Thursday, 21 August 2008

A Not So Ordinary Day.

The West Window.

The St Joseph Altar.

Pulpit and altar rails. This Church almost shut a few years ago, thus is the decline of the faith even in bastions like Liverpool.

The Sacred Heart and one of the vestments.

The nave altar. Whatever ones thoughts on these things, this one seems unusually small for such a grand building and it jars in the eye as one enters.

The nave.

A fine St Ignatius.

The Lady Chapel.

Our Lady of Liverpool, I think someone said.

Enjoying the second and last week of my summer break, yesterday I went to Scarisbrick to Ormsby's ecclesiastical showroom where I was very taken with a baroque chalice which needs restoration. Driving from there, I went to Liverpool to see the 'Held in Trust' exhibition of artefacts from the extensive collection which the British Province of the Society of Jesus hold. This was in the 'SFX' or Church of Saint Francis Xavier. My blood chilled as I drove through the city centre for as local readers will know Liverpool is the worst served city in the country for driving, with byzantine road systems and unmarked thoroughfares. I stopped four people to ask them where I was, two looked, jaw permanently open, dribble slowly descending, unwillingly onto the filthy pavements below. One kind gentleman who had just used his trousers for a task which, by reason of their lack of waterproofing, they were clearly inadequate, told me to **** off and the last one had a tracksuit on so I just drove by. It is, though, a beautiful city, just very, very hard to locate!

Eventually, thanks to the kindness of a native lady, I was able to find the Church. I have no pictures of the outside as it was impossible to get one due to the chance of being knifed, so I scuttled in to this sudden gem, a place of beauty filled, for the next few weeks, with even more beautiful things than usual. I will put pictures on of the exhibition some other time (soon, be not alarmed, gentle reader) but for now here are some pictures of the inside of the building, showing the majesty of the place and, in my opinion, the visual inadequacy of the nave altar. Bah, humbug!

If I can say without sounding priggish, that I am used to the things on exhibition, as I have been around them for years and seen them being used many times, I have read the books and been surrounded by the artefacts, then so much the better, but I was still struck by the beauty of them under the lights in cases and on display around the altars. For me, the most beautiful things were the sets of vestments which I have not seen before, which alas are not in the catalogue which one buys from the doorman. I took a friend who has not seen any of these things before, however and it is clear that the vestments, in particular, have lost none of their ability to impress. If you can, go.

After this we went on another frustrating drive around the byways of Liverpool to look for Carraras Statue Factory, eventually found in an unmarked domestic villa house on a back street. Carraras are famous up and down the country for their excellent restoration work and production of new statues at very reasonable prices. Afterwards, I went home and then to visit a lady about a poltergeist she thought she had and then I found a little out about a curacy for next year and then I went to the Trackside real ale bar in Bury which has, since my last visit some months ago, rather lost the plot.