THE history of Wirral's most famous religious landmark will be celebrated in a special heritage tour taking place later this year.
Fondly known as 'The Dome of Home' Ss Peter, Paul & Philomena's church in New Brighton opened its doors in 1935.
Designed by E Bower Norris of Sandy and Norris Architects of Stafford and London and described as of the Classical Renaissance style, it closed in August 2008, amid rising repair and maintenance costs.
It reopened as a shrine church in March last year, with a papal blessing from then Pope Benedict XVI and features in Wirral Heritage Open Days, running from September 7-15.
Eileen Wilshaw, heritage officer said: "This is a fantastic opportunity to explore historic buildings and places of worship throughout the peninsula and I am delighted that the Church of Ss Peter & Paul & Philomena will be taking part.
"It's a superb building with a fascinating history and I am sure visitors will find it a welcome addition to the Heritage Open Days programme".
A prominent, familiar landmark on the Wirral skyline, it was named 'The Dome of Home' by merchant sailors returning to Liverpool from North America during World War II. When the sailors spotted the Dome on the horizon, they knew they were safe.
Wirral's mayor and mayoress, councillor Gerry and Mrs Margaret Ellis pledged their support for the event during a visit to the church on Wednesday.
He was welcomed by Canon Amaury Montjean, a French priest of The Institute of Christ the King and Rector of The Shrine and accompanied by Canon Philip Moor, parish priest of Holy Apostles and Martyrs parish in which the shrine lies.
The renovation of The Dome of Home will be a valued contribution towards the regeneration of New Brighton. During the visit Cllr Ellis said: "I will do all I can to encourage the council to support its restoration.”
Canon Montjean said: "We are developing a heritage tour for the public, to be launched for the heritage open days.
"It is fitting that the Mayor of Wirral be our first official visitor. This tour will be available in September for anyone interested in heritage. There is a lot to appreciate here, not least the vast but peaceful retreat."
They joined Canons Montjean and Moor for afternoon Tea in the presbytery and were presented with a beautiful cake, made by a parishioner.
The Dome is open daily from 8am until 8pm but during the open days guided tours will be available.
For more information about the shrine visit www.domeofhome.org or the heritage open days visit http://www.visitwirral.com/whats-on/heritage-open-days-p244971