The Consecration

The completed church was consecrated by the Right Rev. Bishop Brindle, assistant to Cardinal Vaughan. Before a church can be consecrated it must not only be finished but free from debt and on a freehold property so the consecration of Holy Rood Church was not only a wonderful but rare occasion, since it is usually many years before a new church can be consecrated. In those days the consecration of a church was a long and complicated service, it lasted for four hours commencing at 8.30 in the morning. So far as is known there is no record describing what took place on that day 5th July 1900. However, it can he assumed that the relics of St. Domitilla and St. Constantine were sealed in an appropriate container beforehand and put in a suitable place outside the church.

On the day, the Bishop, clergy and people assembled where the relics had been reserved. The seven penitential psalms were recited, and the water to be used during the ceremony blessed. The Bishop then walked three times round the outside of the church sprinkling the walls and ending each time by tapping grounds with his staff on the closed doors seeking entry: the third time the doors were opened to him. During many prayers, antiphons and psalms, the inside walls were then blessed with water, and incensed. Following this the five crosses inscribed in the altar were anointed with holy oils; then the relics of the saints were cemented into the altar. The ceremony continued with the anointing with chrism of the twelve crosses on the church walls, which were then incensed. Finally the blessed altar cloths, vases and candles were placed on the altar in preparation for the Mass which followed. The rite used nowadays is much simpler but just as impressive and dignified.

After the consecration the Bishop celebrated Mass and luncheon followed for guests and parishioners, the Bishop presiding.

Bishop Brindle congratulated the Rev. T. Regan and his congregation on the magnificent church that they possessed. He was proud to think it belonged to the Diocese of Westminster and it was a great pleasure to him to consecrate a temple to the glory of God. Their church was erected through the generosity of one man; he did not look at the money given by Mr. Holland, but at the spirit of his gift. On every stone from foundation to turret was imprinted Christian love. They hoped Mr. Holland would have many happy years in the church he had built and receive blessings a thousand-fold. He submitted the toast of Mr. Holland's health. The toast was cordially received, the company singing "Long may he live."

Mr. Holland thanked them sincerely for the appreciation they had expressed of the work in which for the last twelve years he had been engaged. He was glad to think that the result fully justified the care and attention which bestowed upon the work, for he was quite sure a more beautiful little church than theirs was not to be found in this or any other town. But the beauty and perfection of the design, the careful and conscientious working out of every detail was due, not to anything he had done, but entirely to the selfless devotion, the sacrifice and the ability of Mr. Bentley, the architect. Nothing had been too small to merit his personal and entire attention, nothing had been left to subordinates, and that was the reason why the church was an education in ecclesiastical architecture. Having referred in some detail to the interior of the church, he said it had been built for an intention, which meant that it was a free offering to Almighty God, with a prayer that He would grant some favour. For that intention he beseeched their prayers. He desired to acknowledge the great assistance and encouragement he had received from the Episcopate and the clergy in charge. They trusted that Fr. Regan would be amongst them for many happy years, and that he would enjoy, not perfect peace, because he did not believe that to be the lot of man, but at any rate reasonable repose!

Sadly the architect was seriously ill and unable to be present for this glorious conclusion of his work. Like Moses he saw the promised land but was not to enter it.

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Holy Rood Church
Published by The Church of the Holy Rood, Watford. © 2001.