Sunday 30 October 2011

Saint Brigid and Saint Erc

2 November is the feast of Saint Erc of Slane, a saint who features in the hagiography of Saint Patrick. He also features in the hagiography of Ireland's patroness and below is an account of some of the miracles worked by Saint Brigid which include Bishop Erc, taken from Volume II of The Lives of the Irish Saints by John, Canon O'Hanlon. The stories testify to the friendship of the two saints as well as to the mutual respect which existed between them:

One of the holy men, who had been distinguished owing to his virtues in St. Brigid's time, was Bishop Erc or Ercus of Slane. He was an early convert and a disciple of St. Patrick. This Bishop Erc's immediate progenitors and family lived in Munster; although, he descended from Fergus Rogius, and the royal line of Ulster kings. His hermitage was at Slane, on the banks of the Boyne, and it stood in a most charming locality. Here too, at the present time, may be seen some most interesting relics of our ancestors' piety. Beside that romantically situated cell of the holy man, yet visited by so many pilgrims of taste, who delight to wander along the winding waters of the Boyne, some towering and extensive abbey ruins crown a magnificent height, which presents a vast view over one of the most lovely landscapes in Ireland.

With blessed Erc, the great St. Brigid was specially intimate and bound by ties of holy friendship. This appears from her Acts, and it is supposed, that about the year 484, she was his travelling companion to his native province. Such tour of the holy abbess possibly preceded one she made to Connaught although, indeed, this matter has not been very clearly established. St. Brigid entertained a great inclination to see certain consecrated places and holy persons in Munster; but, according to another account, her visit there was induced, through a desire to accompany St. Erc on a visit towards that country, where his relatives lived. One day, while prosecuting their journey, St. Brigid said to the bishop, "O venerable father, point out to me the quarter of Munster, in which your family resides." When the bishop had complied with her request, the holy virgin exclaimed in continuation, "At present, a war is there waging, between your tribe and another clan." The bishop replied to her: "O holy mother, I believe what thou hast told me is true, for when I last left them to see you, they were in a state of discord." Then Brigid cried out, "O Father, your people are now routed." One of St. Erc's disciples, hereupon, thoughtlessly remarked to the holy abbess, "How are you able to see the fight at such a distance?" The bishop reproved this incredulity for his not recognising the Holy Spirit's illuminating gifts conferred on a virgin, who was blessed both in soul and body. Then said Erc to our saint: "O servant of God, sign our eyes that we may witness those things thou seest." The spouse of Christ immediately complied with this request, so that they clearly observed the battle's progress. Looking on, in great grief, his disciple cried out to Bishop Erc: "Alas! also, my Lord, at this moment, my eyes behold the decapitation of two brothers." The result of enquiry established the reality this vision detailed.

Afterwards, in a certain place, and near a mountain, the holy Bishop Erc and the sanctified virgin Brigid sat down, with their attendants. These were greatly fatigued after their journey, and they experienced great hunger. A youth in their company thereupon remarked, that whoever gave them food should confer a great charity on them. St. Brigid then said, "I predict, that if food and drink be required, you must wait awhile in expectation of assistance from on high; because, I behold a house, in which they are to-day preparing alms for a certain church. Within an hour it shall come here, and even now it is put up for us in packages." While our saint was speaking, refreshment carriers arrived, and when they had learned the illustrious Brigid and holy Bishop Erc, with their disciples, were there, those bearers greatly rejoiced to relieve their wants. Alms were presented to the famished travellers, with such words: "Receive those refreshments, which God Himself hath intended for you, as your wants and merits should be taken into consideration, before those of any other congregation." Giving God thanks, our travellers partook of this food presented; yet, as they only received edibles, some drink was required, likewise, to allay their thirst. Then Brigid told them to dig the earth near this spot. On obeying her order, a spring of clear water issued from the ground. Afterwards, it bore the name of St. Brigid's well, and it might be seen at the time our virgin's Third and Fourth Lives had been written.

The holy travellers subsequently visited Magh-Femyn, at a time when a great Synod of Saints was there assembled. They were obliged to remain at that synod. The holy Bishop Erc gave an account of those miracles wrought by our saint, while he was assisting at this council. The neighbouring inhabitants, hearing that Brigid was there, brought many infirm persons to her, that she might heal them. Among these were included some lame, leprous, and demented persons. Such fortunate patients were released from their several afflictions, through Divine assistance, and the prayers of our merciful saint.

