Glory Be to God for the Brompton Oratory

by David Clayton on January 15, 2011

The magazine Dappled Things asked me to write about an occasion when I had been affected by the beauty of a sacred place. I decided to write about my first ever experience of the liturgy at the London Oratory (also known at the Brompton Oratory). This sublime experience opened the door first to my conversion and then, beyond that inspired me to try to contribute to the re-establishment of a Catholic culture of beauty rooted in the liturgy. (I have always had an attitude that if you aim high then even if you only make it half way, that that’s still quite good.)

Normally people have to subscribe to their online edition, but they decided to make an exception for this special edition. It is one of the features under the heading Sacred Places.





{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Matthew James Collins January 15, 2011 at 11:49 am

What a beautiful church. It is definitely a must visit on my next trip to London. It seems like the Baroque touched you from the very beginning.


DAVID CLAYTON January 15, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Hi Matt – yes it is. The funny thing is that in fact it is average Victorian neo-baroque, but because it is so obviously prayed in and suited to the liturgy, it just comes alive in a way that art in a gallery, even by much greater artists doesn’t. Because of this, I used to take people from Cecil Studios up to the seminary of the Institute of Christ the King, a 20 minute train ride out of Florence. Their seminary is a baroque villa (complete with carp in the moat) and their liturgy is the Extraordinary Form in beautiful plainchant. In the light of my experience with the Oratory I felt that experience of this would nourish in me, and perhaps awaken in them that spiritual part that needs to be alive in order to paint in the baroque style. That was my thinking anyway.


Matthew James Collins January 16, 2011 at 5:14 am

I couldn’t agree more. Did it work with any of them?


DAVID CLAYTON January 16, 2011 at 7:17 am

Well quite a few came along with me more than once. They enjoyed the trip (it is a beautiful place) and those who were already firm Catholics accepted the argument. As to the non-Catholics, I’m not sure. I hope it planted a seed


Nancy January 16, 2011 at 4:27 pm

David, I also can’t wait to go the Oratory. I must admit I am very curious about your reply comment on the “spiritual part that needs to be alive in order to paint in the Baroque style.” Could you explain that in more detail?


DAVID CLAYTON January 16, 2011 at 4:31 pm

Hi Nancy, yes it is well worth the trip, you’ll love it. Can you be more specific about your curiosity regarding the spiritual part reference? David


Nancy January 16, 2011 at 5:03 pm

I am just wondering about your reply above in which you were talking about taking people to the baroque villa – Seminary of Christ the King in order to “awaken in them the spiritual part that needs to be alive in order to paint in the baroque style.” I am curious because it seems to imply that in order to paint baroque well there needs to be some spiritual formation or understanding there. I am wondering if you could explain in your opinion what spirituality they need. I hope that makes more sense!


Nancy January 16, 2011 at 6:30 pm

David, I was just wondering what it meant. Thanks for the interesting explanation! I agree we all need to be open to inspiration to fulfill our vocation – or at least pray for the grace to be open! Peace, Nancy


FRANCOIS DE LA ROCHEFOUCAULD May 14, 2012 at 10:47 am

Brompton Oratory is a sham; a fake. It is vulgar, pretentious and untruthful,
looking as if it’s bounced across from Rome and landed, like some bizarre
UFO, where it shouldn’t! We have the stupid Victorians to thank for it:
a tasteless display of their typical excess and extravagance. Christ would be


David Clayton May 17, 2012 at 11:09 am

Ouch! …but what a privelege to have such a comment from someone who feels qualified to speak for Christ on the matter.


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