OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY AND ST THÉRÈSE OF LISIEUX

 
Stained Glass Windows, Our Lady of the Rosary Church
 

 

PARISH HISTORY V

The First Twenty Five Years

'Where we came from so that we might better know where we ought to go.'

After all this, calm descended once more and continued thus until 1952, when in January the coat of arms of the Marist Brothers was restored. This was followed in March by what the people had long been waiting for; the grime of the bombing disappeared with the completion of the mosaic decoration of the Altars of the Sacred Heart and Our Lady of the Rosary together with that of the East and West Transepts. One other event has to be recorded as noteworthy for 1952, Fr Peyton, the great leader of the Rosary Crusade, paid a private visit to the Church and recited the Rosary at Our Lady's Altar along with Fr Power.

Again there came a pause of two years until the Marian Year. Two lovely mosaic plaques so appropriate for the Church, that of St Pius V, the Pope of the Rosary, and that of St Pius X, the Pope of the children, both of whom signify so much the work that had been done for the Parish, were set on the Epistle and Gospel columns of the Sanctuary.

 

The High Altar

The High Altar is supported by four pillars of green Alpine Marble and the antipendium which is of white beautifully sculptured Marble depicts the Lamb resting on the Book sealed with seven seals.

"Thou are worthy O Lord, to take the book,
and to open the seals thereof, because Thou
wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God,
in Thy blood, out of every tribe, and tongue,
and people, and nation"


The Story of the Dove

On the evening of June 23rd 1933 as the Blessed Sacrament was being carried in, a dove flew through the central doors and nestled on the pillar at the Epistle side of the Sanctuary. Despite repeatedly vain attempts to capture and remove it, it eluded all efforts and settled again on it's perch. The would-be captors were obliged to allow it to remain in the Church all night. Still there in the morning it remained until immediately after the Consecration of the first Mass when it took wing and flew out of the Church. This event explains the reason for the presence of the model dove on that particular pillar.

Masterpiece in Mosaic

Incredible though it may seem, it is estimated that over a million and a quarter pieces of Venetian Mosaic were used in the completion of this exquisite piece of work. Nearly 30 feet up the Transept walls in a border of Wedgwood Blue is a frieze containing the last words of our St Thérèse in letters a foot high in Venetian red and gold mosaic - "I will let fall a shower of roses"

Our Lady's Altar

In this Altar is set the Foundation Stone of the Church, laid on April 4th 1932 - the Feast of the Annunciation (transferred) by Archbishop Williams. It was brought from the very house of Our Lord at Nazareth and has been a silent witness of the Annunciation and all Our Lord's hidden life. The grill, which covers the stone, is opened on the Feast so that all may touch it in devotional respect. Behind the presence of this rare possession, hangs one of the most fascinating stories of our beginning here.

Permission

The Franciscan Guardian of Nazareth who was the immediate Superior of the Church of the Annunciation in which are the foundations of the Holy House; and finally the Head of the Mohammedan Religion, the Mufti of Jerusalem famous in the political history of the last war, all had to be approached. In the meantime Fr Power had to come to Birmingham from Glasgow, and was at the 'Hut' in Saltley when, on the morning of October 3rd 1931, the long sought stone finally arrived in time for the Parish's own Feast Day.

The motif of the mosaic in the re-built walls is the Rosary round the world with the body of the Cross over our two islands; the right arm resting on Knock, Ireland; the left on Carfin, Scotland; and the foot in Walsingham. The whole is set in wreaths and sprays of lilies and red roses and is much loved and admired by the people. The marbles are the same as the other Altars with the centerpiece B.V.M. being inlaid in concentric marbles.

St Thérèse Altar

On June 8th 1934, the day on which our Church and Altars were Consecrated, it was surely more than a coincidence that the Altar of St Thérèse should have been Consecrated by Archbishop Goodier, Archbishop of Bombay. He had a personal deep trust in the intercession of St Thérèse.

Fr Power's friendship with the Sisters of St Thérèse extended over fifty years. Amongst his treasured possessions were personal letters, and a set of white Vestments made by Sister Genevieve (Celine). The statue of the Saint was given by Mother Agnes of Jesus (Pauline) to the Parish Priest in 1930, together with many valuable Relics of the Little Flower.

The beautiful porcelain rose, set in the wall, is in memory of a little child, John Bowker, killed in a motor accident in 1950, and the Consecration crosses on this transept are framed in the wild flowers Little Thérèse loved - cornflowers, wild rose, poppies and daisies in exquisitely minute pieces of mosaic.

In detailing all that has been done for the Parish in those first 25 years it has been natural to grant most prominence to the actual building programme because it is so outstanding. But tremendous as it is, one must not be blinded by it, there are other aspects much more important than any building, no matter how beautiful. Of what value could be all this without the soul to animate it, the people to support it and give it the breath of life.



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latest update: 25/1/04