[From Manx Quarterly #8 April 1910]


Described by the Very Rev, Dean Crookall, Rector of St. Mary's, Douglas,

Christmas Eve last witnessed a splendid function in St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church, Douglas.

The ordinary midnight service is very impressive, but on this occasion it was enhanced by the addition to the sanctuary or a new high altar. The altar is the gift of a member of St. Mary's congregation — of one who is greatly esteemed for his staunch and loyal devotion to his Church and Faith, as well as for his interest and zeal in public matters. It was presented to commemorate the jubilee of the church, for St. Mary's counts the present year as the fiftieth since her opening. The altar, which has been designed by Mr G. Gilbert Scott, of London, may be described as a free interpretation of the late Gothic manner, and from the marble steps to the summit is an exquisite piece of work. The steps at the base of the altar are of white and bird's eye fessil marble, the pure white being striped here and there with lines of black.

The altar frontal and the gradus— that is, the step above the table of the altar on which the candlesticks stand— are of Verde di Prato marble, whilst the altar table itself is a fine slab of white marble.

At each end of the front or ante-pendium of the altar is an angel, carved in the same material, holding a scroll that runs the full length of the antepondium, on which are inscribed these words:— " Sic non potuistis un a hors vigilate mecum"— " Could you not watch one hour with me."

Corbelled courses project from the tern gable wall, and form a support r a large sculptured triptych, which is coloured and gilded; these are of ert Modena marble.

The carved portions of the triptych are mahogany.

There are eight sculptured panels in all, making up the triptych; in each panel a Saint.

In the left wing— that is on the Gospel side, are Sts Patrick, St. Maughold, St. Andrew, and St. Aloysius; in the right wing, that is on the Epistle side, are St. Michael, St. German, St. Lonan, and St. Thomas of Canterbury.

At the ends of the wings there are also small panels, with painted subjects, representing, those on the Gospel side, Our lady, St. Bride, and St. Lupus; and those on the Epistle side, St. Ann, St. Conchessa, and St. Brendan.

The triptych, filling up as it does a, considerable portion of the wall space and rising up some little distance in front of the window, has a majestic appearance, and as the carving of the figures has been done with masterly skill, and the painting of them displays a combination of colours which is at once soft, sweet, and devotional, the effect of the triptych is most dignified, noble, and inspiring.

Surmounting the triptych is a fine piece of carved and gilded cresting— a lace-like piece of wood-tracery. This represents the tree of Jesse, and contains ten figures, ancestors of the Blessed Virgin, entwined in the branches of the tree, which culminates in the figure of our Blessed Lady with the child Jesus in, her arms.

As will be gathered from the foregoing description, the new altar in St. Mary's Church is a valuable addition indeed. It completes the sanctuary, it adorns the church, and gives a setting for the ceremonial which will render St. Mary's, if possible, even more than before, an ideal house of God, where the faithful can drink of that spiritual drink that will "spring up into a fountain of life."



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