Saturday 29 October 2011

Back on the Rails III - The Cork, Bandon and South Coast Railway

Having looked at the Albert Quay Terminus in the last post, I want to look at the sites and sights of the Cork, Bandon and South Coast Railway in this. In fact, part of this line was one of Ireland's first railways, befitting the 'real' capital and, at the time, Ireland's most populous County. It is also the longest of the lines that I'm exploring, so I'm going to cover it in stages. Firstly, the line runs through the suburbs of the city.

From the Albert Quay Terminus the railway travelled along the line of what has now become the South City Link Road. Termus and line begin in the South Parish, one of the two Catholic Parishes of Cork in the early modern period. In fact, the South Chapel is the oldest Church in the City and a rare survival from the period of the Penal Laws when Catholic Church building was technically illegal. The poverty of the construction can be seen from the way that limestone and sandstone are used almost indifferently as they came to hand.

In 1808, the Bishop of Cork, Dr. Moylan was able to open a second Church to the North of the River Lee (already featured on this blog for the Corpus Christi Procession), only the second in the city, giving to the two chapels, as Catholic houses were diminutively and dismissively known by the Anglican ruling class, the titles of 'South Chapel' and 'North Chapel' respectively. Later ages would christen them the 'South Parish Church' and the 'North Cathedral' but they were always known to me by their earlier titles.

Standing on Dunbar Street outside the South Chapel you can see three monuments to our Catholic heritage. Looking North you see the Capuchin Friary, home of the great Father Mathew. To the West is the tower of the Red Abbey of the Augustinian Canons, the last medieval building in Cork.

To the South are the buildings of the South Presentation Convent (there is also a North Presentation Convent across the road from the North Chapel), the first foundation of Nano Nagle and the Presentation Sisters, one of the largest of the Irish Orders of Nuns, another gift of Bishop Moylan to the City. Nano Nagle is buried in the grounds of the Convent that is still, thank God, occupied by the Nuns.

As the City expanded the South Parish became so large that it was necessary to divide it in two by creating the new Parish of Turner's Cross. Continuing south along the line of the old Cork, Bandon and South Coast railway, now the line of the South City Link Road, we pass the famous modernist Church of Christ the King at Turner's Cross, dedicated just a few years after Pope Pius XI created the feast of Christ the King. The Church is stunningly modern and abstract in style and construction but it should also be said that in its modernity it retains the traditional liturgical forms - Sanctuary/Nave - High Altar/Side Altars - Sanctuary Rails/Devotional Shrines - more perfectly than many traditional churches wreckovated since Vatican II. It's an interesting idea to imagine the steam locomotives puffing past Turner's Cross for more than 30 years.

The line next passes through the Parish of Ballyphehane. The Parish Church of the Assumption was one of the 'Rosary' Churches of the City that I looked at this time last year. Ballyphehane Parish includes Cork Airport, which is another reason why the destruction of the railway line wasn't just useless but also a waste of a great potential resource.

Between the City and the Airport the line turns West towards Chetwynd, where is climbs majestically towards Spur Hill. The last two images in this post are the small road bridge crossing the line at Chetwynd, just before the famous Chetwynd Viaduct that carries the line over the Bandon Road, and the viaduct itself, which is occasionally used for a variant of road bowl playing, the unique Cork sport. Mick Barry, still remembered in UCC in my time, was the first to pitch the iron bowl over the viaduct.

White Scapular of Our Lady of Ransom of Prisoners

A little-known scapular is that of the Order of Our Lady of Ransom of Prisoners, founded by Saint Peter Nolasco, carrying with it indulgences approved on 30th July, 1868 by the Congregation of Indulgences. The scapular is a simple one of white cloth, and the faculty of blessing and investing with it is communicated by the General of the Mercedarians.

Our Lady of Ransom, pray for us!

Two Masses in November

Mass in Newbridge, Co. Kildare

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the Gregorian Rite will be celebrated according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII (1962) in Cill Mhuire (not shown above), Newbridge, Co. Kildare, at 6 p.m., on Friday, 11th November, 2010, with the kind permission of the Very Reverend Parish Priest of Newbridge. The Mass will be followed at 8 p.m. by the Annual General Meeting of St. Conleth's Catholic Heritage Association in St. Anne's Parish Centre, Station Road, Newbridge, Co. Kildare.

