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Saint Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh, County Armagh, Ulster
This Saint Patrick's Cathedral, which belongs to the Catholic Archdiocese of Armagh, stands on a hill about one mile from the St Patrick's Cathedral that belongs to the Anglican Church of Ireland on the adjoining hill.
St Patrick founded his first stone Church in Ireland (Protestant) on the site now occupied by St Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral, known as Sally Hill, in the year 445. But the hill where the twin-spired Catholic Cathedral now stands is not without Patrician associations. The Book of Armagh, relates a beautiful tradition which is also depicted in the lower portion of the Cathedral's great east window (See floor plan of cathedral n. 17). When St Patrick took possession of Sally Hill a deer with her fawn allegedly leaped from the bushes. His companions wanted to catch and kill the fawn but the Saint would not allow them. He himself took the animal on his shoulders and carried it, followed by its mother, to Tealach na Licci (Sandy Hill), the site of the present Catholic Cathedral. The incident has been fondly construed as a prophetic reference by Patrick to the building of another Cathedral in his honour 1400 years later.
The adornment of the interior of the Cathedral was completed under Cardinal Michael Logue (1887-1924). At that time the southern transept was still being used as an impoverished sacristy and assembly room for diocesan purposes. Cardinal Logue corrected this undesirable state of affairs which greatly detracted from the symmetrical beauty of the building's interior by having constructed to the north east of the Cathedral the Synod Hall which houses the present sacristy. At this time the interior of the Cathedral was dull and undecorated. Cardinal Logue issued a pastoral letter, On the National Cathedral, out of which grew the famous 'National Cathedral Bazaar' of 1900 which realised a record sum of £30,000. It can be said that everything in the inside of the Cathedral, except for the Stations of the Cross and some windows in the Lady Chapel, dates from Cardinal Logue's time.
No restructuring of the Cathedral was contemplated until the Second Vatican Council's decree on Sacred Liturgy in the 1960s called for the redesigning of sanctuaries. In the competition for the best design, first prize was awarded to architect, Liam McCormick of Derry. By raising, enlarging and opening the sanctuary area the architect, to a great extent, restored the Cathedral to its original form, as proposed by Duff. The new sanctuary area was finished in Wicklow granite and the same material is used in the altar, ambo and tabernacle stand. All these sanctuary furnishings are the work of sculptor Peter McTigue of Dundalk. The new tabernacle door is a product of Kilkenny Design Workshops and the richly coloured sanctuary carpets were manufactured in Killybegs. Thus, as far as possible, Irish workmanship and materials were used. A new crucifix, the Cross of Christ was affixed to the huge pillar to the right of the sanctuary. This was the work of Imogen Stuart and relies heavily on St John's theology of the life-giving death of Jesus, the structure of the cross reminiscent of the shoots from a sprouting seed, a theme popular in medieval crucifix carvings. The new sanctuary was dedicated on Sunday, 13 June 1982.
SOURCE: Courtesy of Tourism Ireland and St. Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh.
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This page was last modified 25-APR-09
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