Old Sacristy of the Basilica of San Lorenzo, Florence, Italy.

celestial hempishere

A close up of Cancer; the Sun and Venus are visible on the ecliptic.

Let me explain.

Because the orbit of the Moon is inclined only about 5° to the ecliptic and the Sun is always very near the ecliptic, eclipses always occur on or near it.  Because of the inclination of the Moon’s orbit, eclipses do not occur at every conjunction and opposition of the Sun and Moon, but only when the Moon is near an ascending or descending node at the same time it is at conjunction or opposition.  The ecliptic is so named because the ancients noted that eclipses only occurred when the Moon crossed it.

Or just read Psalm 8.

Mission Tumacacori sacristan

Indian sacristan

A photograph of an Indian sacristan standing beside the dome of Mission Tumacacori, Arizona, USA, circa 1908.  The dome behind him has a short cylindrical bell tower, which is also topped by a dome.  The photograph is part of the California Historical Society Collection, 1860-1960.  The photographer is unknown.