The Oratory Church of St Aloysius Gonzaga
‘St Aloysius of the Church of Rome:
Its incense, reliquaries, brass and lights
Made all seem plain and trivial back at school.›
—John Betjeman, Summoned by Bells
St Aloysius' Catholic Church was built in 1875 to serve the population of Oxford and the surrounding district. As the Catholic population of the area increased, eight further parishes were formed in outlying areas, reducing the parish of St Aloysius to its present area, encompassing the historic centre of Oxford.
For the first 100 or so years of its existence, St Aloysius was served by the Jesuit Fathers, successors of those who had kept the Catholic faith alive in Oxford during the long years of persecution. After the Jesuits left in 1981, priests of the Archdiocese of Birmingham looked after the parish until 1990, when Cardinal Newman's dream was at last fulfilled and the parish was entrusted to the Fathers of the Oratory, two of whom moved from Birmingham to take over the church. Numbers in the community soon increased, and in 1993, the Oxford Oratory was formally established as an independent house.
The church was designed, by J. Hansom, the architect of Arundel Cathedral, and the Holy Name church in Manchester. It is of French Gothic inspiration, and was originally colourfully decorated in an Italianate style. In 1954 the decoration was all painted over with two-tone grey. The last repainting in the 1970s gave the church the colours which can be seen today.