Two Fishy Tales to End Your Tour

Baptism of Chirst Window in the Bookshop showing John the Baptist baptising Jesus with St Simon and St Jude in the side panels

The bookshop under St Marie’s bell tower was once the church’s baptistry and, fittingly, includes a window depicting the Baptism of Christ.

The window’s left hand panel shows St Simon the Zealot, one of the lesser known of Jesus’ twelve Apostles, holding a fish.

According to tradition, Simon and another apostle, Jude, who is shown in the right hand panel, introduced Christianity to Persia, now Iran, and other parts of the region.

The fish symbolises Simon’s role as a “Fisher of men,” or gatherer of believers, taken from the Gospel of Luke.

This window commemorates the 40th anniversary of the marriage of John Bernascone and Lavinia Thorpe – members of two families that were among the major donors to St Marie’s.

The Bernascones came to Sheffield from Switzerland in 1920 and established an opticians, cutlery and hardware business in Waingate.

John Bernascone was the last person to run the family firm, which ceased to trade after he retired. Following his death, Lavinia gave the angel, carved from alabaster, which is on the right hand column at the entrance to the St Joseph Chapel.

Lavinia’s family, the Thorpes, established a confectionery and cake business in Fargate, which later grew to incorporate a restaurant, grill room and tea rooms, in addition to providing catering for events and delivering cakes, confectionery and other food products to homes across the Sheffield area.

Lavinia donated the stained glass window showing Jesus blessing the childrento the right of the great West Window, in memory of her mother, Jane Thorpe, who died on August 9 1901. The inscription reads: ” Pray for the repose of the soul of Jane Thorpe, who died Aug 9 1901, in whose memory this window erectedby her daughter Mrs Bernasconi.

Jane, in turn, had donated the Guardian Angels window to the left of the door in the North Aisle and paid for the Sacred Heart Shrine in the North Transept, which cost a total of £300 or £40,650 in today’s money.

Stained glass window showing Jesus blessing the children.
Guardian Angel Window in the North Aisle.
Sacred Heart Shrine

St Roch, the pilgrim and his scallop shell badge

Saint Roch
The scallop shell

All the saints depicted in the headstops on the right hand side of St Marie’s Nave are male, while those on the left are female.

The saint above the second pillar on the male side of the nave is St Roch, who has a scallop shell – the badge of a pilgrim – on his hat.

The scallop shell is traditionally worn by pilgrims taking part in the Camino, a pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Santiago di Compostella, where the remains of the Apostle St James the Great are said to be buried.

St Roch was born in France in the 14th century, but travelled to northern Italy, where he cared for plague victims.

Legend has it that he retreated to a forest after becoming victim to the plague himself and that he was looked after by a dog in the forest who brought him bread and licked the plague sore on his thigh until the saint recovered.