Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Mass at the Holy Name, Manchester

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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.
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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.
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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.
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Fr Matus has developed the church in a number of ways. He has created a chapel dedicated to Bl J.H. Newman.
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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.
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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.
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Fr Matus himself said the Mass I attended.
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There are more photographs of the church and of Mass here.


  1. xmushtak5:12 pm

    What a beautiful church.  It is quite stunning and the congregation must be very proud of it.

    Kind regards

    Henry Ledger

  2. Et Expecto2:29 pm

    Perhaps one should clarify that the architect is Joseph Aloysius Hansom, the most famous member of the Hansom family which included srveral distinguished architects.  His first great achievement was Birmingham Town Hall, before going on to design the Hansom Cab.  Other great churches that he is responsible for are St Walburga's in preston and what is now the Cathedral in Arundel.  Besides these are numerous smaller churches, including my own parish church, the Sacred Heart in Howden.

    I had not noticed before the shingled "roof" to the tester of the pulpit, an attractive detail.  It closely resembles the spirelet on the church at Howden.

  3. There is another priest who celebrates the EF Mass there, Father Christopher Hilton.  There is now a stable community of Oratorians at Holy Name and application has been made to Rome for Holt Name to be granted full status as an Oratory.  The OF Sunday Mass is also sung and celebrated partly in Latin.