The Parish of St. Paul the Apostle is blessed with an architecturally significant building, designed by John Sutcliffe, which is conducive both to the celebration of the liturgies of the Church throughout the Christian year and the teaching of the faithful through art and sacred space. It lends itself to private devotion, parish liturgies and ceremonial extravaganzas. We encourage you to kneel and pray, light a candle and join us in praying for the peace and unity of the Church, the nation and all in authority, the welfare of the world, the needs of local communities, those who suffer, and the departed.
As you enter the main doors of the church into the narthex there is a statue of our Patron, St. Paul. Carved from linden wood in northern Italy by the studio of Conrad Moroder, it was given in 1990 by Sam Paul Simpson in memory of his mother. St. Paul is dressed in the robes of a teacher and the cloak of a traveler. He is shown with a large sword, the instrument of his martyrdom, and a large book of scripture, from which he preached and to which his epistles would be added by the Church.
Upon entering the nave, from the Latin navis for ship, look up and you will see roof trusses, which resemble a ship’s hull.
Immediately in front, as you enter the nave door, is the baptismal font. Made of stone in the neo-gothic style it dates from the 1907 construction of the building. It is near the entrance of the church building as a physical reminder that through baptism we enter the Body of Christ, which is the Church.
Just to the right of the font, near the west wall, is a large wooden light box that contains a stained glass window of St. Paul. This window came from the previous church building at Duffy and Barnard Streets, built in 1888. It is an excellent example of southern Victorian painted glass, and a striking feature is the use of pieces of faceted glass, which give it a jewel-like quality. It was rediscovered during remodeling of the Chapel of Our Lady of Walsingham, where it had been hidden behind the reredos for 87 years. This discovery is discussed in the history portion of this guide.
To the right of the 1888 window is an icon written in Greece depicting St. George the Martyr slaying the dragon. From earliest times St. George has been venerated as a soldier saint, and became patron of England because of his popularity among crusaders who encountered his cult in Palestine.
Above the 1888 window of St. Paul is the second oldest work in stained glass to be found in the building. Executed in 1907 by the Franz Mayer stained glass studio of Munich, Germany, it was given by the Grainger family in memory of their infant son Andrew. This is the only window, which dates from the building of the present structure. It was not until much later that the temporary leaded art glass that once filled the windows was replaced by the current stained glass created by Whipple-Mowbray of Exeter, England.
If you look east from the west end of the building your eyes will be drawn to the central architectural focus of the building, the High Altar surmounted by a reredos and the great east window. Entrance to this space is gained by passing through the great rood and the attendant screen, which dominate the nave. The rood, the screen, and the reredos, which dominates the chancel and sanctuary, were fashioned as a piece by craftsmen trained in Oberammergau, Germany. The three-dimensional image of Christ on the cross, flanked by the Blessed Virgin and St. John, is a spectacular backdrop for the liturgy of the Word. Framed by a great brick arch that separates the nave from the choir, the stark simplicity of the carved and stained oak speaks powerfully of the centrality of the Cross.
The Rood’s haunting and embracing depiction of the Crucifixion is held in tension with the Cross of the Resurrection reigning over the sanctuary from the reredos of the High Altar. In contrast to the rood, the Cross of the Resurrection is gilded and polychrome. This venerable art form enhances the beauty of the church and focuses our attention.
At the center of this Cross is the Lamb Triumphant carrying the banner of the Resurrection, surrounded by a quatrefoil. The circle that encompasses the quatrefoil at the center of the Cross emphasizes the unity of God. Out of the circle grows a passion vine, which forms the four arms of the Cross. This indicates that the good news of the resurrection is rooted in the passion of our Lord upon the Cross.
The reredos is flanked by statues of St. Peter and St. Paul, which were added during the Second World War. St. Peter is holding the keys of the kingdom and St. Paul carries the sword of his martyrdom.
To the right of the reredos and above the credence table is an icon of Jesus, Mary and John the Baptist, known in the language of iconography as the Deis. Written by Ramona MacKinnnon it focuses on the Incarnation and the three persons most intimately involved in unfolding the mystery so central to the proclamation of Christianity and Anglican spirituality.
On the south wall of the Sanctuary, above the Sedilia is a Silk Altar cloth embroidered in gold bullion which was made for the high altar of the Catholikon in the Church of the Anastasis, Jerusalem (often known as the Church of the Holy Sepulcher). Crafted in the early twentieth century it was a gift of Constance Lynes in 1992, to mark the 100th anniversary of St. Paul’s second advent as a Parish of the Diocese of Georgia.
The chancel and the sanctuary contain several pieces of furniture, which originated with the 1888 church building. These include the eagle lectern on the left side of the rood screen, the Bishop’s Throne on the dais against the north wall of the sanctuary, the Sedilia on the south wall of the sanctuary and the Dean’s Sedilia in front of the Rood Screen and to the left of the lectern. While we do not know the origin of these pieces of church furniture, they are common examples of the type produced by many English and American church-furnishing companies of the period. The eagle lectern is a fine example of late Victorian carving. It lends dignity and power to the space set aside for the reading of scripture. The chairs bear the mark of machine turning, using a small repertoire of crosses, triangles and quatrefoils that coordinate nicely with the later work .
