Friday November 5th: Courage to change
November 5, 2021
Saturday November 6th: Let us Serve Him
November 6, 2021

Our Beautiful Churches: St Vincent Ferrer RC, Moruga

By Rudylynn De Four Roberts

I was asked to visit this church and advise regarding restoration works. I had not been to Mourga since I was a child and immediately relaxed as we drove along the country roads. So peaceful.

As we approached the church, I stared in surprise. I expected a country church like Tortuga RC or Mission Village in Toco. I felt a sense of excitement. It was awesome! It was a miniature of St Francis of Assisi Church in Belmont. The basic massing of the front façade appears to be inspired by this church. The upper part of the bell tower reflects similar detailing, as seen at the Church of St Francis of Assisi in Assisi, Italy. The exterior walls of the entire church are scored to resemble large stippled masonry blocks laid in an evenly coursed ashlar pattern.

Designed by Architect George Brown in the Romanesque revival style with gothic structural buttresses, this church has an air of dignity and dominance unusual for a country parish church in Trinidad from that period. The imposing structure owes its existence to the then parish priest, Fr Joseph Emmanuel Vessigny.

Imagine the dedication of parishioners volunteering their time, craft and energy to build this landmark overlooking the beach, where a statue of St Peter benevolently welcomes the fishing boats home after a day at sea.

Built on a hill, the front of the church is over four feet off the ground while the back sits snuggly into the hillside. The steeply sloping gable roof ends with a parapet wall at the front elevation.

To the right of the church stands an impressive heavily decorated adjoining bell tower. This Romanesque bell tower is square, rising without diminishing. It is marked into clearly defined stages by highly decorated horizontal belt courses.

I could not wait to go inside.

Interestingly, the floor plan does not follow the normal cruciform plan of so many of our historic churches. There are no aisles. The Nave has four bays indicated by exterior gothic buttresses supporting interior trusses. There is a loft with a highly ornate balustrade.

The Sanctuary is in the Apse and has a timber ceiling and rafters. The space has been painted and decorated with gold embellishment and a mural, by local artist Eric Lewis. There are beautiful timber windows with amber glass giving the entire space a soft golden glow.

I walked through the church, taking in the simple arched windows and utilitarian heavy timber doors. The intricate detailing of the exterior does not dominate this space.

The small Sacristy is attached to the Apse almost as an afterthought, with its roof tucked under the apse roof. The most beautiful rose and amber glass windows gave this tiny space an air of elegance.

I climbed up the high shaky ladder into the bell tower and was surrounded by incredible murals also by Eric Lewis. How absolutely enchanting! High up in the tower looking out to the sea with the cool sea breeze flowing through.

Sadly the sea is reclaiming the land and eroding the beach. At high tide, the sea washes almost to the parking lot. I left the church feeling sad that there did not seem to be sufficient funds to preserve this commanding edifice, this pride and joy of Moruga.

This article was written based on a visit January 26, 2018