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Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Mass at the Holy Name, Manchester
I have just returned from a trip to Manchester, where I attended the regular Sunday Low Mass (EF) in one of the great Catholic churches of England, the Holy Name.
Twenty years ago, after the Jesuits left it, the Holy Name was saved from secular uses, if not destruction, by Fr Ray Matus. Since then he has systematically restored the fabric of the building and built up a valuable apostolate. One of the things he has long had is a regular Sunday Traditional Mass, at 4pm.
The building is stunning. The site is almost square and the church is immensly wide. The vast roof is upheld by impossibly slender columns: Hanson, the architect, performed this feat by making the ceiling out of hollow ceramic tubes. There are a large number of side chapels and a long row of confessionals. At its peak there were a dozen priests serving the church.
Fr Matus has developed the church in a number of ways. He has created a chapel dedicated to Bl J.H. Newman.
The church has one of the extremely rare first-class relics of Newman, a lock of hair, which is now housed in a reliquary bust made for the purpose.
He was given the almost complete skeleton of an early Roman martyr, and has into a space intended for such a purpose: it is St Benignus. A bust of the saint has been created scientifically on the basis of the dimensions of his skull: a fascinating glimpose of what a saint who died under Diocletian actually looked like.
Fr Matus himself said the Mass I attended.
There are more photographs of the church and of Mass here.