The magnificent Church of the Most Holy Rosary, Abbeyleix, Co. Laois, was the scene of Mass in the Gregorian Rite this morning, the first day of the Month of the Holy Rosary. Last year, the Gregorian Rite was celebrated for the first time in the Church since the promulgation of the Missal of Pope Paul VI. A report of that Mass is available here.
The Parish Church of Abbeyleix is set on a hill above the village over-looking the old main Cork-Dublin road. Its architectural merit is remarkable, especially in the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin, although that part of Laois is particularly blessed with fine Churches. The most striking features of the Church are the Altars and rails; a series of stained glass windows representing the Joyful Mysteries (south transept), Sorrowful Mysteries (apse), and the Second Glorious Mystery (geographical eastern gable); and a cycle of frescos including decorative elements and lettering 'Hoc Est Corpus Meum' in the apse and most notably the figure of Christ in Glory surrounded by His Evangelists recumbent upon the Sanctuary arch and the apparition of the Sacred Heart over the Sacred Heart Altar and the apparition of Our Lady to St. Dominic to give him the Holy Rosary over Our Lady's Altar. Notably, over each of the Altars cherubs are painted by the artist, Peter Rogers, supposedly using his children as models.
The Church also contains one of the most remarkable items of ecclesiastical furnishing in the Diocese, a set of curved Sanctuary rails in carrara marble installed in the 1990s to facilitate passage around the new Altar. They are certainly the only set of Sanctuary rails in the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin, probably the only set in Ireland that have been installed since the publication of the Missal of Pope Paul VI.
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