A LANDMARK Wirral church which was closed despite massive community opposition is set to have a formal reopening this weekend – with a Papal blessing.
Ss Peter and Paul’s in New Brighton – known to many as the “Dome of Home” is to become the first Roman Catholic Shrine in England devoted to the Latin Mass.
The church was shut in 2008 and a vigorous local campaign began almost immediately to reverse that decision.
Against the odds – and having taken the fight to the Vatican – that battle was finally won when services resumed in its day chapel last year.
It was later agreed with the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest to work towards establishing a foundation of the Institute at the church, with services in Latin.
Now on March 24 up to 800 guests, many travelling from abroad, are set to attend the official opening of the church which is renamed the Shrine Church of Ss Peter & Paul & Philomena.
These will include Monsignor Gillies Wach, founder of the Institute and Bishop of Shrewsbury Mark Davies. Last October Canon Olivier Meney was appointed the church’s first rector to the newly established shrine.
The imposing Grade Two listed building, nicknamed Dome of Home because its massive copper dome was one of the first buildings sailors approaching the port of Liverpool could see, had suffered from not being used, despite the efforts by parishioners to maintain it. The Institute is now aiming to raise money to repair the damage, which includes a leaking roof and problems with plaster work.
Although the parish was merged with English Martyrs the church will still be able to be used for key events including weddings and will hold regular services.
Tony Pritchard, who supported the Save Our Unique Landmark (Soul) campaign to save the church, said the reopening “will be a great day for the church”.
Bishop Davies said: “It is a source of great joy that we have received the blessing of the Holy Father and a Plenary Indulgence to mark the new mission of this historic church of the Shrewsbury Diocese.”