The Perthshire Critic 1895

Interior of St John the Baptist's RC Church, Perth, in 1895

Interior of St John the Baptist’s RC Church, Perth, in 1895

OUR subject is one of the oldest Roman Catholic Churches in Scotland—sixty odd years having passed since it was erected. It is built in the Gothic style of architecture, and all the details in connection with it, and the improvements since made upon it, are consistent with the original design. From the triple arches of the sanctuary to the main entrance door, the Church has an appearance of neatness and grace which would be difficult to excel. The central arch, which rises to a height of fifty feet, forms the apse, and encloses the high altar, while the arches on either side lead to the vestry and lady chapel, which was erected by the late Bishop Rigg. The centre arch is of beautiful Dumfries stone of a warm tint. It is draped with beautiful rich hangings, and surmounted by three stained glass windows. At the base of the windows is a scroll bearing in gold letters the words “ Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus.” The centre window of the sanctuary represents St. John the Baptist, patron of the Church and of the City of Perth; and St. Columba, patron of the diocese: that on the Gospel side represents St. Andrew and St. Margaret, while that on the Epistle side St. Patrick and St. Bridget. The windows, which are of Munich design, were supplied by Messrs. Mayer & Co. The altar is very fine, especially since it was recently redecorated, the lower portion of it consisting of costly Carrara marble. The tabernacle is evidence of great taste. The credence tables, like the altar, are also of white and Carrara marble. The colour harmonises excellently with hangings of the apse. The steps leading up to the altar of Belgium marble. The remainder of the sanctuary laid out in beautifully designed Mosaic work, while the predilla is of polished oak. At the side of the altar there are serpentine pillars of a deep olive colour, which give it breadth and enhance its appearance. A throne has been lately erected above altar. The sanctuary is screened by richly-carved oak railings, terminating in graceful pillars surmounted by beautiful Corona lights.

Outside the Sanctuary, and on the Gospel side are statues, one representing the Sacred Heart and the other the Immaculate Conception. On the Epistle side is a statue of St. Joseph, beside which, we understand, another of similar design is to be placed. Four oil paintings of great artistic merit are suspended from the side walls. Those on the Gospel side represent “Christ giving the Keys to St. Peter” and Death of the Blessed Virgin,” while the two on the Epistle side represent “Adoration of the Child Jesus” and “St. Patrick Crushing the Serpents.”

Under the gallery are pictures of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St. Catherine. Beneath the gallery is a statue of St. John, and here it is proposed to erect a Baptistry, on either side of which will be placed Confessionals. In the Choir gallery a screen partitions off the Choir, and here forty persons can be accommodated in addition to an orchestral party. The Stations of the Cross of relievo work, and are tastefully executed. The lighting provided by a beautiful coronal light with fifty-six lets of S. Thorpe pattern, which gives a very brilliant illumination.

The seats are of pitch pine, and the flooring is composed of pitch pine 1 .5” inches thick, laid in asphalte. Hot water pipes, round the Church form a heating chamber on the north side are covered in by a grating which seems like fretwork to beautiful panelled dado. This Church, from an architectural point of view, is undoubtedly very beautiful. The congregation is a large one, and a striking characteristic is the harmony which prevails amongst its members and the devotion they show to their clergy. The Very Rev. Dean Turner is the Parish Priest, and all his energies are applied in ministering with untiring zeal to the manifold needs of his flock.

The Dean is well known to all classes of the community, and his familiar form is seen at all times, and in all seasons, flitting out and in the houses in the poorer parts of the city. In his tastes the Dean is most artistic and refined, and while his manner is somewhat retiring in public, yet those who come with him are at once struck and attracted by his kindly disposition and great earnestness of purpose. By the public generally he is held in high respect, and by his congregation he is regarded with feelings of love and esteem. In Father McCarthy, Dean Turner possesses an able and energetic assistant, who spends the most of his time in visiting the poor and the needy, and by his genial, cheery manner brightens the dark hours and lightens the burden of many a sorrowing one. To every Roman Catholic household in the city the Rev. Father is a welcome visitor. It is needless to remark that Father McCarthy is a typical and loyal son of Erin’s Isle, and those who meet him are quickly appraised of this fact by the irresistible, good-natured mother wit which seems never to desert him.

The various agencies connected with the church are two schools under the Ursulines of Jesus, the average attendance being 224, and the Societies of the Sacred Heart, Living Rosary, St Vincent de Paul, Young Men’s Society, Holy Family, of the League of the Cross, Children of Mary, Guilds of the Holy Angels, St. Aloysuis. All these agencies are actively carried on, and are doing good work in their respective spheres. A Library is provided for the use of the congregation in the Young Men’s Hall. There is an effective voluntary choir under leadership of Mr. Win. Dolan, and Miss Gethin ably presides at the organ. The services are as follows —On Sunday, Communion is given at 8 a.m.; Mass at 9 a.m. (for children), 11 a.m. Missa cantata with Sermon; Catechism and religious instruction in School at 2.15 pm for day school children and working boys and girls. Mass on Holy Days at 7.15 am and 9 a.m., on other days at 7.30 am., and 8 a.m. Holy Family Devotions and Benediction on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. Confessions daily before Mass, and on Saturdays from 5 to 9 p.m.; and on Eves of Festivals from 6 p.m.