By the REV. SIR JOHN O'CONNELL, K.C.S.G.
In an article in the Catholic Herald last week reference was made to the work If the Sisters of Mercy at St. Michael's Orthopedic Hospital, Clacton-on-Sea, and he dignified convent chapel opened on the feast of the Sacred Heart was briefly lescribed. As a supplement to that article the following appreciation, both of the ospital and the chapel, from the pen of the Rev. Sir John O'Connell, will be read vith interest and enjoyment.
The history of St. Michael's Hospital, ke so many other works of charity, ;ads more like a romance than a record f sober fact. This great and practical • ork of charity was begun by the Sisters f Mercy less than twenty-five years ago, ith a trust in providence which seemed lmost reckless, since the capital sum in and was even less than the traditional )rty shillings. But in spite of innumerble difficulties and discouragements the Durage of the Rev. Mother Clement and er devoted company of helpers has never ailed, and the beneficent work for the !storation of the poor sufferers to health nd strength has gone on with ever,' icreasing success.
Making Crooked Straight
There are few forms of charity which are at once so practical and so beneficial as the cure of children, boys and girls, who suffer from deformed or unhealthy limbs, because in many cases, indeed in most cases, modern orthopedic surgery can do much to correct their defects.
It is the triumph of modern orthopedic argery that it can so treat these mislapen and ill-formed limbs that they can e made strong and healthy, and that the afferer can attain to normal health and igour. It is essentially a curative and onstructional work, requiring time and are and patience and healthy surroundigs. It is, therefore, necessarily slow and lso expensive in its treatment, and being low it shows little that is " spectacular." But the final success of the treatment rhich enables the patient to take his or er place in the work of the world with sound body and a courageous heart is le reward of many months, if not years, f patient scientific treatment. This is the /ork which for the last twenty-five sears t. Michael's Hospital at Clacton has een carrying on in spite of innumerable ifficulties and obstacles, with a confidence thich the ever-growing usefulness of the ospital has more than justified.
The Place of Prayer
But St. Michael's has been more than a reat curative institution. The Sisters of 4ercy have seen to it that it has ever een a house of prayer. In harmony with • essential ideal, it had long been the esire of the community to have a chapel S beautiful and impressive as possible, ot only for their own devotions, but as consolation and inspiration to the afferers, so that restoration of health and anctification of spirit might go on hand I hand before the altar of God.
Thanks to the generosity of many good. riends and supporters, some of them on-Catholics, a beautiful and impressive hapel has now been erected under the uidance and supervision of a most evoted friend of the institution, Mr. )avenport, whose knowledge and experince in all matters connected with church • uilding and adornment is only equalled y his taste and discrimination.
The result has been the erection of a singularly beautiful and Interesting church—for such it really is—in which everything manifests original and individual thought and loving care.
The general scheme is black and white, tending towards cream colour. The altar is singularly impressive in its dignified restraint, a plain sacrificial table, unspoilt by gradines or other unliturgical " adornments," on which rests a simple and dignified tabernacle of golden bronze, cylindrical in shape and domed, so that it cannot be used as a base for an altar crucifix, covered of course by its liturgical collopzum.
The Divine King
Behind this altar and well above it there is a statue of Christ the King, standing out in white and gilded marble from a background of dark-coloured marble, and the sacrificial table is, as it were, protected at the back and sides by a kind of reredos of alternate courses of black and white marble pavonazzo and Greco-antico.
This beautiful altar is an instance of the fact that whatever is strictly liturgical will always be found to be impressive and devotional.
The statue of Christ the King, standing on a gilded corbel, with his right hand raised in blessing and his head surrounded by a wide-spread aureole of golden glory, dominates the entire church, and draws all eyes and all thoughts to that one place on which they ought to be fixed—the altar of sacrifice and the tabernacle where he abides.
There are many other beautiful things in this well-designed church, but limitation of space permits only a reference to the interesting series of windows, designed and executed by Mr. H. Grylls, containing medallions of portraits of twelve of the English martyrs, with their proper coatsof-arms, including St. John Fisher, St.• Thomas More, Blessed Cuthbert Mayne, Blessed Edmund Campion, S.J., Blessed Philip Howard, Earl of Arundel, Blessed Oliver Plunket, and others.
It is quite in keeping with the spirit of these windows that one of them should be dedicated to the beloved and cherished memory of the late Sir John Gilbert, who surely was of the spirit as well as of the faith of these martyrs— a life-long and devoted supporter of this charity.
Many generous friends assembled at St. Michael's when this beautiful house of God was blessed, and high Mass was celebrated by Father Cuthbert, 0.F.M., of Woodford Green Priory, assisted by Father Rudolf, 0.F.M., as deacon, and Father Germain, 0.F.M., as sub-deacon. A thoughtful and moving sermon was preached by the Rev. Raymond O'Flynn, of the Catholic Mission Society, who has long taken a deep and practical interest in this charity. The music was beautifully rendered, the common of the Mass being admirably sung by the crippled children and the proper by the choir of the Franciscan Priory of Woodford Green. His Lordship Bishop O'Reilly occupied a seat in the sanctuary, and there was a large and representative gathering of clergy.