Marble sculptures, St Michael's Church

link_to_french_translationLink to Chinese translationMarble sculptures, St Michael’s Church, Rosemary Lane, Conwy

Many Roman Catholic churches have a set of depictions of the 12 Stations of the Cross* but usually indoors. Rarely are they displayed outdoors in such a remarkable setting as here. The scenes of the Easter story are portrayed in 13 reliefs and the Calvary, the free-standing sculpture depicting Christ on the cross.

Most of the reliefs are set into the medieval town walls (western side). The final one is on the gable wall of the church, facing the others. The Calvary is carefully positioned in front of one of the towers of the town walls. The Stations of the Cross and the Calvary were made from Carrera marble in Milan, Italy, especially for this site. They were unveiled to the public in 1932, according to Conwy historian Margaret Williams. A plaque inside the church, with the date 1916, says Captain Lloyd Goring funded the sculptures.

Walk down the steps and around the back of the church to see a small statue of the Virgin Mary. A grotto, enclosing a similar statue, was installed on this side of the church in 1931 but later removed when the church hall was built onto the side of the building.

St Michael’s Church was built in 1915. A plaque inside records the financial contribution made by Emma Houlgrave, previously of Seaforth, Liverpool, who died in February 1916.

In 1943 a funeral service was held at the church for Philip John Walsh, formerly an altar boy at St Michael’s. He was killed in a plane crash while serving with an RAF squadron which patrolled the seas for German submarines. Our page in his memory is here.

Pevsner’s Guide to the Buildings of Wales: Gwynedd says the church’s construction involved Giuseppe Rinvolucri, an Italian engineer who lived in Conwy. (Other sources say he settled in Wales in the 1930s.) In the 1930s he designed the unusual parabolic church of Our Lady, Star of the Sea in Amlwch, Anglesey. Other churches by him are found in Abergele, Princes Risborough and Ludlow.

*The Stations of the Cross depict different stages in Jesus Christ’s last journey, to the place where he was crucified.

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