Saturday, November 14, 2009


In 1943 a Chinese priest came to Ireland, to St. Columban's in Dalgan Co. Meath to learn English. He struck up a friendship with the Mercy Sisters in nearby Navan and when he returned to China he had a set of vestments made and sent to them. On September 7th 1951 he was arrested and imprisoned by the Communists. On January 30th 1953 he died from pleurisy in a Shanghai jail another martyr for the Faith.
I think both the life, the sacrifice and the chasuble from the set (on display in Dalgan) are beautiful.

Below is the Chasuble:

A closer look:

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I was back with Fifth year students in the Columban mother house in Dalgan Co. Meath and took these photos of their stained glass outside the chapel. They look like they may be by Harry Clarke or his studio.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


I officiated at the marriage of a lovely young couple on Saturday in St. Lawrence O'Toole's, Roundwood, Co. Wicklow. The day was cold but all went well. Roundwood is reputedly the highest village in Ireland and they have a lovely church. The statues and stations have recently been restored by two painters, one an Irish art student and the other an Argentinian parishionner. They've done a good job. A parishioner told me the original reredos was removed many years ago and it was a loss to the sanctuary which now lacks something. Otherwise its a beautiful, simple church.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


I have been into Christchurch Cathedral twice in the last two weeks to see the exhibition of icons by Ludmila Pawlowska. The icons are beautiful but her modern art did nothing for me. Christchurch is surprisingly small inside. Originally, of course, it was Catholic and then the Reformation (or 'revolution') occurred and it became Anglican. Interestingly they retain the altar rails and a rood screen separating the nave from the choir. It's a beautiful church and well kept (entry is €6 for an adult). While there I heard a concert given by the Riverside City College Chamber Choir of California (director John Byun). They were very good though I was disappointed that there were no pieces by Irish composers.

The beautiful font reminds us of our unity in this sacrament. Thanks to the decision of Pope Sylvester that the Roman tradition of accepting the baptism of heretics and schismatics once they used the correct formula kept the door open for modern efforts to restore the unity of the Church. I feel whenever I am in such a church that I am walking on ground that has been usurped and feel I should quietly ask 'when are you going to give it back?'

My photo of the pulpit without flash was too blurred but the flash, while giving clarity, flattens the picture. This is a fine piece of work but I don't know how hold it is.

So if you happen to be in Dublin take some time and pay a visit.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


This is the altar of St. Mary of the Angels, Church St., and it shows the Blessed Virgin presenting St. Francis to Christ.


Last night the Catholic Underground group came to Chruch St., Dublin and I took it as a good opportunity to show you our church there. Well worth a visit if you're in the area.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Above is the mosaic floor of the entrance hall of the Columban Motherhouse. "Euntes docetes omnes gentes" are the words of our Lord and mean 'Go teach all nations' an injunction that the Columbans have taken to heart. The 'P' and 'X' in the middle is the Chi-Rho symbol taken from the first two letters of 'Christ' in Greek and it symbolises not only His name but His kingdom too. In the corners one can see the shields of two of Ireland's four provinces, Ulster on the left and Leinster on the right. The shield of Ulster has the Red Hand of the O'Neills, hereditary Kings of Ulster on the Red Cross on a gold banner of the de Burgos. The Leinster shield has the Irish harp on a Green field. The Irish President's banner is a golden harp with silver strings on an azure field. Of the other two provinces Connacht has a blue and white field with an arm holding a sword united to half an eagle (said to symbolize the unity of Old English and Gael) while Munster has three gold crowns on an azure field (symbolizing its three greatest lordships). I point this floor our to our students when we bring them to Dalgan. A little beauty ennobles the soul.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009



The above chapel or church is part of the Columban mother house in Dalgan, Co. Meath, Ireland. The Columban's are an Irish order founded by two diocesan priests to provide missionaries for Asia. It was the intact ciborium that caught my eye.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Three Capuchin Wooden Tabernacles: Taberncle One

The image above is the other side to the one below complete with statuettes of unidentified Capuchin Saints.

Tabernacle One: the Other Side

The above Tabernacle features three statues that are visible (more on the other side). Apart from the Mother of God there is St. Francis (?) on top and probably St. Felix of Cantalice (1515-1587) on the bottom completely with sack for begging and his Y-topped walking stick. Unusually there are two doors - I don't know why.

Tabernale Two

I love the steps leading up to the tabernacle doors. The inscription below is in Latin and is taken from the words of consecration at Mass.

Tabernacle Three

They were all made by Capuchin friars and display a high level of skill and devotion. While I am not a fan of the baroque these tabernacles are so much more a statement of faith in the Real Presence than much of what we use today.
All of the above tabernacles are in the little museum attached to the Capuchin Friary at Renacavata, Camerino, La Marche, Italy.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Enameled Chalice

This is the base from two sides.

