The Roman Catholic Church that was visited was built in 1932 and was of a typical style of many buildings built at that time: it was red brick but with bigger grey stone ‘bricks’ at the vertices but what perhaps distinguishes its significance than to any other building, apart from its shape, were the elaborations and the lavish decorations on the south side of the church (the side from which we entered the church). There were grey stone pillars of a Corinthian nature supporting a large triangular slab similar to that of the end of the Parthenon in Athens but with a cross carved upon the centre.
Above this triangle, embellished with small carved stone pillars (one either side), there was an image of the monstrance which holds the Blessed Sacrament during Mass. The monstrance was labelled in the centre with the letters “IHS” but the meaning of this will be described later.
Once inside the church there were two sets of stoups, one on the where we came in and one on a another entrance made of a rusty coloured marble jutting out of a slight alcove and a rectangular glass dish.
These “stoups” contained holy water (consecrated water that would be used in baptism and confirmation) which you would dip your hand into and make the sign of the cross across your body.
Ahead of the entrance and past the stoups there was the font which was spherical and the main body was made of a brown shade of marble and stood on a dark brown marble plinth. The font stood on five small marble pillars, one central one and four around the outside, the central one was of the same colour as the rest of the font but the other four were of black marble. All these miniature pillars rested on a circular base the same colour as the main body of the font and made of marble. On top of the font which stood about four foot high was a brass with handles to make lifting the lid more easily achieved.
Altar, Tabernacle, Monstrance and Pews:
The church, which like most was elongated from west to east, had quite dark wooden pews along the centre with an isle about five feet wide. At the end of the isle there was the altar which was housed under a plaster cast dome supported by seven pillars which were between about nine and ten feet high. The sanctuary area was separated from the rest of the church by this dome, known as the Cupola which had a jade green underside. On the altar was a large solid block and on the front there were carved into five pillars and four arches. On top of the altar at the front there was the monstrance which was a just over a foot high gold finished very ornate cross. In the centre of it where the lines of the crucifix converge it bore the letters “IHS”. Where it bore these letters there was a spherical bulge in the monstrance and on the back in this same place in relation to the cross there was a small door which when opened reveals a hollow: this was where the Blessed Sacrament was kept (in this case the bread) for the communion during a service (mass). Beneath the monstrance there was a reliquary: this is where the bones of a Saint were kept. Beyond the monstrance and the main altar was the tabernacle which was exalted on higher separate altar.
The tabernacle was a rectangular brass safe with a small dome on top that contained the Blessed Sacrament (i.e. the bread – the wine was kept in the vestry). The bread was in a cyborian bowl which was quite a sizable deep bowl so to be able to handle the Eucharist on Sundays and other large masses. This bowl usually has to ‘cater’ for about four hundred and fifty maximum. During the week though a smaller and flatter bowl used was called the pattern, this bowl was used as there are a lot less people who go to church at this time because they are at work. The Tabernacle was about one and a half feet tall and almost one foot wide and there was a white piece of cloth hanging over the front of it with a red cross embroidered into it and behind this cloth there was an image of the monstrance. The Blessed Sacrament is usually not consumed totally during mass so to leave some for the sick which receive the sacrament from the priest who visits them in their own homes because they are not able to go to the service. This whole area (the altar and Cupola) which was set in an alcove is lit up by a sanctuary light to the left side of the altar and Cupola.
The sanctuary light:
The sanctuary light was supported by an ornate brass ‘holder’ with a column of red glass, open at the top: a candle is placed into this.
The lectern which stood on the right and side in front of the pews also doubled as a pulpit because there was no need to be placed high up to read in a church of this shape and size but there was a microphone so that the entire congregation can make out what the priest or reader was saying. The actual desk itself was made of white stone with three inlayed sections on the front: the central one was of a beige marble with a cross engraved upon it and the two either side were of black marble. It was one and a half metres tall, one metre wide and half a metre deep. The microphone was situated on the top right hand side of the desk.
Statue of the Virgin Mary and the Votive candles:
The statue of the Virgin Mary was set in quite a large recess (over four feet) and was made of pure white marble. It stood on a plinth a couple of feet off the ground and the actual statue was about three feet tall. In Mary’s left hand was a sceptre and in her right there was a baby Jesus. Jesus was holding an orb in his left hand and with his right hand, palm facing outwards, he was making the sign of the blessing. Behind the statue there was a modern multicoloured stained glass window.
In front of the statue of the Virgin Mary there were the Votive Candles which were in four rows of increasing height on a stand about three feet high at its highest point. The candles themselves were about eight centimetres tall and just over one centimetre in diameter. To the left of the stand there was a place to put your money into if you were going to light a candle and beneath the stand there was a candle box which contained the candles ready to light.
