September 9 (feast day)
Saint Osburg’s official feast day according to the Catholic Church is the 30th of March but it is
celebrated on the 9th of September at Saint Osburg's, the day the church was dedicated in 1845.
Saint of the day:
The Story of Saint Osburga
Abbess of a convent at Coventry, England, which had been founded by King Canute. Her shrine was a popular place of pilgrimage during the Middle Ages because of the many miracles reported there.
Saint Osburga, who founded a nunnery which was reportedly the first settlements in the Coventry. Refounded by Leofric and Godiva in 1043 after it's destruction by the Vikings, Osburga's monastery grew into the city's first Cathedral of St Mary, and her shrine was venerated and became a place of pilgrimage throughout the Middle Ages.
St Osburg's Church, Coventry
Barras Ln, Coventry CV1 4AQ, United Kingdom (England)
The church is appropriately dedicated to Coventry's local saint, St Osburga, who founded a nunnery, the first settlement in the city and was buried here in 1018. Refounded by Leofric and Godiva in 1043 after it's destruction by the Vikings, Osburga's monastery grew into the city's first Cathedral of St Mary, and her shrine was venerated and became a place of pilgimage throughout the Middle Ages. The tragic loss of Coventry's first cathedral at the Dissolution has left her grave with no marker, and we can only speculate as to where exactly she might have been laid to rest. In an act of continuity her image is included amongst other Midland saints towards the bottom of John Hutton's engraved glass screen in the present Cathedral.
St Osburg's was built in 1843-5 to the designs of Charles Hansom, one of his many Catholic church commissions found across the country. As a design the building is fairly ordinary, run of the mill Victorian Gothic, with a southwest tower crowned by a tall broach spire which makes the church a landmark in this otherwise mainly residential area of the city. No doubt the furnishings and glass were much the same as those of numerous other Victorian Catholic churches in this country, though history had other ideas here.
The night of November 14th 1940 will be etched into this city's collective memory forever as it experienced the most concentrated aerial bombardment Britain had yet suffered during World War II. The best known victim was of course the Cathedral of St Michael, other churches fared better, but St Osburg's did not escape. Unlike the cathedral which was destroyed by the inferno caused by incendaries, the damage here was wrought by high explosive bombs which brought down much of the roof and masonry at the east end, along with shattering all the windows and wrecking furnishings inside. The church remained a partial ruin until it was made fit for services again in 1944, with the bombed out ruin of the chancel partioned off from the more intact nave, pending a more thorough restoration.
The church's postwar restoration enhanced the building considerably by adding some magnificent new artworks. The rich stained glass throughout the church dates from the 1950s and is the work of Earley Studios of Dublin, betraying strong influence of the style of renowned Irish glass artist Harry Clarke (though post-dating his death by many years). The end walls of both chapels (Our Lady and St Benedict's) flanking the sanctuary, where the war damage had been most severe, were remodelled and adorned with mosaics that act as a reredos in each case, with the main pictoral elements rendered in opus sectile.
Some of the surviving Victorian decoration was lost however, a Hardman's mural over the chancel arch, showing Christ in Majesty flanked by attendant saints, was removed (or painted over) as were some stencilled accents around the statues and stations of the Cross (these latter elements were reinstated more recently).
Today the interior gleams following it's latest restoration in 2010-11, which has involved redecoration, repaving and some striking new furnishings in the sanctuary.