on Wednesday, 23 August 2017 at 10.00 am by Peter Owen
categorised as Opinion
Kelvin Holdsworth Thurible To be an Episcopalian is not to be respectable
Zac Koons The Living Church Priests are not paid to do anything
Ben Witherington patheos St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Jonathan Swift
Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin
Unfortunately, the first photo on Ben Witherington’s piece is Christ Church Cathedral, up Patrick Street – to the north of St Patrick’s, and more commonly used by the archbishops after St Patrick’s became the ‘national cathedral’ in 1870 (for a long time the deans of Christ Church were bishops of Kildare, who had no cathedral of their own). The ‘knight’s helmets’ are those of the knights of St Patrick prior to 1871 (when the choir ceased to be the chapel of the order, and investitures were transferred to St Patrick’s Hall in Dublin Castle). The ‘royal box’ is the viceregal or presidential pew at the east end of the nave (probably last used by Lord Wimborne or Field Marshal Viscount Ypres (John French), and probably not by Douglas Hyde or Erskine Childers: indeed, when they died and their state funerals were held in the cathedral almost the entire Irish political, administrative, military and judicial establishment waited outside since, as RCs, they could not attend a protestant service; it may have been used more recently by presidents with ecumenical scruples).
Of course, other historic dioceses have had two cathedrals (e.g., Coventry and Lichfield), but I cannot readily think of another instance where a west European city has had more than one for the same denomination. Essentially, the reason for the two cathedrals is that Christ Church (within the city walls) originally catered for the Viking or Anglo-Norman population, whilst the parochial church of St Patrick’s – on marshy ground by the banks of the river Poddle – was outwith the walls and catered to the Celtic population. The first great Anglo-Norman archbishop, John Comyn (1181-1212), established a palace at St Sepulchre, with its own liberty, to the east of St Patrick’s (now occupied by the Kevin Street police station). He wanted his own cathedral away from the jurisdiction of the mayor of the city, with whom the archbishops had fraught relations; as such, St Patrick’s metamorphosed into a collegiate, then cathedral church (see J. H. Bernard – dean and provost of TCD, and prospective unionist archbishop – ‘The Early History of St Patrick’s Cathedral’ Irish Church Quarterly v. 4, no. 4 (April 1911), 97-111). The area was grindingly poor and has remained a district dominated by tenement buildings (the late Victorian slums being redeveloped with Guinness money; indeed, Sir Benjamin Guinness saved St Patrick’s and created the current setting).
The best recent history of St Patrick’s is that edited by John Crawford and Raymond Gillespie: ‘St Patrick’s Cathedral: a History’ (2009).
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