ST. JOACHIM’S RC,
The more ancient history of Carmyle, or Kermil as it was also referred to, finds the land in the possession of the Church in the persons of the Bishops of Glasgow. It was transferred during the 12th century to the monks of Newbattle Abbey by Bishop Herbert – from whence came the later designation of Monkland, to the east of the city. It would appear to have been purchased back by Bishop John de Cheyam about a century later.
Like so many other areas in the west of Scotland, the Reformation and foundation of the Protestant Reformed Kirk saw the almost complete removal of the Catholic faith from Carmyle and the land transferred into secular hands. It was not until 1829 and the Catholic Emancipation Act that punitive laws against Catholicism were relaxed and the old Church begin to re-establish itself in Scotland. There had been an influx of Catholics from the Highlands as well as from Ireland during the progress of the Industrial Revolution and this was reflected in the growing population of Carmyle. However, it was not until the mid-20th century that numbers increased to the extent that the area warranted provision independent of St. Joseph’s Tollcross parish, of which it had until then formed a part.
From March, 1954 the priests of St. Joseph’s used the local Welfare Hall to provide services to the Catholics of Carmyle, with the parish being established under the patronage of St. Joachim in July. St. Joachim was the husband of St. Anne, mother of Mary. After twenty years of marriage, this virtuous couple of the royal house of David were still childless. Such a state was regarded with shame in the Jewish tradition and eventually Joachim was excluded from the Temple on a feast day because it was felt that his sacrifice would be unacceptable to God. Praying to the Lord for succour, an angel appeared assuring that a child would be born to them “whom all generations should bless.”
Carmyle Mains Steading farm on River Road was obtained and from a state of dereliction was transformed into a Chapel Hall over a 10 month period to June, 1955 by the local folk. Progress continued apace and a new church was built on an elevated piece of land at the end of Inzievar Terrace, opening in September, 1957 – the present St. Joachim’s. The parish is located within the Glasgow Archdiocese, although the village itself was not incorporated into the city until 1975 with the revision of local government boundaries. St. Joachim’s earliest home continues in existence as a pub – the Banks Bar.
Williamson et al (1990) describe St. Joachim’s as a “nicely unassuming grey brick box with a shallow copper roof, and a concrete bell frame creating the entrance. Diamond-shaped aisle windows below tall clearstorey ones.” The relative simplicity of the design, by Gillespie, Kidd & Coia, was also a consequence of the strictures upon building which survived well into the post-Second World War period. The bell frame has not stood the test of time – apparently, it can no longer stand up to the stresses of the use of the bell and so this has been discontinued. It is anticipated that tower will be illuminated in the future.
A recent addition to this tower by the present parish priest, Father James Doherty, is of large Icon of Christ. Since taking charge of the church on 8th June, 2003, Father Doherty, has taken great pains to sensitively change to the layout of the church to implement more fully the reforms recommended at, and since, the Second Vatican Council. There is undoubtedly contention within the Catholic Church as to what the reforms actually intended to take place and there are those who would argue that a considerable number of churches have been damaged by well-intentioned acts but misinterpreted guidance. Nevertheless, Father Doherty has a clear view as to how they should be undertaken and is in the process of enhancing St. Joachim’s as a place more conducive to developing worship. The overall impression is certainly one of a more minimal, cool and serene interior space but one which utilises artworks to enhance the experience of the congregation.
The interior of the church, with its plastered walls in shades of slate and tile floor, Choir and shallow barrel-vaulted roof over the nave is simple in its design, but to some extent this belies the inherent complexity of the layout of the interior for the purpose for which it was built.
