Sunday, December 22, 2013

St. Robert's Catholic Church, Harrogate, England

The Church of Our Lady Immaculate and St. Robert is commonly known as St. Robert's, a much easier and less long-winded name. It is named after St. Robert of Knaresborough, more about him below. The church was constructed in the 1860s and 1870s and dedicated on 5 June 1873. The style follows the Gothic revival popular at the time.

St. Robert's Church and rectory

Other side of the church

Over the front door

The nave of the church is fairly simple and the sanctuary is beautiful, with an altar rail and a striking crucifix above.



Fancy crucifix

The main altar is flanked by two altars, one to St. Joseph on the left and another to the Sacred Heart on the right.

St. Joseph altar

Sacred Heart altar

As with many English churches (both Anglican and Catholic) there is a special chapel dedicated to Our Lady. This chapel is located halfway down the right side of the church and is quite bright and ornate.

The Lady Chapel

Altar detail (click to enlarge)

Just outside is an icon of the Our Lady.

Madonna and Child Icon

The church has some very impressive stained glass windows with some interesting scenes though no main theme runs through them. There's a mixture of saints and bible scenes.

The Good Shepherd

Sts. Philip Neri and Cecila

Detail from St. Cecelia, patron of musicians!

The Holy Family at work!

The stations of the cross are also noteworthy. The fine bas relief work is recessed into the wall a few inches, providing a frame and bringing out the depth a bit more.

First Station: Jesus is Condemned to Death

The advent wreath is up. As I post, it's the Fourth Sunday of Advent in 2013, so it's not Christmas just yet! I'm not sure when they started putting white candles in the middle of the wreath for Christmas Day, but I think it is a nice addition.

Advent Wreath

The church has a fine painting of St. Robert in the back.

St. Robert of Knaresborough

Who was St. Robert of Knaresborough?
Robert Flower was born in 1160, son of the mayor of York. Soon he became a novice at the Cistercian abbey in Newminster. He felt called to a life a solitude and joined a knight/monk who lived in a cave by the River Nidd in Knaresborough. The knight soon left and Robert spent his time ministering to the poor and destitute. He kept a small farm to support himself. Legend has it he complained to William de Stutville (constable of nearby Knaresborough Castle) that the king's deer were eating his crops. William mocking offered Robert the deer if he could catch them. Robert led the deer to his barn as if they were sheep and soon put them to use pulling his plow! People admired Robert's piety and charity and began to give gifts, seek his counsel, and join his work. He formed a small community of Trinitarian Friars at his cave on the River Nidd. Robert died on 24 September 1218 and asked the monks to keep his body from being moved to Fountains Abbey, the large nearby Cistercian abbey where many holy men were buried. The cave where he was buried was a site of pilgrimage for many years thereafter.

Robert was never officially canonized but is considered an outstanding saint of the early 1200s. His feast is celebrated on September 24.

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