Plated Chalice with enamel work

While clearing our our safe for Holy Thursday the vicar discovered some chalices we have not used for awhile - eight all told and two ciboria. This is one of the chalices; there's no date on it but I'd guess it's 19th or 20th Century. We have one from 1770 which is quite beautiful in its simplicity and inscribed with the name of friar Marianis Thoma Corcoran. The stamps are quite worn from usage and cleaning. The one above is not as valuable but it is beautiful. It needs a bit of a clean and perhaps some regilding.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Baptismal Font, Gregoriou Monastery, Mt. Athos

The pictures above were taken in 2005 in the monastery of Gregoriou on Mount Athos. They were taken with an old 35mm Canon. They are of the central part of the little dome over the font(?). We attended a beautiful service there before we left for Dionysiou. The faith illustrated and made visible - if only our Catholic churches could be so beautiful.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Holy Family, Aughrim St., Dublin

One of the old Dublin Churches built after the lifting of the Penal Laws, Holy Family, or simply Aughrim (pronounced ock-rimStreet, is a beautiful church. It's a large but not wealthy parish, with a lot of elderly parishioners. It has two priests. The more I hear and read of what has been lost around the Catholic world the more I realise how our native Irish conservatism has preserved quite a lot of our heritage - at least more than other countries.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

St. John Lateran, Rome

Actually this church, the cathedral-basilica of the Pope as Bishop of Rome, is dedicated to Christ and St.s John the Baptist and John the Evangelist. It was built o n land belonging to the Laterani family or so I'm told. Along with St. Paul's Outside the Walls St. John Lateran is a favourite of mine. St. Peter's is too big but this church, though large is not so big that I feel overwhelmed. St Francis visited this church many times on his way to meet the Pope and a large statue of himself and his followers stands facing it. Nearby is the Cistercian abbey and church of Santa Croce (stand with your back to John Lateran and walk straight ahead) where one can see the relics of the crucifixion. We celebrated Mass here last year in the choir of the canons. The video shows the mosaics in the apse which were added to by two friars one of whom Jacopo Torriti painted the frescoes in the vault of the basilica of St. Francis in Assisi.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Beautiful Cope with an image of the Sacred Heart;

I also put this on my other blog but it belongs here too. Found in a drawer in our sacristy: one cope with an embroidered image of the Sacred Heart - beautiful! We already have a cope so I volunteered to find a suitable home for this one.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Theessaloniki Church 2005

This video is from 2005. We were on our way to Mount Athos, sorry no video of the churches there - not allowed, and had to stay in Thessaloniki to get our papers checked out by the local government. So we did some sight-seeing and found this beautiful church (among many) Br. Richard Hendrick took the video. Definitely among the beautiful.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

St. Paul's Outside the Walls

I took this video last summer in St. Paul's Outside the Walls. It was my second time in Rome and that beautiful church. Of the Roman basilicas I saw it has to rank in my heart at least on a par with John Lateran. It's truly one of the good and the beautiful and the video doesn't do it justice.

Sgraffitto Chapel, Leonessa,

Joseph of Leonessa's feast day was during the week. He was known as the 'companion killer' because he was so zealous that he would hardly rest as he walked from town to town preaching and ministering - resulting in the collapse from exhaustion of a number of friars. His body is kept in a church in the town. The Capuchin friary remains outside and the video is of its chapel. The chapel is certainly extraordinary but it couldn't be everybody's cup of tea. I think the artwork would look better on the outside of the church. Not ugly, not bad but not exactly good either. What do people think?

Upstairs Chapel Frescos, San Damiano, Assisi, Italy

This has to be one of the good, the beautiful. I've had the privilege of joining the friars for sung evening prayer in the main chapel, sitting in the choir that goes back to St. Bernadine of Siena. The two friars who appear in the video are Adrian, (the guy telling me to shush) my guardian but soon to be novice master in Oxford, and Paul, a deacon, from Papua New Guinea. All my videos are taken on a Kodak Z1258.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Good, the Bad and the Just Plain Ugly

It occurred to me recently, that I could put pictures of Irish churches on my blog but I then wondered 'Why not put them on a separate blog?' Ireland has many beautiful churches from the last century (nearly everything older was 'taken away' from us). In part I am inspired by a comment by the late Sr. Aloysius McVeigh R.S.M., an iconographer, teacher, principal, ecumenist, founder-member of the Association of Iconographers of Ireland and deeply holy woman(RIP 25th December 2008) who noted that her local parish Church had been a place of continuous worship since the time of St. Columbcille (521-597). Even when the Church was burnt down the Mass was offered under a Hawthorn tree behind the apse. So in my travels and hopefully those of my brethren (and anyone else who wishes to contribute) we will collect pics of the beautiful and not so beautiful churches we have. We can then, I suppose, come to a deeper appreciation of our heritage and what fits in with it and what doesn't. The picture that dominates this page is of course from the apse of St. Paul's Outside the Walls, Rome which I think is one of Rome's most beautiful Churches after John Lateran.


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