Cathedral renovation reveals rare 15th Century carvings

Seven 15th c alabaster carvings were discovered during restoration work at St. Marie's Roman Catholic Cathedral, Sheffield Seven alabaster carvings discovered during restoration work at St. Marie's Roman Catholic Cathedral had not been seen for 42 years

Seven rare 15th Century alabaster carvings have been discovered during restoration work at a Sheffield cathedral.

The carvings were discovered in a sacristy cupboard at St. Marie's Roman Catholic Cathedral on Norfolk Street.

They depict scenes from the life of Christ, including his arrest.

Father Chris Posluszny, dean of the cathedral, said many carvings were exported in medieval times but were destroyed during the Reformation.

"This is a rare find. To have so many doesn't often arise," he said.

The carvings are small - each is about the size of a piece of A4 paper - but Father Posluszny said they were very detailed.

'Beautifully carved'

He said: "There are so many figures, so beautifully carved and telling so many stories of what's in the scriptures in just one scene.

"The carving of Christ's arrest includes Judas' betrayal, St Peter running away, three soldiers, and a man whose ear was cut off, reaching out to be healed."

Seven 15th century alabaster carvings were discovered during restoration work at St. Marie's Roman Catholic Cathedral, Sheffield The carvings depict the life of Christ and stories from the scriptures

The carvings are believed to have been donated to the church when it was being built in the 1840s.

They were on the underside of an altar in the Mortuary Chapel until 1970.

"They were removed from the altar and replaced by an effigy of Father Pratt who built the church, until 1970 when they were put up for sale," explained Father Posluszny.

However, the carvings became lost after they failed to sell at auction.

"Nobody, not even the Historic Churches Committee, knew where they were," said Father Posluszny.

"When we found seven boxes in the Flower Sacristy we assumed it was just the usual junk, but when I had a look, it was the missing alabaster carvings covered in 42 years worth of dust."

The carvings have now been insured for £30,000.

Once restored, they will be displayed in the cathedral cloister.

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