The present organ is a combination instrument. The pipes and wind chests were manufactured by Famiglia Artigiana Fratelli Ruffatti of Padua, Italy. The three manual console, built by Rodgers of Hillsboro, Oregon, controls the pipes and provides the electronic sampling which fills out the 45 ranks, which the organist can use in creating music. The Ruffatti family has been building instruments since 1936 in the 300 year tradition of late Medieval and Renaissance Venetian Organ building. Their scaling’s are based on the insights of the great organ builder, Gaetanon Callido (1760-1810)and current research form around the world. Fratelli Ruffatti work’s include all of the organs in the Vatican as well as many Cathedrals in Europe and the Americas.
The Italian pipe organ tradition is an art form which places its emphasis on gentle song like quality. Italian principals have always been buoyantly warm and round-toned and the flutes have a distinctive “singing” quality. Designed for the American market it is an eclectic instrument, which has the ability to successfully play all periods of organ composition, making it excellent for recitals as well as the support and encouragement of congregational singing. The basic instrument was built in 1976. It currently contains 43 speaking stops, 16 of which are electronic. Twenty-four ranks of 1,403 individual pipes comprise the heart of the organ. It is divided into four divisions — the great, the swell, the pedal and the choir/positive. The last two are digitally sampled. In 1998 the instrument was overhauled and restored by A. E. Schlueter Pipe Organ of Lithonia, Georgia. A digital console manufactured by Rodgers Organ Company was made available through the generosity of the people of St. Paul’s and a generous gift of Gordon C. Carson, III, MD, sometime organist of St. Paul’s. Also, through the generosity of Arthur and Susan Schlueter, the restorer added a nine-bell zimbelstern and upgraded the speakers and amplifiers to take advantage of the full capacity of the new Rodgers Console. Because of storm damage in 2009, A.E. Schlueter Pipe Organ Co. rebuilt the Swell Chest, restored the Great and reconstructed the wind regulators, as well as cleaned the pipes. In addition new relay and interface driver boards manufactured by Walker Technical Company were used to replace the original Rodgers components that connect the console to the pipes.
To the left of the chancel and the sanctuary is the entrance to the Chapel of Our Lady of Walsingham. Classically the chapel to the left of the high altar in English churches is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, Mother of our Lord. The title under which this chapel is designated refers to the 11th century appearance of the Blessed Virgin to the Lady of the Norfolk Manor, Walsingham Minor.
Carved in 1963, the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham, to the right of the body of the chapel, depicts her as enthroned on the seven-post chair of Wisdom. Crowned, holding a scepter of lilies and pointing to the child Jesus, she presents her Son to the world. It replaces a Statue carved in 1977 for St. Paul’s, given by Ann and Clint Morris that became wholly charred during Lent of 2006 when a votive candle glass broke and caught the Lenten veil on fire. The 1963 statue came from All Saints’ Church, Orange NJ where it had been secured by Fr.William Wetherall, long time Secretary-General of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, when he was Rector of the Parish. Upon the closing of All Saints we were given the privilege of giving the statue a new home, partly because the Dean has served as Secretary-General of the Confraternity since 1997. The previous 1977 statue now resides under a glass dome in the Canon T. Porter Ball Memorial Parish House Vestibule where she greets most visitors who have business with the Parish.
To the right of the statue, above the rack of seven-day vigil lamps, is a triptych recounting our Lady’s visitation at Little Walsingham Manor, painted by Ann Gilkey Morris; a lifelong member of the parish. The left panel shows the Lady of the Manor, Richeldis de Faverches, being told by the Blessed Virgin to build a copy of the Holy House of Nazareth in Walsingham Minor, the middle panel shows the current configuration of the Pilgrim’s Church which contains the Holy House and the Well, and the right panel depicts the sign of Holy Water given to Lady Richeldis to mark the site of Holy House.
In addition to the objects of devotion associated with the Shrine of Walsingham the chapel also contains a painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe and an icon of St. Joseph on the north wall. On the East Wall of the Chapel Sanctuary are the statues of Martha of Bethany and Elizabeth of Hungary on either side of the reredos, and a tabernacle at the center of the retable, along with the Shrine of Panteleimon to the left of the Reredos and an icon of St. Mark the Evangelist, traditional founder of the Church in Egypt to its right.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, is patroness of the Americas, and bears witness to the gifts and witness of the Latino/Hispanic members of the Parish; she was painted in Peru in 2000.
Written by William Willoughby III – Dean and Rector, in 1998, St. Joseph is present because of the important role he played in the unfolding of the mystery of the incarnation. This icon shows the foster father and guardian of our Lord presenting the child Jesus to the world. It reminds us of the important role men play in the nurture and rearing of children.
