The Reredos of St Joseph's Church, Stanley, Durham

Few things can be more beautiful than a well crafted, carved wooden reredos, especially in the gothic style and the reredos of St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Stanley in the United Kingdom is certainly no exception to this.  While the rest of the church is fairly typical (in a good way), the reredos and altar of the church are quite exceptional, and follow a fairly typical gothic revival form. 

The altar proper is made of stone, as is ideal for altars, and features the Lamb of God as well as the symbols of Alpha and Omega -- the beginning and the end. 

The reredos on the other hand is carved from oak and contains scenes of the crucifixion, the Last Supper, and 'Doubting Thomas' placing his fingers in the wounds of Christ. Various saints also adorn the altarpiece. 

A closer look at the reredos itself:

A point of interest here is that the central crucifixion scene is able to be swivelled in order to reveal a space behind where a monstrance may be placed for Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. 

One will also take note of the beautiful tabernacle which features the Lamb of God surrounded by two angels. Beneath, in gothic script, the words "Ecce Panis Angelorum" (Behold the Bread of Angels):

Not entirely visible in these photos we fine a text that runs along the bottom of the entire reredos which is taken from Psalm 82:2 in the Vulgate edition of the Bible: 
"Quam dilecta tabernacula tua, Domine virtutum."
(How lovely are Thy tabernacles, O Lord of Hosts.)
Running along the upper, carved panels are two biblical texts, the one Eucharistic, relating to the scene of the Last Supper, taken from Luke 22:15. The other is taken from John 20:26 and relates to the corresponding depiction of Doubting Thomas:
"Desideravi hoc Pascha manducare" (I have longed to eat this Passover)
"Manum tuam, et mitte in latus meum" (Put your hand in my side)

What all of this serves as a reminder of is that the symbolism that is often put into pieces such as these is never accidental, always purposeful, in this instance focusing on the Sacrifice of Christ, as well as His Body and Blood, both of which, of course, are entirely relevant to that place upon which Christ's sacrifice is renewed: the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. 

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