Monday, 7 January 2013

Birmingham Oratory

A trip to Birmingham and Five Ways in particular on 24 October last year saw me take a few moments to walk down the Hagley Road in search of a Geograph photo. I'd seen a church marked on the map but had no idea what it was.

The Congregation of the Oratory of St Philip Neri is a community of priests and brothers. Oratorians live together in community, but unlike religious they do not take vows. The priest members of an Oratory are secular priests. Each Oratory is autonomous and when somebody joins an Oratory  they join that particular community with the intention of remaining there for life.  Even though each Oratory is autonomous, since 1944 there has been a  worldwide Confederation of Oratories whose members meet together in Rome at least once every six years to elect from among their number an Apostolic Visitor who, with the authority of the Holy See, carries out canonical visitations of each Oratory as necessary. The first Oratory was founded in Rome in the sixteenth century by St Philip Neri (1515-1595) to serve the daily religious needs of the many lay people who came to him seeking spiritual direction. He gathered together around him many souls from all walks of life whom he helped as confessor and guide. As the numbers of his penitents increased, he and some of his collaborators were ordained as priests, and from this developed the Congregation of the Oratory. The Oratory was brought to England in the middle of the 19th Century when John Henry Newman, a convert to Catholicism from the Church of England, founded an Oratory in Birmingham in 1848.

The picture shows the south elevation of the Oratory with the garden

A quick shot taken inside the church. The church was constructed between 1907 and 1910 in the Baroque style as a memorial to Cardinal Newman.It was designed by the architect Edward Doran Webb.

It is known as Little Rome in Birmingham and although I was only theer a short time it was easy to see why it has been given that name..