Brompton Oratory - London


Brompton Oratory
Cardinal John Henry Newman
John Henry Newman converted to Catholicism in 1845; and founded Birmingham Oratory, dedicated to Saint Philip Neri.
Other converts, including Frederick William Faber founded a London Oratory in premises near Charing Cross.
They purchased a 3.5-acre (14,000 m2) property in November 1852 for £16,000; in the (then) semi-rural western suburbs.
An Oratory House was built first, followed shortly by a temporary church; both designed by J. J. Scoles.
An appeal was launched in 1874 for funds to build a church.
Within the Oratory House is a chapel, known as the Little Oratory.
The Church still belongs to and is served by the Congregation of the London Oratory.
There are two other Oratories in the UK, the Birmingham Oratory and the Oxford Oratory.

Built in the Italianate Baroque style, the Brompton Oratory is an exact imitation of the Church of the Gesu in Rome and sports some genuine Italian fittings.
These unique, eye-catching treasures predate the building which also boasts an ornate, colourful ceiling, curving up to a 50-foot vaulted dome.
The first Roman Catholic Church to be built in London after the Reformation, the Oratory - true to its architecture - still practises a rigid, ritualised Catholicism.
Brompton Oratory (also known as the London Oratory) is the second largest Catholic Church in London and every Sunday more than 3,000 people worship in this enormous church.
Visitors are welcome but are requested to dress modestly, maintain a respectful silence and switch off mobile phones.
There is a sung mass in Latin every Sunday at 11am.


Brompron Oratory - Front Elevation
A design from Herbert Gribble, then 29, won a competition in March 1876.
The foundation stone was laid in June 1880; and the new church was consecrated on 16 April 1884.
Brompron Oratory - Sectional Elevation
The church is faced in Portland stone, with the vaults and dome in concrete; the latter was heightened in profile and the cupola added in 1895, standing 200 feet (61 m) tall.
Brompron Oratory - Side Elevation
It was the largest Catholic church in London before the opening of Westminster Cathedral in 1903.
The competition specified the 'Italian Renaissance' style, but the Roman Baroque and Wren are also drawn on.
Devon marble is used in the major order of pilasters and the minor order of columns, with more exotic marbles in the apse and the altars, with carvings in metalwork, plasterwork, wood and stone.
It houses notable Italian Baroque sculpture: the 'Twelve Apostles' by Giuseppe Mazzuoli (1644-1725) acquired from Siena Cathedral in 1895 and the Lady Altar, with sculptures by Tommaso Rues (1650-1690 ca.), from Brescia. Gribble's decorative scheme for the apse was not proceeded with, but the decoration of the St Wilfrid and the St Mary Magdalen chapels do reflect his intentions.
The St Philip Neri altar is to his design.
The second great decorative campaign (1927–32) was by the Italian architect C. T. G. Formilli, in mosaic, plaster and woodwork;the cost exceeding his estimate of £31,000.
Further decoration marked the 1984 centenary.

Cardinal Newman Chapel
The reredos of Doric columns in yellow scagliola (2006) of the St Joseph chapel and a new altar and reredos of the Blessed Cardinal Newman (2010) are by Russell Taylor, from Russell Taylor Architects.
The statue of Newman in cardinal's robes (1896) is by L. J. Chavalliaud in architectural setting by Thomas Garner.
The church boasts magnificent vestments and altar plate, and the house an important library.

John Henry Newman

John Henry Newman was born in London on 21st February 1801, the eldest of six children of London banker.
He grew up in the Church of England.
In 1822 he was elected a fellow of Oriel College, Oxford, was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1825, and in 1828 became the Vicar of the University church of St Mary’s.
He became a leading light in the Oxford Movement, seeking to recover elements of catholicity within Anglicanism.
In 1843 he resigned his living at St Mary’s church, and retired to a converted stable block at Littlemore just outside Oxford, to think and pray.
He was joined there by a number of his young followers, and together they lived an austere semi-monastic life. 
Late in the evening on 8th October 1845, an Italian priest, Father Dominic Barberi, came to Littlemore.
For several hours he heard Newman’s first confession, and the next day he was received into the Catholic Church.
In 1846 Newman went to Rome to study for the priesthood, and was ordained priest there on Trinity Sunday 1847, at the age of forty six.
He then returned to England, and the English Oratory was founded in February 1848 in Birmingham.

Father Wilfrid Faber
Meanwhile Father Wilfrid Faber had also converted from Anglicanism and he and several other converts joined Newman’s new Oratory.
Faber was then sent  to establish the Oratory in London in May 1849.

Father Wilfrid Faber (1814-1863) was the founder, under Newman, of the London Oratory. Faber and a small group of Newman's disciples came from Birmingham to London in 1849. Father Faber became an influential figure in the London of his day. His enthusiastic and  flamboyant personality might lend itself to unsympathetic treatment by those who do not 'understand' him. Faber described Newman as "the greatest scholar since St. Augustine" and referred to Newman as the one "who taught me all the good I know". All his Catholicism was drawn from Italian sources, and he felt naturally at home with the Italian temperament.

Newman was always a prolific writer of letters, sermons and articles, and this continued throughout his life.
His work was sometimes misunderstood, and a number of projects that  he was asked to lead or support seemed to come to nothing.
At one stage he was even wrongly suspected of doctrinal unorthodoxy.
In 1879, at the age of seventy eight, he was made a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church by Pope Leo XIII.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
Newman chose as his cardinalatial motto the words "Cor ad cor loquitur" (heart speaks to heart). He lived out the rest of his days, quietly and prayerfully, and still writing, at the Birmingham Oratory.
He died on 11th August 1890.
His funeral procession from the Birmingham Oratory to Rednal attracted crowds of 15-20,000 onlookers.
In 1958 the cause for his canonisation was opened.
In 1991 the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints declared that John Henry Newman had  practised the virtues to an heroic degree, and he was proclaimed 'Venerable'.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
In October 2005 the postulator of the cause announced a potential miracle; Jack Sullivan, a Catholic deacon in Massachusetts, USA, attributed his recovery from a crippling spinal cord disorder to Newman's intercession.
On 3rd July 2009 His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI approved the authenticity of the miracle, thus opening the way for Newman's beatification.
Beatification is the solemn affirmation by the Church that the servant of God may rightly be counted as being among the ranks of the Blessed, and that his prayers in heaven may laudably be sought by the faithful on earth.
Pope Benedict XVI, beatified Cardinal Newman on September 19th, 2010 in Birmingham, during His State Visit to Great Britain.

Christmas at Brompton Oratory
Sunday Mass times:
Sat 6.00pm, Sun 8am, 9am (1962 Missal), 10am, 11am (solemn Latin), 12.30pm, 4.30pm, 7.00pm

Weekday Mass Times:
7am, 8am (1962 Missal), 10am, 12.30pm, 6pm (novus ordo Latin)

Saturday Mass times:
7am, 8am (1962 Missal), 10am, 6pm (Vigil for Sun - fulfils obligation)

Confessions in the church:
Sundays: after 8am, 9am, 10am, 11am Masses, & 6pm–6.50pm & on request except from 1.00pm-6.00pm
Mondays - Fridays: 12 noon-12.30pm & 5.30pm-6pm
Saturdays: 10am-12.55pm & 3pm-6pm
Confessions at Oratory House:
Mondays - Fridays: 9.30am-12 noon, 3-5.30pm & 8-9pm

Tel: 02078080900; 

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