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A writer, blogger, historian, and web designer born in New York, educated in Argentina, Scotland, and South Africa, and now based in London. read more

The Lady Altar

The Oratory Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
Brompton Road, London

In the south transept of the Brompton Oratory is the altar dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, perhaps the finest altar in the entire church. It is a favourite place for getting in a few prayers and offering a candle or two or three or four. At the end of Solemn Vespers & Benediction on Sunday afternoon (above) it is where the Prayer for England is said and the Marian antiphon sung.

The Lady Altar was designed and built in 1693 by Francesco Corbarelli of Florence and his sons Domenico and Antonio and for nearly two centuries stood in the Chapel of the Rosary in the Church of St Dominic in Brescia. That church was demolished in 1883, and the London Congregation of the Oratory purchased the altar two years beforehand for £1,550.

The statue of Our Lady of Victories holding the Holy Child had previously stood in the old Oratory church in King William Street, and the central space of the reredos was slightly modified to house it. The Old and New Worlds are represented in the flanking statues, which are of St Pius V and St Rose of Lima — both by the Venetian late-baroque sculptor Orazio Marinali. The statues of St Dominic and St Catherine of Siena which now rest in niches facing the altar were previously united to it, and are by the Tyrolean Thomas Ruer.

This post was published on Sunday, April 7th, 2013 11:00 pm. It has been categorised under Architecture Church Great Britain Saints and been tagged under , , , , , , .
Valeria Kondratiev
11 Apr 2013 8:09 pm

I had seen photos of this Church before and was amazed at how Italian it looked, now that I learn that this altar was actually brought from Italy, I understand how London got such an Italian church.
I’m guessing there must be more sculpture imported from Italy in the main part of the church.

aged parent
18 May 2013 7:37 pm

I have heard the ancient rite Mass at that altar many, many times. It is indeed a lovely thing.

26 Dec 2013 10:07 am

The competition for this church in 1878 specified that it was to be in’ the style of the Italian Renaissance’. The altar was given by Fr Keogh, rather than the Fathers.

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