Dragon's Gem

St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Manchester is popularly known as the ‘hidden gem’, on account of its gorgeous interior and secluded location. Many RC churches are indeed aesthetically beautiful, but St Mary’s manages to outshine its peers. Upon entering, one is struck by the gigantic carving behind the altar of various figures, all life size.

Pevsner records the Victorian architect Augustus Pugin responding to the building’s Norman, Gothic and Byzantine influences: "[it] shows to what depth of error even good men fall, when they go whoring after strange styles."

What Pugin said of architecture I say of piety. Away from the grandiose carvings and fabulous materials, one sees for sale trinkets, statues, amulets and even donations for burning souls in purgatory. Behind the pleasing aesthetics, one sees a rather unpleasing blending of Roman paganism and superstition. Give me the plain, old gospel in a simple, country chapel.