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The Church Contents and furnishings


While waiting for the completion of the church preparations were under way for the furbishings and a great deal of thought and hard work went into this task. This is evident even today when one enters the church. The following list of contents makes very interesting reading.


In 1966 the Liturgical Commission in Rome, presided over by Cardinal Lercaro, enunciated the principle that we should be brave enough not to permit into our churches objects of cult unless they were capable of being signed by individual craftsmen; this principle we have followed in furnishing our church. Indeed many of the furnishings were made by members of the parish.


The Altar was made by Maxwell Allan to a design of the architect Mr J McRoberts and is of green Westmorland slate on a plinth of Scottish granite. Its shape is that of many of the most primitive altars of the 4th and succeeding centuries in Rome and elsewhere. These consisted, very often, of a slab of marble on top of a piece of a pillar from a pagan temple. Thus even the unholy works of paganism were made to serve the one true God.

This altar is the gift of an Edinburgh lady who would be embarrassed at being named. It weighs two and a half tons.

The Altar Furnishings

Here and elsewhere in the building were designed and made by Alexander MacKenzie of Magdalene.


In the baptistry were similarly designed and made by Patrick Hoy of Magdalene.

here and in the weekday chapel and THE WOODEN LECTERNS were made and presented to the parish by the boys of St. Anthony´s school.

For the sanctuary was made to the design of the parish coat of arms by Matthew Lynch (junior) of the Jewel.

Was similarly made by Thomas Murphy of Bingham. (see more details in Contents Three page)

For the Mass book, the priest´s chair and the altar servers were designed and made by Miss G. Forsyth of Portobello. They also carry the parish coat of arms.

Is the gift of Mrs Hawryluk of Magdalene.

For both the church and the chapel was made and presented by a family in the parish.

This Pentocrator, or Christ in Majesty, was designed by Felix McCullough in mosaic and fibreglass on a green fibreglass cross devised by John Damer and Frank Dempsey of St. Andrew's School, Edinburgh.


The choice of this theme, which is to dominate the whole church, was dictated by the earliest practice of Christiandom, and is found in the most ancient churches of the Mediterranean area. It emphasises the fact that Christ is victor, and reigns triumphant in heaven as head of His new creation, the Church which is His Body. It underlines that His passage from death to life...The Pascal Mystery..is to be re-enacted in His member, i.e. in us.


The 30th day of December 1965. Praise to Thee, O Christ.

The Stations of The Cross, were executed by John Damer and Frank Dempsey in fibreglass on which have been mounted olive wood crosses which the parish priest brought back from Jerusalem when he made the pilgrimage there in 1964. Their cost was defrayed by parishioners.

The Madonna and Child, is the work of David Harding in ceramic mosaic in a style reminiscent of the Byzantine. In this tradition the Infant Jesus is never depicted as a helpless child, but as a miniature man...."the image of the invisible father"...Orr Lady is represented in her essential role of presenting her Son and Saviour to the world he is redeeming. This was a gift of anonymous benefactor

The Hymn Board is the work of Archibald Chisholm of Magdalene.

The Baptistry

The Font is made of the same materials as the altar, viz, slate and granite. The choice is no accident, as it is by Baptism we are brought to Life' by water and the Holy Spirit' and thus made capable of advancing from the tomb of the font to the banquet halls of the Risen Christ - the altar. By the water of Life we become fitted to receive the Bread of Life.

The font is a gift of the U.C.M and women of the parish and was made by Maxwell Allen. It is , in fact a 'fountain of living water'......this again is a return to the practice of the early Church, and in our own font the water actually flows through a stone brought back from the River Jordan

The Candle in the sconce in the "Easter or Pascal" candle. It is the symbol of Christ, the Light of the World. By Him we are enlightened, the darkness of sin banished, we are CHRISTENED... incorporated into Himself, the Church.

On the Floor of the Baptistry, there are two tiles, inset with many coloured stones... by which we can trace the the path of the Faith from the land of Christ to Scotland. These pebbles from the River Jordan where he began his public life of preaching and working miracles. There are stones from Bethany, the suburb of Jerusalem where he used to sojourn in the company of his friends, Lazarus, whom he raised from the dead, and his sisters, Martha and Mary (Magdalene?).

