The project is for the complete restoration and enhancement of this historic and most important church, right in the very heart of London. Corpus Christi was opened by Cardinal Manning on the 20th October 1874.
After the Protestant Reformation, it was the first Catholic Church in the country to be dedicated with the title Corpus Christi
- Built in reparation for all the sins committed against the Blessed Sacrament in the 16th century and since.
- The intention of Cardinal Manning was that it would stand here as a statement of what the Catholic Church believes about the Mass i.e. the Body and Blood of the Lord, and as “a sanctuary created specifically for the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament”. (Words of Cardinal Manning, from his homily at the opening of the church).
After a long period of neglect, exacerbated by considerable pollution in Central London, and clumsy attempts to clean the internal fabric by sandblasting, the interior walls and stone work were fully painted out with Artex and other modern paints in the 1970s. The church is looking tired, unloved and in much need of restoration to its former glory.
His Eminence, Vincent Cardinal Nichols has requested the complete restoration of Corpus Christi and the work has begun. To date, we have already carried out:
- The Renewal of the slate roof on the spire of the tower and the restoration and re-hanging of the bell
- Restoration of the Porch and the Sacred Heart statue in that area of the building
- Stripping and restoration of the Narthex of the Church – with the relocation of the Baptismal Font in that area
- Restoration and decoration of the Sacred Heart Chapel, including restoration of the original stained glass and the work of re-gilding the ceiling
- A new statue of the Sacred Heart was also commissioned for this chapel, and is now in place
- New Stations of the Cross have been donated by the widow of Arthur Fleischmann, and these are waiting to be installed, once the nave has been stripped of paint
- New glass doors and an outer grille have been installed together with disabled access to the church for the first time
Most recently we have completed the restoration of the Lady Chapel. Its design is based on the original Holy House in Loreto and a statue of Our Lady of Walsingham was commissioned and carved by Stuflesser of Northern Italy (and arrived in London on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes), and now adorns the newly renovated chapel.
This is the most important and most expensive part of the restoration. The work comprises of stripping paintwork from all the walls and carved stonework, stencilling stars at high level, cleaning, and re-gilding of reredos, gilding of the brickwork and carved stonework capitals, reforming of steps, new marble and encaustic tile floor, replacing the missing sanctuary lamps and canopies over the statues, new altar-rails, new spot-lighting. This will truly create the Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament, as intended by Cardinal Manning.
We are well on with this work: after 10 long months of laborious work, the scaffolding is finally down and the (nearly) completed sanctuary has finally been revealed!
The two magnificent statues of Ss Peter and Paul are still in the workshop, being stripped back to discover the original scheme of decoration, which is now being reinstated. Canopies to go above these statues have been copied from photographs of the original designs, and will be placed above the statues once they are back in place.
As is befitting a Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament, the original Sanctuary had seven lamps burning before the Tabernacle, containing the Holy Eucharist. Six matching lamps have now been made and hung – and the central lamp is being cleaned and restored.
Perhaps YOU can help us compete the rest of the work in this most important part of the church! What about the new beautifully carved altar rails – could you, or a group of friends sponsor these?
SO: HOW CAN YOU HELP?
The most obvious way is to make a donation towards the restoration work.
This can be done by using one of the forms in the church or downloaded from the website (see the pdf at the bottom of this page which you can open and download to fill in). This will enable you to make a gift by cash, cheque or bank transfer. You can either hand your donation to the priest, put it through the letterbox of the Presbytery or send it to us through the post. If you pay tax, please do complete the Gift Aid part of the form. This will enable to parish to receive a further 25p for each £1 that you donate, at no cost to yourself. You can also make a donation via Paypal on our website Donate page.
- Something that absolutely anyone can do to help and support us is to pray for us and the work that we are carrying out here at Corpus Christi. That really is just as important as the money we receive to carry out the physical work: prayer is fundamental to enable us to keep moving forwards.
So please do pray for us. Thank you and God Bless you.
Fr Alan Robinson
Help us complete the restoration!
Patrons: Joseph Fiennes, John Gilhooly, Patsy Kensit, Frank Skinner, Ann Widdecombe
“In the world we live in, faith, and a still and holy place to nurture it, has never been more important.”
-Lord Fellowes of West Stafford, writer of “Downton Abbey”, speaking of Corpus Christi.
This Parish is part of the Westminster Catholic Diocese Trustee.
Registered Charity Number 233699