Sunday, 14 September 2014

'The Exaltation of Dear Christ's Cross'

September 14 is the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, which the 12th-century calendarist, Marianus O'Gorman, describes as 'the Exaltation of dear Christ's Cross, the great, pure, diademed standard'. Father John Ryan, in his classic work on Irish monasticism, has written of the use of the sign of the cross by the Irish monastic saints:

To invoke the divine aid against these evil powers the sign of the cross was in constant use. St. Columban, during his meditations in the woods near Luxeuil put that holy sign on his forehead frequently as a form of armour. His monks did the same whenever they left the monastery. Columban's successor at Luxeuil, the abbot Athala, had a cross erected outside his cell, so that when going out or returning he could lay his hand upon it before putting the sign of salvation upon his brow. A torch when lighted by a junior monk had to be handed to a senior to be thus blessed, and spoons when used at table had to be treated similarly by the brethern. In Iona the same custom prevailed; for it is recorded that St Columcille was displeased when the holy sign was not placed on a milk vessel (Adamnan ii, 16). The 'signum salutare' might be placed on tools and used for various pious purposes. When his uncle Ernan died suddenly on the way from the harbour to the monastery, a cross was raised on the spot where life failed him and another on the spot where Columcille stood awaiting his approach. Another cross, fixed securely in a large millstone, was erected in the place where the old white horse wept for the saint's approaching end just before his death. Caesarius of Arles shows that the practice of signing oneself with the sign of the cross was very common in Gaul. St. Patrick made the sign of the cross upon himself a hundred times during the day and night, and never passed a cross upon the wayside without alighting from his chariot and spending a while beside it in prayer. St. Jerome said it could not be made too frequently. The hermits in the Egyptian desert were wont to make the holy sign over their food and drink, before they took their repast, and one of them is credited with the statement that "where the cross passes the evil in anything is powerless."

Rev. John Ryan, S.J., Irish Monasticism - Origins and Early Development (2nd edn. 1972, reprinted Irish Academic Press, 1986), 234-235.

Note: This post has also been published at my own blog Omnium Sanctorum Hiberniae which is dedicated to the saints of Ireland. 

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Back on the Rails Part V - Back Again

Gentle reader, I have undertaken several journeys of moment in the past few years: to the Bar, to the Altar, down the pleasant waters of the River Lee and along the Railways of Cork.  The last proved just too ambitious for me in the midst of the hurly-burly of the first two.  However, by some popular demand, I'm back on the rails again at last and looking forward (dare I even mention it?) to exploring the passage of the River Blackwater at some not too distant date.

Let me remind you, gentle reader, of my fundamental theory.  As I have said before, it is my own but, as with so many of the best ideas, not mine alone or even first.  It is found throughout the writings of Hilaire Belloc.  There is something about a river that delineates a landscape and forms the people and their history.  Follow the river and you will find the people and their history and what formed them both.

In his The Historic Thames Belloc says "Upon all these accounts a river, during the natural centuries which precede and follow the epochs of high civilisation, is as much more important than the road or the path as, let us say, a railway to-day is more important than a turnpike." He also addresses the significance of rivers to human civilization in The Path to Rome and Warfare in England, particularly the first chapter on strategic topography.

Let us return to the Railways.  At the outset of this series, I suggested that Railways, by respecting the topography and maintaining, albeit with increasing alacrity and greater mobility, traditional societies,  reflected and supported the traditional life of old Cork in a way that Motorways and National Road Networks just don't.

In the second part of this series, I looked at the nexus of the network - a greater network that you find today even in Dublin - the beautiful City of Cork.  In the third part, I moved out of the City to the South West and in the fourth part I passed Innishannon along the Bandon line.  You can see the stately pace of history in this Railway journey.  The doors close, the whistle sounds, the green flag waves and we're off again...

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Mass in St. Agnes' Crumlin

St. Agnes' Church, Crumlin, was one of the first great era of suburban Churches in Dublin built under Archbishop Byrne (1921-1940).  The firm of Ashlin and Coleman designed the Church, along with St. Teresa's, Donore Avenue (1922), St. Anne's, Shankill (1931), St. Columba's, Iona Road (1933), and Our Lady of Good Counsel (begun in 1933, blessed in 1942).

Archbishop Byrne also oversaw the building of the Church of St. MacCullin, Lusk (1922), St. Brigid, Killester (1925), St. Vincent de Paul, Marino (1926), Garrison Church, Arbour Hill, 1927, Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, Foxrock (1935), and Our Lady of the Rosary, Harold's Cross (begun in 1938, blessed 1940).  In contrast to the Churches that were built under his successors, these were generally stone-built Churches in a very traditional style but temporary Churches were also needed until a new Church could be built.  As part of this great extension, Archbishop Byrne also blessed a tin Church at Portmarnock and a wooden Church at Kiltiernan.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Latin Mass in Emo 2014

Reports of previous Masses in Borris, Co. Carlow, are here (2013), here (2012), here (2011), here (2010), an account of the Church itself here, and an account of the nearby Emo Court here.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

St. Pius X - Part XIV

On this day in 1914, Our Most Holy Father, Pope (later Saint) Pius X died in the odour of sanctity.

Sancte Pie Decime, Gloriose Patrone, ora pro nobis!

Saturday, 2 August 2014

St. Pius X - Part XIII

On this day in 1914, Our Most Holy Father, Pope (later Saint) Pius X issued his exhortation Dum Europa to the Christian peoples of Europe appealing to them to hold back from the war that was about to engulf them.

