The Church

The congregation soon outgrew the chapel so, in 1857, the building was carefully taken to pieces. Several portions were incorporated into the present building, notably a number of the windows, under the guidance of Edward Welby Pugin. The formal opening took place on 15th July 1858, the Title Feast of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer.

Since then the main lines of the church, of red sandstone, 96ft in length by 57ft in width, have remained unaltered, though a number of internal changes and additions have been made. Perhaps the most notable of these followed a fire in 1973 in which the gallery and organ and the entire roof with its honeycomb slating were destroyed: the sanctuary was re-roofed without its octagonal lantern, which previously had given much light. The marble High Altar and reredos were designed by John Francis Bentley and erected in 1865.

phoca_thumb_l_g_floorThese were separated in 1973, when the altar was brought forward and the predella was extended. The jewelled, enamelled and copper-gilt tabernacle, and the pulpit (lowered by two steps in 1980) were added in 1866, also to Bentley's design.

The chapel to the northeast of the sanctuary is now the shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour where a copy of the original icon, which hangs above the High Altar of the Church of Sant' Alfonso in Rome, was placed in 1869. The chapel had been dedicated to St. Alphonsus, who is depicted in the rose window over the altar. He is bearing a monstrance, a tribute to his devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. A fine statue of the saint stands just inside the sanctuary. The Lady Altar is flanked with a pair of silver gilt hanging lamps. These are made in galleon form. The east window of the earlier chapel, representing 'Our Lady of the Annunciation,' is now in the north wall of this chapel. The lowest panels of each light were added at the move. Two decorated statues, of Mary and Joseph, from the earlier chapel possibly, flank the window.

Other windows preserved from the Bishops' chapel are: one of St. Edward the Confessor in the first bay of the north aisle; one of St. Oswald in the opposite bay of the south aisle; and a third, of rather Moorish design, at the west end of the north wall. Beneath this there is a stone altar and reredos in honour of Our Lady of Sorrows. The altar and reredos have marble columns and the reredos has a Pieta in an arched reredos. The West window itself, by J. Kempe of London, completed in 1920, represents the Last Judgement. Like the Calvary outside, facing the gateway, it is part of a First World War memorial. A smaller window in the west wall, in memory of G.O. Sharples, shows St. George and St. Frances of Rome. The other windows of the south aisle depict the Sacred Heart and Our Lady of the Rosary. The former also shows two Redemptorists: St. Gerard Majella, known as 'The Wonder Worker' and much invoked by expectant mothers, and St. Clement Hofbauer, Patron of Vienna. These were introduced just before World War I, after the saints were canonised by St Pius X in 1904 and 1909. The former South porch is now a chapel with a wooden statue of St Gerard. The southwest window is leaded. Panelled and glazed doors beneath the south facing windows give access to three confessionals.

On the north side of the church, the third bay contains a Millennium Window - inserted in 2000 - illustrating Liverpool Church life and work, by Pendle Stained Glass of Padiham. The second panel is to be glazed with depictions of three more recent Redemptorist saints and scenes of their varied apostolates, to mark the 150th anniversary of the church, in 2008. The outermost of the five lancet windows in the apse were given simple, bordered glazing in 2007, echoing the northwestern window.

The three central lancets, partly obscured by Bentley's reredos, represent Our Holy Redeemer, Our Blessed Lady and St. Joseph. All the stained glass, other than that in the Millennium and West windows, is the work of John Hardman and Sons of Birmingham.

The decorated wood panels lining the sanctuary were taken from the earlier chapel. The raised sanctuary floor is a mixture of marble and tiling. Above the south transept is the domestic oratory of the Redemptorist community. The label stop heads between the hood mouldings of the triforium represent St. Alphonsus and

Pope Pius IX. The oratory itself contains the first copy of the Icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour to come to Britain. One further detail: on marble panels in the Lady Chapel are inscribed the names of Redemptorists who are buried in the vault beneath. Among them is Fr. Edmund Vaughan, translator of St. Alphonsus' hymns.

A. E. Hodgetts C.Ss.R

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