Monday, 23 August 2010

Bellahouston Park Furniture...

I'd never given this much thought. I knew that Bellahouston Park is where the Papal Mass in Glasgow is to be held. I know that Masses are celebrated on altars. I know that one doesn't normally find altars in parks...

I guess I just assumed that some sort of temporary structure would be put together. I had seen the report, in the Catholic Herald, of the chair, altars and lectern being made by teachers in Coventry for the Papal Mass at Cofton Park, the designs for which were approved by officials at the Bishops' Conference of England & Wales. The photograph, by the way, doesn't quite do it justice - the stained glass panels still have to be added.

Ian Hall, Deputy Head at Cardinal Newman School, explained that he, along with two other members of staff, had been working for three months at weekends and most of the Summer holidays to build the structures, which, for him, are much more than pieces of furniture.

"I'm a golf fanatic and for me it's like being asked to play in the Ryder Cup," he said. "It's a way of giving something back to the faith. My children will be able to see it and say 'my Dad made that'."

I assumed that Scotland would be doing something similar...

Not quite. I've just seen details of the altar, lectern and chair that have been commissioned for the Papal Mass. It sounds as if they've pulled out all the stops... The altar is being made from marble - the stonemason, Neil Reid, has been working flat out to get it finished in time - and the chair and lectern are presumably also marble, as the press release refers to "the marble structures."

The designer, Niamh Quail, said of the chair design:

"I wanted to keep it simple but also to have a Scottish and religious aspect to it as well.The design is Celtic, incorporating a cross, within each of the four arms are three interwoven leafs representing the Holy Trinity, with the entire design having no beginning nor end."

The designs were sent to the Vatican for approval.

I really loved how the stonemason described the commission:

"I’ve been making altars for churches for eighteen years now but this is the big one."

I've seen a stonemason at work - Dave Povey, when he put in the Lady Altar in Blackfen (he still emails me blonde jokes!) - and I can just imagine Neil Reid quaking as he chipped away at the marble in case something went horribly wrong.

What with commissioning James MacMillan to compose a new Mass setting and going all out to design and make a suitable altar, chair and lectern, I think that the honours definitely go to Scotland for this Papal Visit.

Twitch of the mantilla to Luke Coppen for his Morning Catholic Must-Reads.

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