Sancte Pie Decime, Gloriose Patrone, ora pro nobis!

Monday, 28 July 2014

Mass for Grandparents in Borris

Reports of previous Masses in Borris, Co. Carlow, are here (2013) and here (2012) and a feature on the Church of the Sacred Heart here.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Latin Mass in Monasterevin

Reports of previous Masses in Monasterevin are available here (2013), here (2012), and here (2011).

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Centenary of the deaths of HRIH the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and HH the Duchess of Hohenberg

Pray for the repose of the souls of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife the Duchess of Hohenberg who were killed at the hand of an atheist anarchist terrorist at about this hour 100 years ago.

Requiem aeternam dona eis domine et lux perpetua luceat eis

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Forthcoming Mass in Monasterevin

Traditional Banner Making

Last year I was asked if I would make a banner for The Sodality of Our Lady in Dublin. A few brief sketches on the back of some scraps of paper accompanied the request and I found myself agreeing to take on the task. Exciting yes, but something that perhaps given my lack of knowledge of banners and experience of this type of sewing, somewhat rash to agree to! Work started in earnest in early 2011 and it took around six months to complete, working as and when I had the time. In terms of hours it took approximately 80 working hours.

Deciding on the design proved to be surprisingly problematic. A quick search on google provided much research material with banners ranging from large ornate, hand stitched, heavily embroidered designs costing many hundreds or sometimes even thousands of Euros to more simple designs though all coming in at a significant cost. Throughout the project, the banner design changed quite often as new ideas emerged, with pelmets being added and removed, the shape of the bottom edge changing and even the whole thing increasing in size!

The fabric chosen for the banner was a white ‘moiré’, a form of synthetic ‘water marked’ taffeta-style fabric purchased after a lot of searching by special order from a store in England. This type of fabric is often used for Roman vestments.

The basic layout of the front of the banner was one thing that remained the same from the begining, with a central panel to feature an image of Our Lady and wording to be set round it. These, it was decided, would be stitched out using machine embroidery and hand embellishment - a decision on the letters I was later to much regret! There are many on-line stores selling machine embroidery designs and many hours went into searching through them. In the end, three different designs for the central image were purchased and stitched out before the current one was selected and I think it is by far the best.

Once the image of Our Lady had been chosen and the thread colour decided on, it was stitched out by the machine onto the final fabric. The basic design was completed, the fabric was then hooped, interfacing placed behind it to support the weight and some areas were filled in with hand stitching (shown in the final pictures). I felt that beads would add some depth to the design. I used longer beads sewn into Our Lord’s halo. For Our Lady’s hundreds of tiny beads were strung and two rows were sewn along the top edge of her halo, each one being caught individually into place in order to get the shape. This beading alone was the work of several evenings, and was probably the most fiddly element.

In January we visited Rome to purchase items for the banner and acquired from Serpone the banner pole, finial and the gold trim, beautiful but not cheap! The fringing was purchased more inexpensively from a market stall providing fringing and trim largely for upholstery work.

The designs for the back of the banner were chosen and stitched out on the embroidery machine. The emblem of the sodality, a fleur de lys in a crown of thorns was combined on the computer specially for the project. In order to keep the banner against the pole a strip of fabric was stitched between the emblems with a velco fastening to hold it around the pole.

The lettering on the front of the banner proved much more time consuming. It had to be stitched in four parts and took quite a number of goes and a lot of planning to line it up. This was probably the most frustrating part of the whole thing and I think despite the time that would have been involved in hand stitching this it would probably have been a quicker option! The central panel was surrounded with trim and then hand stitched in place with several layers of wadding behind it to make it stand out from the fabric.

The trim was hand stitched in place round the outsides of the front and back panels of the banner and on the pelmet. It was quite thick trim and not easy to work with in forming the various shapes to go round the bottom of the banner and gathering it to go round the curves proved tricky. Much of the putting together the banner was done through hand stitching rather than machine because, in my experience, this makes finished pieces hang better and the recent retreat in Mount Melleray provided lots of opportunity for sewing on the trim whilst listening to the various talks.

Once the trim was in place the various layers were machine stitched together, the back panel, a layer of interfacing designed for shirt collars and cuffs, the front panel, the tabs to hold to banner over the horizontal pole and the pelmet the later two also with layers of interfacing. The interfacing was needed to help the banner to hang correctly, strengthen the fabric and so the decoration on the front did not show through from the back and vice versa. Once secured at the top the banner was hand stitched together along all the other edges..

The banner was blessed by Father Larkin during a Latin Mass held at a recent Sodality meeting in Blessed Cardinal Newman's University Church in Dublin. It has also been carried on two processions already, Corpus Christi in Cork and St Oliver Punkett at Drogheda. Amongst the other banners of the different groups attending these events I was pleased to say that it looked the part.

When asked to make the banner I did not realise what a big task it was going to be. Whilst I can sew I wouldn’t claim any particular skill, just a determination to complete things once I have decided on them! This later trait played a big role in its completion and there was certainly much to 'offer up' throughout! Into the banner has gone many evenings, much frustration and many pricked fingers, so yes, blood, sweat, toil and tears! Whilst I am largely pleased with the results, having now learnt much that I didn’t know about making a banner, there is a part of me that would like to do it again. This time I could do a really good job! It is nice to think that one has made something that will be used for years to come and that people are proud to walk behind.