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Brush with the past


A little of the history of the Lady Altar in St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral has been revealed following the publishing of an article that appeared in last month’s edition of The Southern Cross about the installation of new mosaic artwork.

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Sacristan Bernard Dowd was prompted to remember several letters he received in 1996 from Mr Stanley W Quelch who worked for a firm of church joiners, Walker Symondson & Sons, in Ruislip, England.

“At that time I worked with two very elderly artisans on the limed oak altar backing with Italian mosaic panels which was sent to be erected in Adelaide Cathedral,” Mr Quelch wrote.

“We were not able to see it as a whole in England due to its size. I have over the years asked several people who might be coming near Adelaide if they could take a photograph for me but have had no luck.”

Living at the time in South Africa, Mr Quelch was delighted to receive two photographs from Mr Dowd which he said reminded him of the craftsmen he worked with, in particular a deaf man of about 60 years of age who did all the intricate carving.

Mr Dowd also sent him a copy of the publication The Cathedral Church of St Francis Xavier by Brian Andrews which features a photo of the Lady Altar which was constructed in 1954.


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