A Glimpse of Heaven
St George's Day is a good opportunity to celebrate the heritage of the English Catholic Church. In July English Heritage will be publishing A Glimpse of Heaven, an illustrated study of a hundred of our most beautiful Catholic churches. Of course, since we lost so much at the Reformation, we tend not to appreciate the many fine churches that have been built since the Catholic Relief Act of 1791. This book aims to do this and, according to author Christopher Martin, these buildings 'can be seen now as not only churches of different quality and different architectural styles but buildings that reflect the drama of their times; the religious passion, the shifting populations, the politics. They tell us about their architects and patrons, the priests, the princes of the church and the people who worshipped in them. It is a remarkable story and it is largely unknown.' Such a publication is timely, given the painful decisions which many dioceses are forced to make concerning the closure of church buildings. One thinks immediately of St Peter's, Seel Street, Liverpool - built in 1788, closed in 1978 and now a ultra stylish bar restaurant (Alma de Cuba). Indeed, of 3,465 Catholic churches and chapels in England and Wales, only 625 are currently listed. This new book is worth a look and can now be pre-ordered.