Our Church Features
The Beautiful Features of Saint Mary Our Lady of Grace
Location and Style
The present Saint Mary’s was built in 1929 and stands at the southwest corner of
Fourth Street South and Fifth Avenue South. Byzantine in style with Romanesque
features, octagonal in shape with a brick exterior, and with seven interior
balconies, it can seat up to 1,000 worshippers. A remarkable collection of
stained glass includes a large rose window over the north entrance.
In 1996, generous contributions from current and former parishioners and friends
permitted an extensive renovation of the church without compromising its beauty
and elegance. Once again, Saint Mary’s has reclaimed its place as one of the
architectural crown jewels of the booming downtown business district.
The Main Entrance
One of the most beautiful pieces of stone carving of all the South is located over our main entrance. A monolithic group carved in Ruckland refined rock made by the Ruckland Stone Company of Ruckville, Alabama, with a Romanesque setting. It is about eight feet wide. The group of figures in the stone depict biblical history when three kings, the Magi, followed the star to the east to Bethlehem, and found the Messiah in the stable that "first" Christmas night.
On February 27, 1955, the main Altar was consecrated by Archbishop Joseph P. Hurley. It is known as the Altars of Preservation of the Blessed Sacrament. Relics of Saints Peregrinus and Clarus were placed in the Sepulchre. Also installed in the sanctuary were the baldachin with four kneeling angels on top. Approximately 25 tons of marble were imported from Italy for the installation, main Altar, Predella (The step, or raised secondary part, of an altar forming a border or frame at the foot of an altarpiece), four marble columns, two side Altars, communion rail, and Ambo.
The baldachin (a stone or marble structure built in the form of a canopy, especially over the altar of a church) is made of American Black Walnut. Panels in the Baldachin depict the Fruit and the Vine. The symbol of the Queenship of Mary adorns the center panel. The dome and cross atop the baldachin are adorned with fish scales and covered in 24 karat gold. The four angels kneeling in adoration on the corners of the baldachin are also adorned in 24 karat gold.
The Heraldic Emblems
The heraldic emblems of the twelve Apostles appear above the sanctuary.
The Sanctuary Lamp
The sanctuary lamp, complete with bracket and crucifix, were fashioned in Italy. It is considered a beautiful work of art. The sanctuary lamp burns 24 hours a day, seven days a week in honor of the presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist located in the Tabernacle.