Lady Altar

At the south branch of the transept is the Lady Altar. This chapel in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary is dedicated under the title Our Lady, Help of Christians, principal patroness of the diocese of Shrewsbury, to whom the diocesan cathedral is also dedicated. The rich reredos, inspired by the Italian Renaissance, is defined by two sets of paired Corinthian columns of Brescia marble and surmounted by an imposing scroll-work pediment. The entablature has a cushion frieze (rounded as opposed to flat, as if the frieze were caused to bulge outwards by the weight of the pediment) and a cornice with dentils. The interior of the pediment is filled with florid swags and an escutcheon bearing lilies, the symbol of Our Lady’s purity, encircled by a gilded crown. The panel in the front of the altar, as well as the field behind the statue, is a mosaic of chipped lapis lazuli. This semiprecious blue stone, with its suggestive gold flecks, is an impressive tribute to Our Lady, who is traditionally represented by the colour blue. The seventeenth-century statue of polychromed and gilded wood was brought by Fr. Mullins from Portugal. The Christ Child, which can be removed for cleaning, has custom-made robes.

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