St Mary of the Angels, Wellington

St Mary of the Angels, Wellington

St Mary of the Angels is a Catholic church. The church was used by Archbishop O'Shea as his pro-cathedral (1936–1954). It was the site of the funeral of Suzanne Aubert in 1926 and is well known for its church music tradition.

The building, is classified as a "Category I" ("places of 'special or outstanding historical or cultural heritage significance or value'") historic place by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.

The first Catholic Church built on the site of St Mary of the Angels was a small chapel ("the chapel of the Nativity") built by Father O'Riley in 1843. It was blessed and dedicated by Bishop Pompallier on a visit to Wellington in the next year. This building was gradually enlarged and was completely replaced by a large wooden church in 1874. Fr O'Riley named this building "St Mary of the Angels" after the Portincula chapel which was precious to St Francis of Assisi.

This church was extended until it was badly damaged by fire in 1918 and then demolished. The present building was opened and blessed on 26 March 1922 by Archbishop Redwood and a solemn pontifical Mass was celebrated by Bishop Liston of Auckland. A sermon was preached in the evening by Bishop Whyte of Dunedin.

Plans for the church were prepared by architect Frederick de Jersey Clere in 1919. Architecturally, the design is traditional Gothic of French influence. The front facade was said to have been modelled on that of the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula in Brussels. The structure is reinforced concrete and brick with a timber roof supported by concrete arches with steel tie rods. Its construction was innovative in that it was 'the first occasion ferro-concrete was used for a church of Gothic design'.

The church is noted for its collection of stained glass windows, especially in a continuous series completely around the clerestory interrupted by the rose window above the narthex, a window of the crucifixion above the high altar and two spacious banks of 15 windows, one finishing the north transept (fifteen decades of the Rosary) and one finishing the south transept (the life of St Joseph). These windows flood the liturgical spaces of the church with light.

The church also houses an extensive collection of statuary, including a reduced, marble, copy of Michelangelo's Moses and life-sized representations of the Pietà and the Holy Family. In the transepts, the Our lady and St Joseph side altars are of brown-mottled marble and include prominent statues of Our Lady of the Rosary (in Dominican habit with blue veil) and Saint Joseph, with votive candle racks in front of each of them. Other large statues in various parts of the church include the Sacred Heart, St Vincent de Paul, St Marcellin Champagnat and St Peter Chanel.

The Gothic marble high altar and tabernacle, in front of a blue backing, includes a sculpted, reredos with statues. The altar was detached from the reredos and moved forward in the 1960s in the implementation of the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council (the celebration of the Mass facing the congregation). This altar is fronted by a carved, Last Supper set under an incised arch along its width. The ornate columns in the sanctuary are topped by marble statues of angels.

St Mary of the Angels is renowned for its Gregorian Chant which began in 1905. With the opening of the present church in 1922, a choir of 70 voices sang Mass under the direction of Edward Healy. The organ of the church is a unique instrument, originally built in 1958 by George Croft and Son Limited from Auckland, but extensively redesigned in 1984 to Max Fernie's specifications.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Wellington. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

Download The GPSmyCity App

Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for IOS   Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for Android

St Mary of the Angels on Map

Sight Name: St Mary of the Angels
Sight Location: Wellington, New Zealand (See walking tours in Wellington)
Sight Type: Religious
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Wellington, New Zealand

Create Your Own Walk in Wellington

Create Your Own Walk in Wellington

Creating your own self-guided walk in Wellington is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Historical Buildings Walking Tour

Historical Buildings Walking Tour

When immigrants first arrived in New Zealand they brought their beliefs. Most of the first settlers were Christians. The second church built in Wellington, in 1855, still stands today and is a great historic site. This self-guided tour will help you explore the churches and other religious monuments of Wellington.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 Km or 2.2 Miles
Wellington Introduction Walking Tour

Wellington Introduction Walking Tour

Wellington, jokingly referred to as "Windy Wellington" for the strong winds blowing across the Cook Strait, is also said to be the “coolest little capital in the world”. The list of the local sights drawing tourists to the city in their thousands is long – from Lambton Quay with its iconic red Wellington Cable Car to Te Papa (the Museum of New Zealand) to Civic Square, home to the...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.6 Km or 2.2 Miles