The Lady Chapel space, which had been located in a single transept to the west side of the chancel, is now a Blessed Sacrament Chapel. The Tabernacle itself originates from the portable temple used as a place of worship which the Israelites were commanded to carry with them in their early, nomadic period following the Exodus. Within the Church it is a receptacle for the storage of the Blessed Sacrament, that is Holy Communion which is primarily reserved for the dying and the sick, and for communion services. It is also the subject of private and public devotion. Again, there is debate about where the Tabernacle should be located within a church but the provision of the side chapel for the purpose of devotion has been put into effect in St. Joachim’s. This location is further enhanced for its purpose by a red lantern representing the Sacramental Presence of Christ, and two stained glass windows. The first has a depiction of a chalice and Hosts, the cup of wine of the Eucharist. The second shows three stalks of wheat surrounded by bunches of grapes – the sources of the bread and wine which become the Sacrament of Christ in Catholic dogma. These windows, with those in the vestibule and at the Baptistery, are by Moira Parker of Rainbow Glass.
A fine statue of Mary is currently located at a small shrine at the rear of the nave. Unusually, this is the only statue within the main body of the church, although another of it’s patron, St. Joachim, has been ordered. There are several icons of a Byzantine style located throughout the church, on the pulpit and in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. The crucifix in the sanctuary is out of proportion with the dimensions of the setting and a new, Byzantine cross has been commissioned to replace it. This is one of several alterations which Father Doherty anticipates making in the Sanctuary.
The carved wooden Stations of the Cross are of particularly good quality. They were hand carved and decorated in Glasgow by Burns Oates Retail Ltd at the time of the church’s construction. A 15th Station has been added to the sequence in St. Joachim’s, depicting Jesus rising from the Tomb.
There are plans afoot, and designs already created, to fill the remaining three clear diamond shaped windows on the west side of the nave with stained glass celebrating the work of St. Faustina, a favourite of the late Pope John Paul II, and who was canonised in 2000. Again, Rainbow Glass has been commissioned to undertake the work. In the shallow Choir, no longer used for its original purpose, are two stained glass windows by Nina Miller Davidson, representing St. Joachim and St. Anne. Both depict an angel announcing the birth to come. St. Joachim’s window also shows his expulsion from the Temple while St. Anne’s includes a representation of her and her daughter Mary.
The vestibule, illuminated by three diamond-shaped windows with stained glass, houses a Baptistery and a painting by William Crosbie - “The Annunciation of the Lord.” The latter was previously located on a redundant side altar. Crosbie is also responsible for the baldacchino – as he was in several Coia churches in east Glasgow. This is a canopy on columns, made in a variety of materials, usually over the altar. The St. Joachim baldacchino is fixed directly to the ceiling of the sanctuary and is inlaid in silver. Three interwoven fish represent the Trinity, while the Evangelists take traditional animal forms as an eagle (St. John), an angel (St. Matthew), a bull (St. Luke) and a lion (St. Mark) . Father Doherty has plans to add long and unobtrusive pendant lights to accentuate the baldacchino .
Carmyle has always been a relatively isolated community, maintaining the feel of a village, albeit one with its roots in industrialisation. St. Joachim’s is still a relatively young congregation serving that community and the building can certainly be described as a work in progress.
Adoremus Bulletin – Society for the Renewal of the Sacred Liturgy. Online Edition – Various Volumes including; “Cry Sanctuary,” “Where Should We Put The Tabernacle,” and “The State of Art and Architecture Reform.” - www.adoremus.org
Rogerson, Robert W.K.C. (1986); “Jack Coia, His Life and Work.” Edinburgh, Lindsay & Co., Ltd.
“Solemn Opening of St. Joachim’s Church, Carmyle, Glasgow.” Souvenir Brochure. Glasgow, John S. Burns & Sons.
Williamson, E., Riches, A., & Higgs, M., (1990); "The Buildings of Scotland - Glasgow." Penguin Books in association with The National Trust for Scotland.
© 2005 Gordon Adams
St. Joachim & St Anne windows.
Stained glass within the Blessed Sacrament Chapel
"Annunciation of the Lord" by William Crosbie
NOTES: Updated for 1st September, 2010.
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