Sunday, November 2, 2014

Bar Convent Chapel, York

When Bar Convent was rebuilt in the 1760s, practicing the Catholic faith was still illegal in England. Thus the chapel was hidden from view and many of its features kept things covert. Inside the chapel is a lovely dome that is not visible from outside. The roof is high enough that pedestrians can't see it.

Bar Convent outside

Classical dome inside

The chapel has eight exits, allowing the congregation to scatter when a raid happened. The floor includes a priest hole where the celebrant could hide.


Priest hole

The main altar was rebuilt in 1969 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the chapel and to accommodate the new style of Mass after Vatican II. From the original altar are the Pelican in her Piety (a statue showing a pelican feeding her young with her own blood, a simile to Christ's sacrifice) and the angelic heads.

Main altar

Pelican in her Piety

Above the altar are painted wooden figures of St. Jerome, Pope St. Gregory the Great, St. Augustine of Hippo, and St. Ambrose of Milan.

Four fathers of the church

A reliquary by the main altar has the hand of St. Margaret Clitherow, who was killed in 1586 for being Catholic. She had sheltered priests in her house and Mass was said there frequently. She was executed by putting a door on top of her and then 800 pounds of weights on top of the door, crushing her to death. Her body was thrown away by the authorities and recovered a week later by a Catholic. The hand was originally in the chapel's altar. In 1874 a special case was made for it.

Reliquary with St. Margaret Clitherow's hand

Statue of Margaret

The stations of the cross are from the early 1800s, crafted from mother of pearl in the Holy Land.

Stations of the Cross (click to enlarge)

The chapel also has some fine statues.

St. Michael the Archangel

St. Sebastian

St. Margaret

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