The crucifix (of Jesus) stood foot tall in a small recess about three and a half feet above the floor. Jesus’ hands and feet were dripping with blood where they were nailed to the cross. There was a nail through each hand and the feet were nailed together to the cross with a single nail. On Jesus’ head there was more blood dripping from under the crown of thorns and his knees were bruised and bloody as a result of
his succumbing to the weight of his cross while he was carrying it and falling. There was also gash in his side with blood coming from out of it and around waist there was a small amount of dirty white cloth. On the top of the crucifix on a plaque there were the letters: “INRI”.
The confessional stood about six and a half feet tall and about eight feet wide with a semi circular carving above the front of it with the words: “Whose sins you shall forgive. They are forgiven them” inscribed below it. The confessional was divided into two compartments of equal size by a piece of wall of plaster in the middle. The confessor would be in the right hand side compartment where there was a kneeler with an imitation red leather cushion where the confessor would kneel during the confession and hanging half way up the wall there was a very small crucifix (three and a half inches high and two inches wide). The priest would be in the left hand side compartment where there was a medium toned wooden armchair with a two and a half inch thick sapphire blue cushion and next to the chair there was a red band of material: three inches wide and between nine and ten feet long. This would be worn during the confession by the priest around his/her neck and would drop down to their knees. So the priest and the confessor can converse there was a small (one foot by one foot) hole in the wall between them with a grill in it.
Statue of Saint Peter:
The statue of Saint Peter was made of stone and stood a total of five feet in height. The statue stood on plinth which was two feet high and the statue itself was three foot tall. St. Peter was simply dressed in a plain robe and cloak. In his hand there was book, from his waist band there were hung two keys down on his left (our right (!)) and he was tilting his countenance upwards.
Statue of Saint Joseph:
The statue of Saint Joseph free standing and stood four feet high on a plinth about two and a half feet in height. The statue was made of stone but it was painted in colour. St. Joseph wore a blue robe and a long green cloak of which its outside edge was depicted as being embroidered with gold thread. In his right hand there were a few lilies and in his right was a baby Jesus clothed in a white gown and is hair was of a brown not dissimilar to that of the golden wheat in the summer but a little more dark.
The Fourteen Stations of the Cross:
The fourteen Stations of the Cross were placed around the church in an even fashion: there were six on either side of the church (north and south) and two at the back (west) of the church. They were all were situated five feet off the ground, two feet wide and two feet deep. They depicted the trial of Jesus right up to his burial. These images were carved in three dimensions out of what appeared to be wood. The actual depiction only took up half the height: the half below was carved out of wood of a mahogany hue and tapered down ornately to the number of that Station of the Cross. The first station of the cross depicted Pontius Pilate washing his hands of Jesus (Mark chapter seven, verse eleven) and handing him over to the Jewish guards to be lead away. The guard depicted held a deep scarlet flag with the letters: “SPQR”,
embroidered on to it. The final (fourteenth) Station of the Cross showed Jesus, wearing a white gown, in the process of being buried.
Statue of Theresa of Lisieux:
The statue of Theresa of Lisieux was freestanding, made out of painted stone and stood six feet high in total. The statue stood on a plinth which was two feet high and the actual statue was four feet tall. She was a (Carmelite) nun so she was wearing a ‘habit’ and gown and her face was that of a young woman. In her right hand she held three flowers that resembled roses, each of a different colour: one red, one yellow and one white. In her left hand she held a wooden cross about seven inches high and about four inches wide from tip to tip of the edges of the ‘wings’.
Statue of Jesus of the Sacred Heart:
The statue of Jesus of the sacred heart was made of painted stone and free stood about four feet off the ground. The actual statue was around about three and a half feet tall. Jesus was portrayed as being young, he had a beard and shoulder length hair and he had a golden halo around his head. He was wearing a long white robe with a gold regal looking cloak on top of it and there were holes in his hands and feet. Perhaps the most quickly perceptible point of the statue was the ‘sacred heart’: on the buckle which kept his cloak on, which was across his chest, was a human sized heart (in ratio). This heart was shaded red in the top half and gradually traversed to a bright shade of metallic gold in the bottom half.
The ‘Second Altar’:
At the back of the church there was a second altar which was only ever used once a year on Good Friday. This altar was made of white stone; it stood three and a half feet high, five foot wide and three feet deep. Two thirds of the way back in the centre there was another tabernacle that was made of stone and again, on a rectangular brass sheet that covers the front of it, there was an image of the monstrance. Beneath this second tabernacle there was a reliquary: again containing the bones of a Saint.
Thomas Robbins M5D: R.S. Coursework Essay: Describe the main features of the Roman Catholic Church and its furnishings (section A).
Cite this essay
The Roman Catholic Church. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/roman-catholic-church-new-essay