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St Benedict | by Aidan McRae Thomson
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St Benedict

North aisle window from 1952 by the Earley Studio of Dublin depicting St Benedict. The style is strongly influenced by the work of Irish master glass artist Harry Clarke, though some two decades after his death.

 

St Osburg's is Coventry's prinicpal Roman Catholic church and one usually neglected by visitors, being situated inconveniently just the wrong side of the inner ring road from the city centre, though only a short walk from it. It is nonetheless a gem and rewards a visit with it's beautiful Irish stained glass.

 

The church was built in 1843-5 by Charles Hansom, and has a tapering south west steeple that provides a much needed landmark in this fringe of suburbia. At first sight it appears rather an unremarkable, run of the mill exercise in Victorian Gothic. It suffered serious damage during the Coventry Blitz of November 1940, when the chancel took a direct hit, bringing down it's roof and much of it's masonrym and generally destroying the church's furnishings and windows. The nave however was in better shape and was patched up towards the end of the war for the resemption of services whilst the chancel remained a ruin until a fuller restoration c1950.

 

The postwar restoration saw the installation of a stunning set of stained glass windows, all the work of the Earley Studio of Dublin (1950-52), culminating in the magnificent east window depicting Mary's Assumption surrounded by angels in rich, glowing colours, providing a superb focal point for the interior. The flanking chapels, dedicated to Our Lady and St Benedict respictively, recieved striking new mosaic murals in opus sectile.

 

The church has recently emerged from a further major restoration in 2010-11 and is looking all the more splendid for it, with a freshly redecorated and reordered interior. The new altar houses three alabaster figures of Mary with SS Denis and Lawrence, at least two of which appear to be medieval but of unknown provenance.

 

I've known the city for so many years but never visited this church till now, and it was something of a revelation; I found the church open for visitors and private prayer, but am not sure of the normal arrangements.

 

For more detail and images see it's entry on the Warwickshire Churches website below:-

warwickshirechurches.weebly.com/coventry---st-osburg.html

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Taken on September 6, 2012