St Mary and St George
The Parish was founded when Fr. Wilfrid Schneider of Buckfast Abbey opened a Catholic Church on a site in South Street in 1902. It was the first Catholic Church in Totnes since the Reformation. In later years the Parish was handed over to the Diocesan priests, one of whom, Fr. Russell, purchased “Crichel House” and land in Station Road in the centre of Totnes in 1940. The present Church is built on the former site of Crichel House. The site was first blessed after Mass on the feast of St. George 1985. On 9th March 1986 the new Church was dedicated by Bishop Budd.
The coat of arms on the outside wall is of the banner of St. George. It bears a large letter M for Mary as in the coat of arms of Pope John Paul 11(1978- 2005). Inside the Church, set in one rear corner, is the Shrine of the Madonna, a statue carved from the trunk of a cedar tree. Mary and the Infant clasp “the serpent” turned rosary around her neck. At the foot of the Madonna is St. George slaying “the dragon”, emphasizing the dedication of the Church to St. Mary & St. George, and the power of good over evil.
A remarkable carved crucifix is placed on the Sanctuary wall. It depicts Christ giving us His blessing from the Cross: the pascal mystery of the Passion, Death and Resurrection portrayed. Most of the stained glass came from the old church except the window behind the tabernacle which came from Buckfast Abbey.
The Stations of the Cross are worth seeing. The sculpted figures emerge starkly, vividly, from a background of flat, red brick. Some of the faces, “ghouls”, waiting to disfigure and destroy the loving Christ. The crowd stare in masked mockery – “Behold the Man!” The tired, worn out, weakness of Pilate is so clearly demonstrated in his face. The Stations have no numbers, no titles. The journey nears its end with the twisted, torn, haggard Christ on the Cross. Could wood have so much fleshy feeling, emit so much emotion, provoke so much thought? The last scene for meditation leads to the joy of the Risen Christ, to the Tabernacle, in close proximity, at the end of the Via Crucis.