There are stones from the tomb of St. Peter in ROME where he went to his martyrdom by way of Antioch; from Catacombs of St. Callixtus in Rome, who was an early successor of St. Peter as Pope (3rd century); from the cave in Whithorn where the great St. Ninian lived before going to Rome to be consecrated as the first bishop in Scotland, in the 4th. century, and returning to become the apostle of the southern Picts. The little black stone is from Gartan in Dunegal, birthplace of St. Columba and the green stone from his island of Iona - his base in the 6th century for the conversion of the northern Picts.

In the Porch or Narthex, which is intended for the exchanges of friendship, essential for Christians before approaching the altar of God, is theHoly Water Stoup ...which is a reminder, as we bless ourselves before MAss, of our Baptism, by which we have access to the Father through Christ. In it, inscribed crosswise are the letters IXOUS or FISH. This symbol was used by the early Christiansas an act of Faith and as a means of identifying themselves as believers in Christ, for the Greek letters mean...'Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour´.

The Brass Bowl was the gift of Miss G. Forsyth, the lead lining was applied by Ian Parker of Magdalene and the lettering executed by James Gilhooley of Bingham.




Altar of oak decorated with the parish coat of arms is really a Crusader cross depicting the five wounds of Christ and is a gift of a parishioner.


St Mary Magdalene Parish Coat of Arms

  Coat of Arms  

The Crusader Cross, as shown on the front of the altar, is a heraldic or Christian symbol consisting of a large Greek cross surrounded by four smaller Greek crosses , one in each quadrant. Crusader Cross is so named because it was on the papal banner given to the Crusaders on the First Crusade and became a symbol of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. The four smaller crosses are said to symbolize either the four books of the Gospel or the four directions in which the Word of Christ spread from Jerusalem. Alternatively all five crosses can symbolize the five wounds of Christ during his Passion.


The large EMBROIDERY or rather´APPLIQUE´ work behind the altar is the work of Mrs Frances Parker and three ladies who worked under her expert direction......Mrs T. Urquart, Mrs Sibbald and Miss G. Forsyth....The theme of the embroidery is the Incarnation, of which the Eucharist is the continuation.


There are six panels, three on each side of the CRUCIFIX, which is a gift from St. Angela's Convent, Portobello. On the left...the Annunciation, the Birth of our Saviour, His Baptism by John at the beginning of His Preaching. On the right... the Resurrection, Ascension, and descent of the Holy Spirit on Our Lady and the Apostles.

These panels present the whole Pascal Mystery to us and its beginning in us. We are taken up into this work of the Incarnation through the Eucharist...´the Word was made flesh and pitched His tent among us´. The Latin for tent is TABERNACLE ..a gift from the Little Sisters of the Poor, Gilmore Place, Edinburgh, the OAK COVER of which was made by Lindsay Thomson, THE VEIL by Mrs T. Urquhart.


The SANCTUARY LAMP is a Mosque lamp from North Africa.

  sanctuary Lamp  

The CONFESSIONALS are the work of Thomas Thornton of Magdalene.


The HOLY WATER STOUP at the entrance of the weekday chapel is the work of Harry Bain of Dalkeith Road and is made of Scottish marble, the brown from Carlops, the green from Newburgh in Fife.

The PROCESSIONAL CROSS made of fibreglass is the work of Jan Boczarski.

The ACOLYTE CANDLESTICKS are the gift of Mrs Agnes Forsyth of Portobello.

The ALTAR LINENS are the gift of many convents in Edinburgh.

The VESTMENTS were subscribed for by the children of St. John´s School and some were made by good friends in Musselburgh who also presented AN ORGAN

The ALTAR PLATE was the donation of many benefactors.. Monsignor Monaghan, V.G., the Abbot of Fort Augustus, Little Sisters of the Assumption, Misses Mary Agnes and Miss Ella Maloney {R.I.P.} of Portobello, St. Christopher's School, The Apostolic Society of Thurles in Tipperary, and others who prefer to remain anonymous.


Parish Priest
Father Jock Dalrymple
0131 669 5447

    Design by Jean Douglas ©