Readers of Our Lady of the Portal Church Bulletin will be familiar with seeing “& Our Lady Star of the Sea & St Anthony” in the heading, and for years St Mawes was represented in our Parish Pastoral Council. However, it may surprise some of you to know that St Mawes has for a long time been a parish in its own right. Although small in number, in summer it plays host to a much larger congregation, as visitors flock to this picturesque seaside village.
The Church there has a chequered history. It was originally built for a break-away Methodist group known as “Bible Christians” and started life as their Chapel, the first service being held on Christmas Day 1875.
After the Bible Christians reunited with the Methodists in 1932, the Chapel fell into disuse and lay empty five years before the small Catholic community raised £750 (more than 7 times the average working man’s annual wage at the time) to buy, restore and extend the empty building. The first Mass was celebrated in 1938, but the village did not have a priest in residence.
A Presbytery was built in 1946 which accommodated visiting priests before the first resident priest, Mgr. Harold Shepherd CBE, was installed in 1956. The Centenary of the church was celebrated on 6 May 1975 with a special ecumenical service.
The church itself is a stone building, fairly plain and simple inside as befits its origins, and is a bit of a steep climb from the harbour. It makes for a pleasant visit down-river from Truro especially when it’s warm and sunny – and as all who have been on one of past parish trips will recall, our St Mawes family and Fr Terence have always been such excellent and welcoming hosts on those occasions!