St. Conleth of Kildare, pray for us!

Mass in Kilcock, Co. Kildare

A Requiem Mass in the Gregorian Rite will be celebrated according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII (1962) in the Church of St. Coca, Kilcock, Co. Kildare, at 11 a.m. on Saturday, 26th November, 2011, with the kind permission of the Very Reverend Parish Priest of Kilcock. The Mass will be offered for the deceased members of St. Conleth's Catholic Heritage Association.

St. Coca of Kilcock, pray for us!

Saturday 22 October 2011

White Scapular of the Passion

In 1900 also, acceding to the representations of the Archbishop of Marseilles, the Scapular of the Passion was approved. Again this scapular is in two segments of white material. On one segment appears an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus with the emblems of the Passion; on the other a small cross of red material. Pope Pius X granted indulgences to wearers of the Scapular in 1901, and again in 1906.

May the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the merits of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of all the saints and also whatever good we do or evil we endure merit for us the remission of our sins, the increase of grace and the reward of everlasting life. Amen!

Friday 21 October 2011

Memorial of Blessed Karl of Austria

Blessed Karl,
Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary,
Head of the House of Habsburg-Lothringen,
1887 -- 1922
Knight of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem

Born the grand nephew of Emperor Franz-Josef, he was far down the line of succession to the throne. Due to a series of tragedies, in 1916 in the middle of the The Great War (World War I), he succeeded to the imperial and royal crowns. He very strongly opposed the war and attempted through secret negotiations to bring about a fair and lasting peace. As a result he was known as "The Peace Emperor".

In 1919 the socialist government forced him into exile where he and his family lived a quite, humble, deeply religious Catholic life. His attempt in 1921 to return to Hungary failed. Emperor Karl and his family were exiled to the island of Madeira where they lived in poverty, and where he bore a serious illness with great trust in God. He died in Funchal on 1 April 1922.

The date for his memorial was set as 21 October, the day on which he had married Zita, Princess of the House of Bourbon-Parma.

Blessed Karl, at great danger to yourself and your family, you worked diligently to end the incredible destruction and bloodshed of The Great War. In spite of losing your crowns, your power, your country, your wealth, and your health, you never lost your profound trust in God. Pray for us and for peace in our world torn by war, strive and terrorism.

O God, through the diversities of this world you led Blessed Karl from this earthly realm to the crown reserved for him in heaven. Grant through his intercession that we may so serve your Son and our brothers and sisters that we may become worthy of eternal life. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Blessed Karl of Austria, pray for us!

Monday 17 October 2011

Holy Year of Faith

VATICAN CITY, 16 OCT 2011 (VIS) - During Mass this morning in the Vatican Basilica, celebrated to mark the end of an international meeting on new evangelisation organised by the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation, Benedict XVI announced that he was calling a forthcoming "Year of Faith". the Vatican Information Service (VIS) report continues here.

VATICAN CITY, 17 OCT 2011 (VIS) - Made public today was "Porta fidei", the Apostolic Letter "Motu Proprio data" with which Benedict XVI proclaims a "Year of Faith", to begin on 11 October 2012, fiftieth anniversary of the opening of Vatican Council II, and due to end on 24 November 2013, Feast of Christ the King. Extracts from the English-language version of the Letter are given here.

Dominus conservet eum,
et vivificet eum,
et beatum faciat eum in terra,
et non tradat eum in animam inimicorum eius. (Ps. xl:3)

Saturday 15 October 2011

The ones that got away - Mayo

Green Scapular of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Another scapular widely adopted and reverenced is that of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. It has its origins in the little emblem consisting of a picture of the Sacred Heart sewn on white wollen cloth, which Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque so fervently advocated shoudl be constantly carried on the person. This humble emblem was eagerly sought and worn during the French Revolution, and fervently cherished by the miserable victims of the plague at Marseilles. Pope Pius IX granted indulgences to wearers of this badge in 1872, but it was not until 1900 that the real scapular of the Sacred Heart was approved by the Congregation of Rites.

It is made up of two segments of white cloth, one having an image of the Sacred Heart, the other that of the Blessed Virgin, Mother of Mercy. Numerous indulgences are the privilege of those who wear it.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in Thee!

