In general the architect, Vincente Stienlet, has used light to enhance features of the church. A Celtic theme runs throughout and the pinnacle of this must be the cross on the top of the building which glints in the sunlight and because the church is on a hill, can be seen for a good distance.
The church is hexagonal in shape meaning there are no dark corners. Much of the construction incorporates individual bricks - around the altar, the altar seat - and this reminds us that the church is not just a building but a community of individuals.
While Newcastle quayside was being restored Vincente saw the two tonne granite block from his office window. The stone was given to the church at no cost as it was one of a few redundant blocks forming the edge to the Quayside.
The block was already polished on the top and one side with the rounded edge. The altar was then formed by the sculptor, Fred Watson, at his studio in Birtley, Northumberland where the parish priest, Fr Cornelius O’Connor, and Vincente visited as Fred cut random vertical grooves into the sides and then knapped between the saw cuts giving the effect of a cloth draped table.
The tabernacle plinth is constructed from the same block of stone but this has been polished.
It is unusual to have the rising Christ rather than the dying Christ. Christ rising in glory and completing His journey by returning to the Father. This is complementary to the altar environment generally - see Sanctuary Wall.
The cross is Celtic and is decorated with ivy which is symbolic of 'I am the vine, you are the branches.' There is also a mouse at the bottom of the cross - can anyone remember the significance of this?
The underlying theme is that of our journey of faith and our dependency on God. There are several unfinished stars of David cut into the wood which remind us that we are pilgrims searching - our life is not complete until we return to God - we are unfinished stars.
The flames represent the upward movement of our prayers to God and of his grace sent down to us. This also represents our sacrifice to God and his gift to us. The flames are interesting in that they have 'moods' depicted by them 'moving' and changing colour in response to the varying strengths of the sunlight shining down through the top window.
Stations of the Cross
The stations were brought from the old church. During the cleaning process it was discovered that they are made from Victorian terracotta which makes them quite valuable. The stations symbolise the bringing together of the old and the new uniting the community.
Our Lady's Statue
Another unusual example of representation. Our Lady is shown to be an older woman who has experienced life and so will understand our problems and worries. Her open hands are emphasised gold leaf bringing our attention to her being the all-embracing mother of all. The statue is carved from the hardest wood in the world ebony making it long lasting.
The font stands in front of a glass wall making it the lightest area of the church which symbolises the sacrament of baptism. Outside, behind the glass wall are shrubs which provide a living, moving backcloth. The actual font is hexagonal following the shape of the church and is visible from all viewpoints.
At each side of the altar are secluded prayer areas. These have areas where light comes through glass bricks and four small jewel like ‘dalles de verre’ windows by Ralph Pattisson, reflecting the Celtic theme.
St Bede's Window
The stained glass window faces east to catch the morning sun. St Bede is in the window and the words of his prayer. It is a little disappointing as many people will not normally look up to see the window which is at the back of the church facing the altar.