The Great Monstrance and Lift

Behind the high altar is a manual lift, possibly unique in England, which is used to raise the colossal monstrance aloft onto a marble shelf at the level of the throne. The word ‘monstrance’ is derived from the Latin verb monstrare – ‘to show’, and is a sacred vessel used to show the Blessed Sacrament for the adoration of the faithful. Catholics believe that the Host, which in Ss. Peter and Paul and St. Philomena is normally reserved in the veiled tabernacle on the main altar, is transformed during the Sacrifice of the Mass into the Body and Blood of Christ Himself. During the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, 12 which occurs daily in this church, the Host is placed in the monstrance for quiet contemplation, and a special blessing is given called Benediction, accompanied by bells and incense, and the ancient tradition of Gregorian plain chant.

The New Brighton Great Monstrance is 1.2 m high and its Hallmark reveals it is made of 0.925 Sterling Silver, gilded, in 1926. Its bears the inscription ‘IN MEMORIAM ELIZABETH GRIMES’ on the underside of its base. It is decorated with jewels taken from rings and brooches donated by local people and visitors who used to come to New Brighton for their holidays. Its weight and size mean that it is impossible to carry into place without the aid of the lift. There is a small staircase behind the altar giving access to the platform in front of the throne. The black altar crucifix with ivory corpus, which occupies the throne outside of Eucharistic Adoration, was a gift to Fr. Mullins from the chapter of the cathedral of Lisbon.

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