St Francis Xavier’s RC Church , Hereford
- Postcode: HR4 9AP
- Hours of access: 8am – 5pm
- Wheelchair Access via ramp at side of entrance.
- Cafe open Wednesday & Friday mornings.
The site of the present building in Broad Street was originally occupied by a house and gardens and under the jurisdiction of the Jesuit Order, the upper rooms of the house were converted for use as a chapel and services were conducted there for many years.
In 1829, following the enactment of the Catholic Emancipation Bill, many new churches were built including a “Jesuit Temple” in Broad Street, designed according to classical Greek traditions.
The foundation stone was laid at 12 noon on Tuesday 19th September 1837 and Queen Victoria sent her personal representative and the building was opened on Wednesday and Thursday 7th and 8th August 1839.
The architect was Mr Charles Day of London and features include:
The portico consisting of two large columns, each 13 feet in circumference.
The crystal glass dome provides most of the natural lighting for the church reaching to an overall height of 60 feet. During the renovations of the last 7 years, the dome has been decorated with 390 gold leaf stars, each of which is open to sponsorship which helps to cover the cost of the refurbishment.
The sanctuary includes a high altar and a tabernacle which is an exact replica of the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament of St Peter’s in Rome. To the right of the tabernacle is the reliquary of the hand of martyr Father John Kemble, hanged in Widemarsh Common in 1679 for practicing his faith as a Roman Catholic priest at the age of 79 years.
Along the side walls of the church are 14 Stations of the Cross, modelled on designs which were first exhibited by a Belgian artist at the Great Exhibition of London in 1851.
In recent times, the Grade II listed building has been externally renovated and restored (1997-8) with the interior being completed in 2002-3. The Narthex now includes a glass screen allowing visitors to sit or kneel in prayer each day.