About the Church: The Ante-Church

newman03The atrium leads into a kind of ante-church, which has an overhead gallery supported by arches, beams, marble columns and other slender pillars. The columns have alabaster capitals with carved foliage, fruit, flowers, birds and a sacrificial lamb. On six them angelic figures hold scrolls with the inscriptions Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Domine Deus Sabaoth. Until 1990 iron railings divided off this section of the church from the nave, as it was Newnan’s original idea that this area should be reserved for catechumens – those under instruction in the Catholic faith and preparing for baptism. The railings now surround small shrines on either side. These house, on the right hand side, pictures of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, St Joseph and an icon of the Annunciation with statues of St Thérèse of Lisieux and St Anthony of Padua.

On the left hand side is a large Crucifix and this side also contains two recent (2004) additions – gifts of the current pastor, Very Reverend Pearse Walsh. One, immediately to the left on entering, is a large Spanish painting of The Presentation of the Virgin from “the circle of Estaban Marquez de Velasco” (d 1696). Fr Walsh presented it in memory of his parents, Edward and Mary Walsh.

Just beyond a door leading to the driveway beside the church is a stained glass piece in a lighted box by the Co Wicklow-born artist George Campbell (1917-1979). An expressionist in style and noted for his use of colour and manipulation of mood, influenced by regular visits to Spain, this striking work represents The Scourging at the Pillar. Its donation to the church is in “memory of Fr Alfie Tonge”, who served in the (mother) parish of St Kevin from 1949 to 1967. At the back of the ante-church are two wooden confessionals and, for the time being, small framed replicas of seven of the tapestries from the walls of the nave.