SAINT ALOYSIUS CATHOLIC CHURCH
Sauchiehall Street becomes pedestrianised at Rose Street. It is here, at the edge of Glasgow’s shopping area, near the Glasgow Film Theatre and the College of Art, that the fine late Renaissance style church of St. Aloysius is located.
The church is open every day of the week until 6.30pm, and on Sundays until 10pm.
Built in 1908 in the design of Belgian architect Charles Menart, the red sandstone building has a campanile 150 feet high and a nave span of 44 feet. Menart also designed the church of the Sacred Heart in Bridgeton, Glasgow.
However, the marble cladding which is such a strong feature of the interior was not added until 1927, and this was the work of Austrian architect Ernest Schaufelberg.
The church is in the care of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), and many Jesuit Saints are depicted throughout the church especially in the central dome.
On entering the church one is immediately struck by the powerful marble work of the Sanctuary at the West end. However let us first go round the four side chapels, starting on the right.
SAINT IGNATIUS CHAPEL
St. Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556) was a Spanish courtier who at the age of 30 was wounded in the battle of Pamplona fighting against the French. During his recovery he underwent an intense conversion and started to have mystical experiences. He sought solitude in a cave at Manresa in Northern Spain, and composed the manual called “The Spiritual Exercises”. Subsequently he studied in Paris and gathered a group of companions about him; these promised to serve Christ together and called themselves the Company of Jesus. In time Ignatius settled in Rome and wrote the rule to guide the Company.
The statue shows Ignatius holding a copy of the Spiritual Exercises. Note the use of blue marble (Lapis Lazuli) in the Chapel.
Perhaps the finest of the four chapels, the Lady Chapel dedicated to Mary the Mother of Jesus, has a white statue in carrara marble. The stained glass window on the right portrays the Annunciation, and the large window in the north transept shows Mary in glory.
NAVE AND SANCTUARY
The length of the church is 150 feet, and is evidently focused on the large Sanctuary area in the West end. The emblem at the top of the cupola, (like the letters IHS) is the Jesuit “logo” being the first three letters of the name of Jesus (in Greek) together with a cross and nails. Below the emblem is a statue of Saint Aloysius, the patron of the church. Of the Gonzaga family in Italy, Aloysius joined the Society of Jesus, but died at the age of 23 nursing plague victims. He is the patron saint of sufferers from AIDS.
The marble sanctuary and tabernacle are original to the church, and the free standing marble altar was added in 2002. Various mosaics can be seen high above the sanctuary together with complementary decorative effects.
SACRED HEART CHAPEL
Crossing the sanctuary to the south side we come to the red Languedoc marble chapel of the Sacred Heart with its mosaic of Christ pointing to his heart. Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus centres on his heart as the seat of love and affection, appealing to mankind to reciprocate his love.
As we start to go back down the church, the first of the 14 stations of the Cross can be seen on the wall above the side door. These depict events in the passion of Jesus, and are the work of the artist Jessie McGeehan. The Latin inscription at the base of each station is a comment on that station, usually a quotation from the scriptures.
SAINT JOHN OGILVIE
St. John Ogilvie was a Scottish Jesuit who strove to re-establish Catholic Christianity in Post-Reformation Scotland: his venture is depicted in the three mosaics at the base of the shrine. In the central one he is shown landing in Scotland from the continent of Europe; the right hand mosaic shows his torture in Edinburgh after his arrest; and the left hand one depicts his martyrdom by hanging at Glasgow Cross on 10th March, 1615.
HOLY SOULS CHAPEL
The gift of the Marchioness of Bute, this chapel to commemorate those who have died, has striking black Belgian marble pillars. The mosaic depicts the raising of Lazarus (Gospel of John, chapter 11). The blending of different coloured marbles here and in other parts of the church creates a rich harmonious effect, whilst the use of a dominant colour for every chapel ensures the individuality of each one.
There are various other features of St. Aloysius church that may be of interest: two choir lofts; mosaics in the nave; various statues; stained glass, especially in the central dome; marble pulpit; altar rails. Many features can be noticed as one walks around the church.
St. Aloysius Church, 25 Rose Street Glasgow G3 6RE
0141 332 3039
Attached to the church is a set of parish rooms and bookshop, called the Ogilvie Centre. The clergy are generally available there.
St. Aloysius church is open every day, and many people come in to pray privately. There are usually 2 Masses each day at 8.00am and 12.15pm.
Sunday Masses are as follows:
10.00am (Family Mass) 12.00pm (Sung) 9.00pm
The 9.00pm Mass is claimed to be the latest in Western Europe!
Major repairs and improvements have been made over the years, including securing the tower, redecoration and re-lighting the interior, installation of a new organ. We have been greatly assisted by grants from Historic Scotland, the Lottery and Glasgow City Council. But the major source of funds is from parishioners and supporters. We are grateful for all donations, and these can be given via the electronic card reader, or via the boxes marked ‘Restoration’.