The Church and Its History
SS. Mary & John's Church continues to witness to God as the Catholic Church has done in Wolverhampton since before the Norman Conquest. The foundation charter of St Peter's Church (originally dedicated to Our Lady and All Saints) required the priests to "sing Mass there for ever" (Wulfruna's Charter). We continue to sing and say Mass here every day.
Dedicated to Our Lady & St John, the Church was opened in 1855, completed in 1880 and consecrated in 1905. It is in the Gothic style known as Early English. The architect, Charles Hansom, designed airy, lofty, open churches with ample space for the ceremonies of the Church.
Snow hill old congregational church
Snow hill congregational church was opened in the 1880's. It served as the main community church for snow hill until the 1940's when structural damage was severe. The church stood before SSMJ, and when SSMJ was built the church was next door. The church decided to move to a new location, to serve a new community and a new building was built. The church today is Penn united reformed church. More information can be found at:
Fundamental to Catholic Faith is belief in the Holy Trinity- Father, Son and Holy Spirit: three Persons in One God. Throughout the building we are reminded of this by the frequent recurrence of the symbol three: three large windows over the High Altar, each with three panels; three arches each side of the Chancel; the stone tracery in the windows makes frequent use of the trefoil, three 'petals' but one leaf.
There are four chapels in the church: the Baptistery (originally St. Joseph's Chapel, so the stained glass windows are scenes from his life), the Lady Chapel (originally was named the Immaculate Conception Chapel), the Sacred Heart Chapel and Saint Theresa's Chapel (originally dedicated to St. Patrick).
The ground plan of the Church is cruciform: that is, shaped like a cross laid on the ground. The main part of this is in the Nave; the upper part the Sanctuary; and the two arms are the Transepts.
1. West Front and Tympanum
2. Porch (organ loft over)
4. Sanctuary or Chancel
5. North Aisle
6. Stations of the Cross
7. Saint Peter
8. Saint Bernard
9. North Transept
10. North Window
13. Sacred Heart
14. Lady Chapel
15. Lady Altar
16. Immaculate Conception
17. Monuments to former parish Priests
18. Altar Rails
19. Our Lady and the Child Jesus
20. The High Altar
21. Our Lady and St John reredos behind high altar
22. Wooden "parclose" screens
23. Choir stalls
24. Mass Altar
25. St Joseph the worker
26. Sacred Heart Chapel
28. South Transcript
29. Pieta Group
30. Chapel of St Theresa
31. Confessional / Our Lady
32. Confessional / St John
33. South Aisle
35. The flight into Egypt
36. Window of St Bernadette
37. St Antony
38. The forty Martyrs Window / Piety Stall
The Church is dedicated to Saints Mary & John: Christ's Mother and His Beloved Disciple, but dedicated to them especially as they took part in Christ's Death on Calvary. We see this scene over the front doors, and beneath the words of the Roman Centurion when Our Lord died: "Indeed this was the Son of God". There is another stone Calvary, which is 70 feet above on the topmost point of the gable.
In the Sanctuary there is the magnificent High Altar which aims to form a fitting home for the Blessed Sacrament. Over the tabernacle doors is a carving of the Pelican in her piety. Angels abound, kneeling in adoration either side of the tabernacle, and right up to the top of the soaring pinnacle above the throne. Statues of Our Lady and St John stand in the two buttresses at the ends of the altar.
Principal measurements: overall length 150 feet; internal height 50 feet. Nave 110 feet long, 35 feet wide between the pillars. Side aisles 20 feet high, 15 feet wide. Overall width across transepts 96 feet.
The Statues are almost all life-size. They remind us of the apostles and the saints who have gone before us, and who set us an example of the love of God. The most moving is Our Lady cradling the lifeless Body of her Son after the Crucifixion - the Pieta.
The Stone Carving in the church is very fine. The capitals of the nave pillars are carved with 'stiff-leaf' foliage: each capital is different and perfect in itself. Heads of the twelve Apostles are carved on the ends of the Chancel arches. Everywhere you look there are angels: around the Pulpit, on the High Altar, in almost every window. As Catechism of the Catholic Church says: From the infancy to death, human life is surrounded by angels' careful watch and intercession...".