Christ Church Cathedral
Christ Church is officially claimed as the seat (cathedra) of both the Church of Ireland and Roman Catholic archbishops of Dublin. In practice, it has been the cathedral of only the Church of Ireland's Archbishop of Dublin, since the English Reformation. Though nominally claimed as his cathedral, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin uses St Mary's in Malborough Street in Dublin, as his pro-cathedral.
Christ Church Cathedral is located in the former heart of medieval Dublin, next to Wood Quay, at the end of Lord Edward Street. However a major dual carriage-way building scheme around it separated it from the original medieval street pattern which once surrounded it, with its original architectural context (at the centre of a maze of small buildings and streets) lost due to road-building and the demolition of the older residential quarter at Wood Quay. As a result the cathedral now appears dominant in isolation behind new civil offices along the quays, out of its original medieval context.
Christ Church is the only one of the three cathedrals or acting cathedrals which can be seen clearly from the River Liffey.
The cathedral was founded probably sometime after 1028 when King Sitric Silkenbeard, the Hiberno-Norse king of Dublin made a pilgrimage to Rome. The first bishop of this new Dublin diocese was Dúnán or Donat, and the diocese was at that time a small island surrounded by a huge Diocese of Glendalough, and was for a time answerable to Canterbury rather than to the Irish Church hierarchy. The church was built on the high ground overlooking the Viking settlement at Wood Quay and Sitric gave the "lands of Baldoyle, Raheny and Portrane for its maintenance." Of the four old Celtic Christian churches reputed to have existed around Dublin, only one, dedicated to St. Martin of Tours, lay within the walls of the Viking city, and so Christ Church was one of just two churches for the whole city.
The cathedral was originally staffed by secular clergy. The second Bishop of Dublin introduced the Benedictines. In 1163, Christ Church was converted to a Priory of the Regular Order of Arrosian Canons (Reformed Augustinian Rule) by the second Archbishop of Dublin, later Saint, Laurence O'Toole, who adhered to the rule himself; it was subsequently headed by an Augustinian Prior, who ranked as the second ecclesiastical figure of the diocese, and not a Dean, until re-establishment in 1541. This priory, the Priory of the Holy Trinity, became the wealthiest religious house in Ireland, holding over 10,000 acres (40 km2) of property in County Dublin alone.
Henry II attended the Christmas service at the cathedral in 1171. According to the Cathedral guidebook this was the first time Henry took Holy Communion since the murder of Thomas Beckett by Henry's knights in Canterbury.
In the years thereafter, Strongbow and other Norman magnates helped to fund a complete rebuilding of Christ Church, comprising the construction of a choir, choir aisles and transepts, the crypt, and chapels to St. Edmund and St. Mary and St. Lô.
A chapel to St. Laurence O'Toole was added in the 13th century and much of the extant nave was built in the 1230s. Its design was inspired by the Architecture of the English western school of Gothic, and its wrought stones- of a Somersetshire oolite- were sculpted and laid by craftsmen from the same area.
In 1300 Archbishop Ferings of Dublin arranged an agreement between the two cathedrals, the Pacis Compostio, which acknowledged both as cathedrals and made some provision to accommodate their shared status.
By 1358, the nave of the cathedral was partly in use for secular purposes, and a "long quire" was added, extending the old choir area by around 10 metres.
The cathedral was the location of the purported coronation, in 1487, of Lambert Simnel, a boy pretender who sought unsuccessfully to depose Henry VII of England, as 'King Edward VI'.
In 1493, the Choir School was founded.
As discussed below, in 1539 King Henry VIII converted the Priory to a Cathedral with a Dean and Chapter, and worked to ensure Christ Church adhered to his new church structure. His immediate successor, Edward VI of England, in 1547, provided funds for an increase in cathedral staffing and annual royal funding for the Choir School.
King Edward VI formally suppressed St. Patrick's Cathedral and on 25 April 1547, its silver, jewels and ornaments were transferred to the Dean and Chapter of Christ Church. This episode ended with a late document of Queen Mary's reign, a deed dated 27 April 1558, comprising a release or receipt by Thomas Leverous, Dean, and the Chapter of St. Patrick's, of the "goods, chattels, musical instruments, etc.," belonging to that Cathedral, and which had been in the possession of the Dean and Chapter of Christ Church.
Queen Mary I of England, and later James I of England, also increased Christ Church's endowment. Meanwhile, in 1551, divine service was sung for the first time in Ireland in English instead of Latin. In 1560, the Bible was first read in English.
The foundations of the nave, resting in peat, slipped in 1562, bringing down the south wall and the arched stone roof (the north wall, which visibly leans, survived, and largely dates back to 1230). Partial repairs were carried out but much of the debris was simply levelled and new flooring built over it until 1871.
In the 17th century, both parliament and the law courts met in buildings erected alongside Christ Church. King James II himself presided over a state opening of parliament in that location. However, parliament and the law courts both moved elsewhere: the law courts to the newly built Four Courts and parliament to Chichester House in Hoggen Green (now College Green).
Some limited works were carried out between 1829 and 1831 but the building, as with nearby St. Patrick's, was in poor condition for much of the 19th century.
The cathedral was extensively renovated and rebuilt from 1871 to 1878 by George Edmund Street, with the sponsorship of distiller Henry Roe of Mount Anville. The great 14th century choir was demolished and a new eastern end was built over the original crypt. He built a new chapter house. The tower was rebuilt. The south nave arcade was rebuilt. The flying buttresses were added as a decorative feature. The north porch was removed. The baptistery was built in its place. Street built the adjacent Synod Hall, taking in the last remnant of St. Michael and All Angels's Church, including the bell tower. The synod house is linked to the cathedral by Street's iconic covered footbridge. Mr Roe spent over £230,000 at the time (over €26 million in 2006 terms). Further renovations were carried out, notably between 1980 and 1982.
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