The south transept is much less complex than the north in content, since it has only a round window matching the north round window. This one, dedicated to our Blessed Mother, the Blessed Virgin presenting the rosary to St. Dominic, and is inscribed “Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for us”. The Latin words AVE GRATIA PLENA DOMINUS TECUM in the arch means “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee”. At the top of the transept, the device MA stands for Maria.
Up in the top of the arch, located in the centre aisle, is a painting of the cross after the Resurrection. It is draped with the empty shroud and in front of it smokes a winged incensor symbolic of divinity. Behind the cross are, on the right, the hyssop wand with sponge and the spear. These last two related to Christ’s suffering and death. On the left of the cross, are seen a bishop’s crosier and a papal staff whose triple cross represents dominion over the city (Rome), the church and the world. In the border around the emblem is written the word CREDO.
With binoculars it is possible to see written in the margins of this figure the names of the young men who cleaned the church in 1952: Vincent and Dominic Coady, Jim and Frank Colton, Billy Doyle, Arkie Nugent, Emmet and John Ryan.
Below the round window, the two blind niches show where the statues of St. Patrick and St. Peter Celestine stood until the former fell down forty years ago. St. Peter was removed and the pedestals and all trace of their attachment have vanished, leaving the blank arches. At floor level, the area is kept clear to allow access to the vestry through the doors at the end of the transept. The pulpit is the only furnishing here, except for the little olivewood cross between the doors above the altar rail. It was brought back from Jerusalem by Father O’Toole in 1930.
When the grandson of Toussaint-Xenephone Renaud visited the church in 1991, he remarked that the pulpit was the artistic high point of the church. He also pointed out that Pakenham was remarkably fortunate that the pulpit had not been demolished long since.
The pulpit is indeed a remarkable structure. In form, it is a giant chalice ten feet high and four feet across the top. The whole edifice stands on a post one foot in diameter, which is supported by four massive brackets. The decoration echoes that of the church and especially the altars – all were done by Ed Meloche and bear his trademark, intense colours and elaborate forms. But in the pulpit, all the colours and shapes of the sanctuary are brighter and sharper, focusing the attention of the congregation on this great cup from which the word of God poured out Sunday after Sunday. Natural forms are reduced to a fringe of stylized flowers under the rim of the pulpit; all the remaining decoration is abstract forms and gaudy colours. The whole pulpit is a structure of most unusual design which accentuates the design of the building as a whole.
The most unique architectural aspect of the pulpit is the staircase. It is attached to the church floor at the base and at the pulpit floor at the upper end, with no intervening supports. This design will cause flexure in the steps and railing as the priest ascends, but is perfectly normal.
© 1992 (text) Terence Currie – Used with permission