St Mary’s Church in Monmouth took part in the European Heritage Open Doors event on the weekend of 9-10 September.
The annual celebration offers both local people and visitors alike the chance to explore the hidden treasures of Wales’s culture and history.
The parish of St Mary’s in Monmouth is the earliest post-Reformation Catholic public place of worship to be permitted in Wales.
It was designated a Grade II listed building in 1974 and is one of 24 building on the Monmouth Heritage Trail.
After the sixteenth century, Monmouth was a centre for recusancy and in 1773 the town had one of the highest proportions of Catholics in England and Wales.
The church is noted for its association with St John Kemble who was a missionary in Monmouthshire and Herefordshire. He was martyred at Hereford on 22 August 1679. The parish organises a pilgrimage to his grave on the nearest Sunday to the date of his death.
The church also includes an altar dedicated to the saint’s memory, which was used for the celebration of Mass during Penal times at Pembridge Castle. The altar consists of two benches that could be separated to disguise its purpose.
The parish displayed its fourteenth century processional cross, an embroidered red chasuble dating from around 1502, a hinged cross from the seventeenth century, thought to be of Spanish origin over the weekend.
This year, as part of the Open Doors event and as part of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, St Mary’s also displayed a Lampedusa Cross on the sanctuary to raise awareness of the refugee crisis.
Visitors were offered prayer cards to write their personal messages of hope to be shared with refugees.