Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Restorations at the Oxford Oratory

Recently, St. Aloysius in Oxford, better known to us as the Oxford Oratory, underwent some restorations. This has been an ongoing project -- and in point of fact, it was in the midst of occuring when I visited the Oratorians there, along with our good friend, Fr. Anthony Symondson, last September. My recollection is that the focus at that period of time was upon the side chapels toward the liturgically Eastern end of the church.

The intent of this project of restoration, however, was much more ambitious than this.


(A view of the beginning of the restorations of the main sanctuary)


We have spoken upon the NLM before on the matter of colour and the powerful and enchanting effect it can have with regard to the liturgical arts, inclusive of vestments, sacred architecture and the like -- though of course, it goes without saying that when done poorly it can also have an opposite, rather garish effect.

For quite some time, when the topic of the Oxford Oratory came up, not the least of which from the Oxford Oratorians themselves, while its architectural beauty was often noted, there was also something of an understandable lament for the reason that many of the colours that had formerly adorned the same sanctuary had been covered over or dulled.

Thankfully, due to the work and liturgical sensus of those same Oratorians, that lament no longer needs to be expressed, or is likely to be heard.

To give you some context, here is a view of the Oratory's beautiful sanctuary prior to the restorations:



While it is beautiful indeed, much colour and life had been lost. By comparison, here are some images of the sanctuary following the recent restorations. (I would emphasize that clicking to enlarge the images will be quite necessary to see the results adequately.)


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Here, too, are a few closeups courtesy of the Flickr set of the NLM's own Brother Lawrence Lew:


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If you are in Oxford, do make certain to stop into the Oratory.