Sunday, September 30, 2012

Parish of the Sacred Heart and St. Catherine of Alexandria

On our visit to Hanbury Hall (which starts here), we went for Sunday Mass to the Parish of the Sacred Heart and St. Catherine of Alexandria in Droitwich Spa.

The front of the church

The bell tower (too bad I couldn't get it all in one shot)

The church was built between 1919 and 1921 and incorporates almost wall-to-wall mosaics. The effect is astounding and provides an amazing contrast to the simple brick exterior.

Above the sanctuary, Christ the King in Paradise

Sanctus Jacobus!

Nativity mosaic

St. Richard (c. 12th century, patron of Driotwich)  blessing the local springs

Mosaic are made up of small pieces of Venetian glass called "tesserae" that bring a luminous quality to the work. The church really needs to be visited to appreciate the wonder. It reminds me of the churches in Venice and of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC. If we hadn't been at Sacred Heart for Mass with a subsequent Mass pending, we would have spent a lot more time here (and taken many more pictures).

Who was St. Catherine of Alexandria?

Born in the early 300s, Catherine of Alexandria came from a well-to-do pagan family and was well educated. She converted to the Christian faith in her teenage years. She denounced the Roman Emperor Maxentius's persecution of Christians. The emperor had a succession of scholars and rhetoricians try to persuade her away from the faith. She converted them all. The emperor executed them all. He proposed marriage to her but she claimed she was a bride of Christ, and thus refused. Eventually he condemned her to death. She was to die on a spiked wheel but it broke. She was subsequently beheaded. 

She was highly venerated in the middle ages as a virgin martyr. Joan of Arc identified St. Catherine as one of the saints who appeared to her and counseled her.

Her feast day is November 25.

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