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St Mary's Church

Belfast's most famous place of worship is probably St. Anne's Cathedral, located by Cathedral Quarter, a hive of activity at its annual Arts Festival. But in a most unlikely place, St Mary's Church also provides some astonishingly silent sanctuary. A few doors up from Castle Court, Belfast's biggest shopping centre, St Mary's is in a rather odd location, but still a retreat in the midst of city centre madness. Built in 1784, it was Belfast's first Catholic church - before it opened its door, Belfast's Catholic population met to worship at a site called Friar's Bush. Inside the church can be seen brightly-painted statues, Italian artwork, dramatic arrangements of candles and, of course, a depiction of the Sacred Heart.

Belfast’s most famous place of worship is probably St. Anne’s Cathedral, located by Cathedral Quarter, a hive of activity at its annual Arts Festival. But in a most unlikely place, St Mary’s Church also provides some astonishingly silent sanctuary. A few doors up from Castle Court, Belfast’s biggest shopping centre, St Mary’s is in a rather odd location, but still a retreat in the midst of city centre madness. Built in 1784, it was Belfast’s first Catholic church – before it opened its door, Belfast’s Catholic population met to worship at a site called Friar’s Bush. Inside the church can be seen brightly-painted statues, Italian artwork, dramatic arrangements of candles and, of course, a depiction of the Sacred Heart.

Outside the Church lies the ‘Garden of Lourdes’ opened in 1954 and complete with life-size statues (two Marys in one garden!). The Garden features a portion of rock on which Mary is thought to have “stood” during the Lourdes apparitions and, in case your imagination falters, there’s a life-size plaster reproduction standing right on it. From the Garden can be seen some interesting modern stained glass windows, which depict the Lourdes and Knock apparitions, and the Hungarian uprising of 1956, during which many refugees were housed in Belfast. Immediately opposite the Church are two stores, the Holy Shop and St. Mary’s Repository, perfect if you should wish to satisfy any religious-figurine-buying urges.

written by starsky

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