Sunday, 3 October 2010

St Joseph's RC Church, Penarth

A few months back I was at a family wedding - a wonderful occasion at the beautiful St Josephs RC Church, Penarth.

As an aside I know a retired cleric (I won't name him to spare his blushes, not mine) who used to be the parish priest there and who was lucky enough to have Dr. Saunders Lewis amongst his parishioners. Dr Saunders Lewis was a famous Welsh Catholic and inspired the founding of the Welsh Language Society.

Regardless of politics, I don't think anyone inside or outside of Wales would suggest that the loss or diminution of the Welsh language would be a good thing, any more than the loss of French or Hindi and the cultural/historic gems that accompany them.

I had never been to St Joseph's before, though I had heard about it. Nothing could have prepared me for the wonders inside! The wonderful High Altar simply took my breath away. It was everything a Catholic Church should be. It was awe-inspiring. It truly inspired awe! It inspired a love of the Blessed Sacrament. It inspired a love of the Saints.

The Church has been accused of many things down the ages, some true some false, but one thing it was not was stupid. Churches like this throughout Christendom were built, were designed and evolved to bring out the spiritual in people, in the faithful. The murals, the windows, the statues - all help us focus on the things of heaven, the life of Christ, the Saints, our Holy Mother.

Sadly I don't think pictures of the Church (internal or external) are online, nor does St Joseph's have a website: something for a local to think about perhaps.

Right: Penarth man Simon Morgan repairs a statue of the Blessed Virgin from St Mary’s Catholic Church in Dinas Powys, where he was married, after vandals damaged it. Penarth Times story. An unrelated story - but Catholic and Penarth-based nonetheless!

I spoke to the Parish Priest briefly after the wedding service and complimented him on the beauty of the Church. He told me that much of the inside of the Church was listed and so could not be changed or ripped out in the 60s, 70s etc.

Deo gratias!

I don't suppose as Catholics we have much to thank local council bureaucracy for, but in this instance a real jewel of Welsh Catholicism was surely saved for generations to come.

If you get the chance do go to St Joseph's in Penarth. It is a real gem and will lift your heart and reinvigorate your Faith.

P.S. If you do a google search for St Joseph's, Penarth you can go on google maps and see a great external view of the Church, as well as directions to get to it (as with quite a few Catholic churches in Wales, it is tucked down a side street)


  1. Hi Gareth

    I just found your blog and I am delighted to find a Welsh one! This is a very interesting post. I will have to visit St Joseph's. I am not a million miles from Penarth.

    Thanks Gareth and God bless you.

  2. Hi Gareth

    I just popped in to wish you a Happy Feast of St Francis Assisi for today, 4th October. He's a particular favourite of mine. God bles you.

  3. Ah thankyou so much!

    Yes do visit St Joseph's if you get the chance. I think the priest's name is Canon Flook -- but a have a memory like a sieve ;-)

    I think it is so important for us to remember that Wales was Catholic for years, and gave the Faith to the Irish via St Patrick.

    The Irish in their turn brought many faithful souls to these shores - a great example of 'what goes around comes around.'

    It is sad that Wales followed the English in gradually giving up 'the old faith' and the bribery of a Protestant Bible in Welsh was a well-thought-out ruse by the authorities.

    If you get the chance read St Richard Gwyn Man of Maelor published circa 1970. It shows how the Welsh loved their Faith in the penal days.

    Talking of books there's a recent one out all about St Francis and his Mission to the Muslims. The name of it escapes me now... but it's yet another book I mean to get.

    Thanks for your kind words.

  4. It is important to note that the sanctuary lamps never went out in Abergavenny!

    Also, I'm a Grangetown lad (22) myself, and have never visited St Joseph's Penarth. I really should!