Tuesday 11 October 2011


Our good friend Tim Thurston, presenter of Lyric FM's excellent Sunday morning programme of Sacred Music Gloria, is launching a book entitled Gloria An Introduction to 1,000 Years of Sacred Music.

With a special Christmas theme it tells the story of European Sacred Music from earliest times to the present day, interspersed with 20 pen portraits of the key composers. It also incorporates a CD featuring the best of their Christmas music from the renowned Hyperion catalogue and is sumptuously illustrated with Sacred Art for Christmas from Irish collections, some published for the first time.

Pre-order online now from: or

Saturday 8 October 2011

Back on the Rails II - All Rails Lead To Cork

1832 Map of Cork City

1852 Map of Cork City

1872 Map of Cork City

1893 Map of Cork City

When work began on Dargan's Great Southern and Western Railway line from Dublin to Cork in 1844 Cork was the most populous as well as the largest County in Ireland. By the time it arrived in 1849, the devastation of the Great Famine had reduced it to second most populous after Dublin. Cork's first train ran from Ballinhassig to Bandon a few months earlier.

Over the next 20 years the Cork, Bandon and South West Railway (1845), the Cork, Blackrock and Passage Railway (1850), the Cork, Youghal and Queenstown Railway (1854), and the Cork and Macroom Direct Railway (1861) started to throw out routes from Cork City across the County. Lines from Mallow to Kerry and Limerick to the west and to Tipperary and Waterford to the east and the Cork and Muskerry Railway (1883) complete the network, which is slowly reasserting itself through the redevelopment of closed lines and the reopening of closed stations.

Dublin City was circled by railway termini, Broadstone near St. Mary of the Angels, Amiens Street near the Pro-Cathedral, Westland Row near St. Andrew's, Harcourt Street near Whitefriar Street, and Kingsbridge near St. Paul's.

Likewise, as you can see on the above maps, Cork City was gradually circled by up to six railway termini. The first, at Glanmire Road, near St. Patrick's, for the Cork, Youghal and Queenstown Railway, and later also for the Great Southern and Western Railway, Albert Quay near Holy Trinity for the Cork, Bandon and Southern Coast Railway, nearby Albert Street for the Cork, Blackrock and Passage Railway, Capwell the South Chapel for the Cork Macroom Direct Railway, and Western Road near the Franciscans in Liberty Street for the Cork and Muskerry Light Railway. In this post I'll look briefly at Albert Quay, Albert Road and Holy Trinity.

Albert Quay Terminus

Albert Quay was re-named in 1849 in honour of the Consort of Queen Victoria of England on the occasion of the same visit when Cobh was re-named Queenstown. Now known as MacSweeney Quay in honour of the Republican Lord Mayor of Cork, the Quay contains the City Hall re-built after the Burning of Cork by British Crown Forces in 1921, and the terminus of the Cork, Bandon and Southern Coast Railway, opened in 1861. The station was linked to the Glanmire Road terminus by trams that ran over the iron bridge that you can see in the pictures. Trains stopped running into Albert Quay in 1961.

Albert Road Terminus

Just around the corner from the Albert Quay terminus is the Albert Road terminus of the Cork, Blackrock and Passage Railway, which was formerly a little further to the East, as you can see in the 1852, 1872 and 1893 maps. The Albert Road terminus opened in 1873 but closed to trains in 1932. While the Albert Quay building looks to me very like Broadstone Station in Dublin, the Albert Road building looks like a mix between the building that is now the Railway History Society at Heuston Station and some of the 'blind' platform walls on St. John's Road at Heuston Station.

Holy Trinity Church

A few minutes walk down the river from Albert (MacSweeney) Quay is the Capuchin House in Cork where the famous Fr. Theobald Mathew (1790–1856), the Apostle of Temperance, lived and laboured. The Church, which you can see from in front of the Albert Quay terminus, in a very un-Capuchin flamboyant Gothic, is the memorial to Fr. Mathew. The original church was more simple and the soaring facade was added in 1899. Hogan's great statue to Fr. Mathew at the start of Patrick's Street was unveiled in his honour in 1864. Interestingly, the Cork statue portrays him in the kind of street clothes that he would have worn but the statue in Dublin's O'Connell Street has him in his Capuchin habit.