Tuesday, 21 August 2012

St. Mary's, Standishgate, Wigan

The church of St. Mary, Standishgate, Wigan was were Teresa Higginson was based as a teacher in the Catholic school from 1873 to 1876 and was under the direction of the then rector Fr. Thomas Wells.  It was here in Wigan that her mystical life fully began in earnest.  She was to be given the marks of the stigmata on Friday of Passion week in 1874 and she underwent the mystical espousals on the Feast of the Sacred Heart later that year, the prelude to her ultimate mystical marriage to Our Lord in October 1887.  She was to write to Fr. Edward Powell:

“And when I was at Wigan in 1874, on the Friday morning in Passion Week, my Lord and my God gave me the marks of His five Sacred Wounds which I earnestly begged of Him to remove, but to give me an increase if possible of the pain. During all the following week they bled, and Fr. Wells saw one of them on the Good Friday, after which that disappeared, the others having done so earlier in the morning, and on several occasions they have reopened. This I think I have mentioned to you before but as I am not quite certain about it I thought it better to do so here.”

It is a fine church built in the pre - Pugin Gothick style that was widely fashionable at the time.  The first foundation Stone was laid on March 17th, 1818 , and the second one on April 23rd of the same year .  The Church was solemnly opened on January 27th, 1819,  in the years before Catholic emancipation in 1829. Unlike the fate that was to sadly befall St. Alexander's, Bootle in the 1941 blitz, this church is still alive and well although its life is in a much reduced form, and has been reasonably spared the liturgical vandalism that was befall so many 19th century churches in the 1960's and 1970's.  The parish has now been amalgamated with St. John's Church in the same town.

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