St Walburge's Preston: Landmark church future 'secured'

St Walburge's Church Preston The church will cater for Catholics who wish to attend Mass and other sacraments in Latin, under the Tridentine Rite

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A Preston landmark and Grade I listed building threatened with possible closure has had its future secured.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Lancaster said St Walburge's Church would get a new lease of life in the autumn.

The Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest will run the church which was facing being decommissioned.

The religious order, which specialises in celebrating Mass in Latin, also saved Saints Peter, Paul & Philomena Church, in New Brighton two years ago.

The decision was taken after 12 months of negotiation by Bishop Michael Campbell of Lancaster and Monsignor Gilles Wach, General Prior of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, and parish priest Father Simon Hawksworth.

The Tridentine Mass

Image of a stained glass window in St Etheldreda's Church, London
  • The Tridentine Mass takes its name from the Italian city of Trent (in Latin 'Tridentum'). It was following the Council of Trent, in the 16th Century, that Pope Pius V authorised this specific kind of Mass
  • In a Tridentine Mass everything is in Latin and the congregation follows the Mass in private prayer
  • After the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, the Tridentine Mass was replaced by the Mass of Paul VI, which promotes the use of the language of the place where the Mass is being celebrated rather than Latin

Find out more about the Tridentine Mass

In a letter read to Preston Catholics on Sunday, the bishop said: "The future of St Walburge's Church Preston came into very serious question in the light of much fewer people at Mass in this vast and yet most beautiful church."

The church will cater for Catholics who wish to attend Mass and other sacraments in Latin, under the Tridentine Rite.

The church, which opened on 3 August 1854, was designed by the Gothic revival architect Joseph Hansom.

Hansom, who was once based in Preston, was the inventor of the Hansom cab. He also designed many churches and prominent buildings in Victorian England including Birmingham Town Hall, the Holy Name Church in Manchester and several Roman Catholic cathedrals.

The church's future had been in doubt following a diocesan reorganisation to cope with the falling numbers of priests and church attendees.

It was given a seven-year stay of execution in 2008 and would have closed if no other use for it had been found.

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