Saturday, April 12, 2014

St. Walburge's Catholic Church, Preston

From the UK Catholic Herald newspaper site comes good news for an endangered historical church:

Bishop Michael Campbell of Lancaster announced on Sunday that Mgr Gilles Wach, General Prior of the institute [of Christ the King Sovereign Priest], together with parish priest Fr Simon Hawksworth, have agreed to establish a foundation of the Institute at the Church of St Walburge, Preston, in the early autumn.

Bishop Campbell said that the arrival of the institute meant that the church will now be open every day with Eucharistic adoration and devotion.

Masses will be celebrated in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms.

My husband and I have attended Sunday Mass at Old St. Patrick's Oratory in Kansas City, Missouri, so we have seen the results of a revival and restoration of a beautiful church, with a young and growing congregation, led by the Institute and, of course, the parishioners.

St. Walburge's, named in honor of St. Walpurga, an 8th century Saxon princess, abbess, and saint, was built in the mid-19th century during the Catholic revival in England after Emancipation. Begun in 1850--the year of the restoration of the Catholic hierarchy by Pope Pius IX--it was designed by Joseph Hansom and dedicated in 1854. Its spire is the third tallest in England and is the tallest parish church spire (as opposed to a cathedral, like Salisbury and Norwich, the first and second tallest!). 

It was designed by Joseph Hansom, Gothic revival architect and inventor of the Hansom cab. Hansom designed over 200 buildings in England and Wales, including Arundel Cathedral in West Sussex, St. John's Cathedral in Portsmouth, St. Beuno's Jesuit College in Wales, and St. Aloysius in Oxford (now the Oxford Oratory). He worked both A.W Pugin and Pugin's son Edward Welby (though he and the latter dissolved their partnership unhappily). 

It's great to see such an historic building not just preserved, but used for its glorious purpose of worship and praise--besides the celebration of Mass in the Ordinary and Extraordinary Form, St. Walburge's will be a shrine of Eucharistic Adoration!

Image credit: Wikipedia commons.

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