Church of Our Lady Star of the Sea, Amlwch
This remarkable concrete church was designed by an Italian who had settled in Wales.
Engineer Giuseppe Rinvolucri was born in Savigliano in 1890. He married an Englishwoman in 1925 and later they settled in Conwy, where he instigated creation of a “Lourdes Grotto” outside his local Catholic church. His wife Anna died in 1931 having converted to Catholicism. He married again in 1939. Like most Italian men in Britain, he was interned as an enemy alien in the Second World War. He died at his Glan Conwy home in 1962.
He designed several Roman Catholic churches for towns in Wales and England. His 1930s design for this church exploited the properties of concrete to create a parabolic structure which forms the walls and roof of the nave. The postcard photos of the newly built church were issued in 1935. They show the church surrounded by rough grassland and without external render on the front walls and the plinth (which contains a hall).
The building’s maritime references include the porthole-shaped windows of the plinth. The parabola is reminiscent of an upturned boat, although with ribs on the outside! There are also ribs inside, where light enters the nave through star-shaped windows in the east wall and three stained-glass strips in the parabola.
One of the church’s dedicatees is St Mary, known as Our Lady Star of the Sea for her role as a guiding light both for mariners and for the Church as an institution (sometimes regarded as a ship). The other dedicatee is St Winifred, whose shrine is at Holywell, Flintshire.
The church closed in 2004 because problems with damp threatened electrical safety inside. Restoration was supported by the OMI Trustees, Cadw, the Pilgrim Trust, the National Churches Trust and the AllChurches Trust. The church reopened in May 2011 with a service of dedication by the Rt Rev Edwin Regan, Bishop of Wrexham. Follow the website link below for further information, including mass/service times.
Postcode: LL68 9ED View Location Map
Catholic Churches Anglesey website – further information about the church