by BRYAN LITTLE A portfolio calendar, made up of pleasant sketches of notable local scenes, is on sale in Bristol. Its cover shows Clifton Cathedral; such prominence typifies the present standing of the cathedral as a showplace, officially so treated for the purpose of municipallysponsored tours, in a city which increasingly promotes its rich tourist attractions.
The quality of its worship, its drawing power as a masterpiece of modern religious architecture, and its significance, in a growingly cultural city, as a scene of artistic activities all make the opening phase of this Catholic cathedral's career a major ecclesiastical success story.
First and foremost a place of Christian worship the cathedral has maintained its devotional and liturgical work as its diocese's mother church and the normal worshipping place of its numerous parishioners. It is one of England's few Catholic cathedrals in which, on Sunday afternoons, Vespers arc sung by the choir.
Its music, under an energetic and resourceful director, has attained a high standard and has an excellent reputation. Many visitors, Catholic and otherwise, come to the Sunday Sung Mass. Ecumenical services, in a church whose "auditory" character commends itself for such occasions, are also important.
Last year the Methodist Conference held a leading service in the cathedral, and next spring it is to accommodate the opening session and the main
meeting of the South Western Ecumenical Conference.
Clifton Cathedral still attracts many visitors who come to it as a building of major architectural and artistic importance, and the sales of its guide book and post cards stay astonishingly brisk. Volunteer parishioners serve, through most of its open hours, as duty information officers.
Repairs to its fleche, necessitated by a freak storm, are now complete, while transfers from the old ProCathedral include the fine brass plates which record the Marian bishops of the ancient dioceses flow included in that of Clifton, the Western Vicars Apostolic, and the Bishops of Clifton from Hendren to Alexander. A final note, covering problems as well as successes, is on Clifton Cathedral's position, far greater than was expected when its designs were being made, as a place of cultural significance.
It is the recognised venue for the concerts of the Bristol Bach Choir, it was recently packed for a recital by Segovia, and many other musical events occur there. It could become too much of what Augustus Pugin (who would have hated it!) called a "Catholic Concert Hall,"
Logistic and practical problems apart, its authorities are having to exercise control, when faced by many requests, on the frequency and type of its musical events. But those which do take place in this building of national and regional fame are much enjoyed and bring more non-Catholic than Catholic visitors.
This building has established itself as one of England's three or four chief Catholic cathedrals. In the West of England it has done more than most things to put the Church "on the map". It is a challenging responsibility for its parishioners who bravely copa with a situation they could; hardly foresee three years ago..