New Oratory

I have already posted these photos to Facebook to announce the “birth” of a new oratory in my little house near Ambrières les Vallées in the Mayenne. I have resumed the dedication to St Martin of Tours of my old chapel in the Vendée. Interestingly enough, the Vendée and the Mayenne are part of the Pays de la Loire. The fatherhood of the holy Bishop of Tours is a part of this area, though my present home is barely out of western Normandy.

I use the term oratory to mean a place of prayer as opposed to a mission or a parish church. I make no pretence to any relationship with the Oratory of St Philip Neri, though I have a great admiration for the Fathers and the spirituality mapped out by the extremely eccentric Apostle of Rome. This is the intimate heart of my life as a priest and a contemplative. I keep an image of St Philip Neri near my stall.

I made the altar when I was in my old home in the Vendée (until 2005). The sacristy  needs elements still in cardboard boxes somewhere in my workshop or in the two large tents I pitched in the garden for temporary storage. I made this altar when I was still under the influence (not of drugs) but my time at Gricigliano, though I went more for Renaissance simplicity than flamboyant baroque. I have had to forsake the “Dearmer” style for lack of space. I intend to make some altar frontals. I will offer the first Mass on Saturday, Feast of Saints Philip and James.

The chapel is installed in a tiny upstairs room with the altar to the side to avoid blocking the window. The single choir stall faces the altar, and the rest of the room is taken up by the sacristy. Without any physical barrier between the chapel and the sacristy, the room is divided into two.

This oratory is not intended to receive churchgoers, but is a my private place of prayer and liturgy. Should a ministry be needed in the future, it would be possible to look into an outside place for a mission and I could provide the altar (presently dismantled) from the chapel in Normandy. A chaque jour suffit sa peine…

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