St. Marie’s is a cathedral rich in symbolic decoration. This decoration includes representation of more than fifty saints. Saints are honoured in the Catholic tradition; their lives provide examples of living faith and inspiration.
Of primary importance in the Cathedral is Mary (St. Marie) herself. Honoured as the greatest of the saints, there are numerous dedications to her throughout the Cathedral. These include the great East window (which sets out her life story), the marble statue in the Munster Chapel, the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, the shrine of Our Lady, and the reredos behind the altar. St. Marie’s, and the diocese of Hallam, are both dedicated to Mary.
Also of note is the representation of St. Joseph, Mary’s spouse. The Norfolk Chapel is dedicated to St. Joseph, and the altarpiece details his death taking place in the early adult life of Jesus. Numerous other representations detail the fatherly care and attention displayed by St. Joseph in the formation of Jesus’ early life, others emphasise St. Joseph as a working man.
As an English church, many of the saints represented are of English descent. These include St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher – prominent martyrs of the 15th Century who were executed in London, and Robert Ludlam and Nicholas Garrick, known as the Padley Martyrs. Of particular note in Derbyshire and South Yorkshire, these two priests were martyred in Derby after their arrest in a Padley safe house. The Hallam Window in the South Transpect shows these two martyrs in priestly vestments. The names of other English martyrs are also detailed over the arches spanning the main aisle of the Cathedral.
Another English saint of note is St. Edward the Confessor, who is represented in both stone and stained glass. As King of England from 1042-1066, he was known for his peity, generosity to the poor and accessibility to others. He is perhaps best known for founding Westminster Abbey.
St. Marie’s also highlights the importance of the international community in its historic life and formation. A represented saint of note is St. Patrick, who has his statue in the South Transept. The Irish community have historically played an important part in the life of St. Marie’s and St. Patrick is their Patron Saint. The base of the statue is made of marble from Connemara.
In the Munster Chapel, the shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa serves as a memorial to Polish soldiers. It has played particular significance in the worship of Sheffield’s Polish community.