Martha of Bethany, sister of Mary and Lazarus, calls to mind all who have served the Lord in this parish and community. Elizabeth of Hungary, patroness of the Third Order Franciscans and lover of the poor, challenges the parish to consider the needs of those less fortunate than ourselves and the needs of all God’s creatures. The noted muralist Barry Thomas, a native of Glasgow, Scotland, painted the Tabernacle Door at the heart of the reredos in 1988. Until his death in 1991 he maintained an active studio in Savannah for more than twenty years. This was one of his last works. The focus of the painting is a chalice and host, surrounded by adoring angels — reminding us that we sing “with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven.”
The Shrine of St. Panteleimon contains the holy oil used in the Sacrament of Unction, which is practiced regularly at St. Paul’s. A Martyr and Physician, Pateleimon was murdered by other physicians because he made his skills available to the poor for free. The Icon was written in 1994 at the St. Petersburg Theological Academy, Russia and is a gift of Jan and Canon Robert Carter.
The Icon of St. Mark the Evangelist is written in the style of the ancient Coptic Orthodox Church. Author of the Gospel of Mark and apostolic founder of the Church in Egypt, St. Mark is shown writing in the presence of the Pharos, the great light house of Alexandria (the See of the Patriarch) and a Lion, which is his heraldic symbol. The Icon was given by St. Abanoub’s Coptic Orthodox Church which meets monthly at St. Paul’s. It is a thank offering to the people of St. Paul’s in recognition of our providing a liturgical home for them in Savannah.
In the north transept are two icons of note and a Christus Rex. On the freestanding altar dedicated to St. Augustine, first Archbishop of Canterbury and Apostle to the Anglo-Saxons, is an icon of Jesus Christ, the True Vine. Written in Bethlehem and brought back from the Holy Land by Mary and Dean Willoughby in 2009. This icon depicts Jesus as the True Vine (John 15:5) and the Apostles are the branches that went out in the world to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Jesus is at the center of the vine with outstretched arms giving a Blessing in the manner of the Eastern Church with fingers of both hands forming the Greek letter ” IC XC”, an abbreviation for Jesus Christ. In our Lord’s lap is an open Book of the Gospels and in His halo are the Greek letters of the words “I AM”, reminding us that He is the God of Abraham, Issac, Jacob, Moses and the Prophets – the groundwork of Existence itself and the source of life, as well as the root of faith. On either side of Jesus Divine face is the four Evangelists with their gospels open. They are surmounted by the leaders of the Apostles, Peter and Paul and above our Lord’s Head is the Father and the Holy Spirit, while the rest of the branches are occupied by Apostles holding Epistles and blessing all who honor the name of Jesus.
The Christus Rex (Jesus reigning from the Cross as King) reminds us that the sacrifice of the Mass is not just about our Lord’s death and passion but Jesus mighty resurrection and glorious ascension (BCP pg.335). An ancient symbol of the Church it emphasizes the Lord of Glory. To quote Richard Harries, Bishop of Oxford, “his eyes are open and head upright, and his arms stretch firmly outwards. He looks boldly to the front, not so much constrained by the cross, as superimposed upon it. The contrast is deliberately made with Judas hanging on the tree, the thirty pieces of silver spilled onto the ground at his feet. . .Judas is dead and defeated, but Christ is alive with the life of triumphant love. . . .Over. . .anger and sadness and death the love of God wins through.” It was given in memory of James L. and May Perry Bracey in 1976.
The second Icon depicts the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Lady of Tenderness. Written by Louise H. Shipps, Artist and Iconographer, it was given in celebration of her husband, Harry Woolston Shipp’s, ministry in Georgia, on Epiphany 2007, the anniversary of his ordination to the Episcopate.
In the south transept is the shrine of Our Lady Queen of Peace, erected during the Second World War by the acolytes of the Parish as a place of special intercession for those serving their country in the armed forces. Every Tuesday a Mass was said at this altar with special intention for those serving from the Parish. A bronze plaque was erected in memory of those who did not return from the various theaters. Starting with the first Gulf War and continuing with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan a Mass is celebrated at this altar every Monday with special intention for those who serve in our Armed Forces, especially those in harm’s way. The statue at the heart of the shrine was carved by a Sister of the American Mother House of the All Saints Sisters of the Poor in Catonsville, Maryland.
Just to the right of the Shrine altar is the icon of Holy Wisdom written by Peter Pearson, Iconographer and Priest. It was given in memory of Billie Carpenter Petway, longtime Director of Christian Education, by the children and teachers of the Church School in 1995. Wisdom (Hagia Sophia) is shown in this icon as coming from on high through the mediation of Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity. She is seated on a throne supported by the seven pillars of wisdom and is attended by John the Baptist, forerunner of our Lord, and Mary, Mother of God (Theotokos). Surrounded by water and the firmament, Wisdom connects the uncreated with the created.
Around the perimeter of the nave is a set of fourteen Stations of the Cross for devotional use in the service known as the Way of the Cross. Traditionally the stations are made before a series of plain wooden crosses, which can be seen above each pictorial representation. The representations are meant to be aids in carrying out this ancient devotion so closely associated with the holy city, Jerusalem.