Thursday, April 9

1890: The Sacred Heart Altar

On this day in 1890 the Cathedral's Sacred Heart altar was consecrated. Canon Billington gives us some details: "The altar, which was not part of the original design of the church, was given anonymously, in fulfilment of a vow, and was consecrated by Bishop O'Reilly on April 9, 1890. The table is of Sicilian marble, and contains relics of Ss. Irenaeus and Justin. The centre of the reredos is occupied by a statue of our Lord crowned and showing His Heart; it is carved in white Carrara marble and stands under a tall canopied niche. The side niches are occupied by statues of Ss. Catherine of Alexandria, Margaret of Scotland, Helen, and Frances of Rome... the designer was Mr. Edward Simpson of Bradford."

This old picture shows the St Charles Borromeo altar a short distance away. The Sacred Heart altar stands in the transept, beyond the right edge of this picture. What can be seen, however, is a screen which used to stand around the altar, allowing it to form a separate chapel. The screen was removed (seemingly sometime in the 1970s) though marks where it stood can still be seen today. Canon Billington tells us: "The stone arcading which forms a screen for the altar on the north side was designed by Mr. P. P. Pugin, and was placed there in 1896. The interior arcading on the south wall, the altar steps, &c., were added in 1899 from a design by Messrs. Austin and Paley. The total cost was £530."