The Sanctuary and Nave

A flat, red-timbered roof divided into mullioned compartments painted with styled branches of oak leaves and acorns covered the entirety of the church. The irregularly grouped clerestory windows are glazed with knots of glass acquired from the Dublin Glass Bottle Factory in Ringsend. Tight financial constraints on Newman’s budget did not allow for anything more traditional. 

The raised sanctuary is demarcated by an alabaster communion rail. The alabaster frontal of the high altar is decorated with twelve discs of Derbyshire fluorspar crystal on either side of a Byzantine cross. Christ in Glory appears in the centre of the design with the four Evangelists at its cardinal points. Saints Ambrose, Augustine, Gregory and Jerome, all Doctors of the Church, represent the eastern and western traditions of Christianity. 

A brass altar cross with an ivory corpus towers above the painted wooden tabernacle with three tall, gilded wooden candlesticks stand on either side. The altar cross and Easter candle stand  were designed by Pollen and crafted by a ‘clever Dublin tinker’ while local carpenters carved the candlesticks in a similar style. The five small domes and decorative carvings of the baldacchino stand above the altar framing the rear wall of the sanctuary. A latticework of circles filled are arranged on either side of the baldacchino. This band of glazed ceramic tiles separates the semi-dome from the inlay marble of the lower walls of the apse where circular studs of glass set into the alabaster and marble framework gave a jeweled effect as they reflected the candlelight from the altar.

The semi-dome is modeled on the one in the Church of San Clemente in Rome. Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom, the church’s patroness and namesake, fills its centre with the Holy Spirit above her head in the form of a dove and Christ imaged as a jeweled cross. At the top of the arch, brilliant colours pour forth from the very hand of God the Father.

A great vine rises from the lower centre and fils the semi-dome with its coiled branches, each bearing the image of a martyr palm in hand, symbolic of their victory in Christ. Various birds and insects inhabit the tendrils. Deer, rabbits and other animals, representing the homage of creation, can be found at the roots of the vine.