Going to mass on St Patrick's Day is a tradition that has spanned decades. Many of the Catholic churches in London are beautiful and inside they tend to blush orange with the gentle glow of hundreds of tiny candles, while wonderful statues and stained glass windows adorn the walls and naves. Sitting inside a Catholic church, regardless of religion, is a wonderfully, authentically Irish way to celebrate St Patrick's Day.
Built in 1895 this eminent Early Christian Byzantine style cathedral, designed by John Francis Bently, is the principal Roman Catholic church in London. During construction, funding dwindled and the cathedral was never completed. Parts of the interior remain bare brick while others have been splashed with a colourful swirl of marble and mosaic. Westminster Cathedral is used to welcoming visitors from far and wide to have a look around but the masses here are a chance to glimpse a higher reality. A wonderfully sombre atmosphere emanates from the cathedral. We recommend going to the early evening service on St Patrick's Day. The elaborate, intricate beauty of the cathedral's interior is wonderful in the soft glow of twinkling candlelight and it becomes a lovely place for quiet contemplation.
Showered in flamboyant trimmings, this Roman Catholic Church is a hidden jewel in Kensington. Built in the Italianate baroque style in 1884, Brompton Oratory church is an exact imitation of the Gesu church in Rome and sports some beautiful exported genuine Italian fittings. These eye-catching treasures predate the building and are very special. Inside, the ornate colourful ceiling curves up a 50 foot dome while immaculate stone carvings add to the pomp of this epic building. The famous Brompton Oratory (also known as the London Oratory) is the second largest Catholic Church in London and every Sunday more than 3,000 people worship in this enormous church. Visitors are welcome but are asked to dress modestly, maintain a respectful silence and switch off mobile phones.
Southwark has two cathedrals, but only St George's Cathedral is Catholic. The impressive building, opened in 1848 as the first Catholic cathedral in the UK after the Reformation, occupies an historic site very close to the Imperial War Museum. Designed by great Victorian architect Pugin, whose plans were stunted due to lack of funds, the great soaring building is still an architectural gem that bears witness to the Gothic revival that was prevalent in buildings at this time. Inside the ceilings sweep up in gentle curves to the towering peak while the intricate carvings and elaborate decorations are just stunning. Much of the cathedral was badly bombed in 1941 during the Second World War; it was entirely rebuilt, however, sticking faithfully to Pugin's original design. For such a grand building, the cathedral is keen to uphold its community focus, welcoming all new faces to the many services held here. The local Latin American community, for example, is served with a Mass delivered in Spanish every Sunday at 1pm. The masses are just beautiful; with candles, smells and bells, they provide a wonderfully peaceful ritual.
Did you know??Roman Catholics were persecuted in England until large scale Irish immigration encouraged increased tolerance. In 1778 the Catholic Relief Act was passed. A Protestant protest against the Act was led two years later by Lord George Gordon, beginning the week-long destruction of Catholic property known as the Gordon Riots. Parliament did not cave under pressure and instead London saw its first Catholic chapels being built shortly after the riots ended.
St Patrick's Day in London 2010
The Irish have observed St Patrick's Day as a religious festival for thousands of years. Thought to have been born in the tiny Wel...History
The official London celebrations - that's the ones that don't revolve around pubs, Guinness and more pubs - take place on Sunday 1...The Parade 2010
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Guinness and oysters are traditional Irish fare, best enjoyed in the hubbub of a pub on St Patrick's Day. For something a lit...Irish Food
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