Re: Re: reordering and destruction of irish cathedrals – St Colmans Cathedral, Cobh

Home Forums Ireland reorganisation and destruction of irish catholic churches Re: Re: reordering and destruction of irish cathedrals – St Colmans Cathedral, Cobh


I add a picture of the magnificent Sanctuary Lamp of the Honan Chapel in Cork. It was commissioned by the Rev. Sir John O’Connell, to the glory of God, in memory of the Honan benefactors. It was designed by William Alphonsus Scott, first Professor of Architecture in the NUI, and executed by Edmond Johnson of Dublin.

The Sanctuary Lamp weighed 28 lbs. in sterling and consisted of a bowl of open-work interlace decoration embellished with blue enamel studs. It was suspended on chains.

Despite the dedicatory inscription which did not envisage the lamp being moved anywhere, it disappeared during the unfortunate (but reversable) 1980s re-ordering of the Honan Chapel. There is no liturgical justification for its removal. When placed in the Chapel in 1916, it was so placed in accordance with liturgical norm which found its way into the first Code of Canon Law published in 1917. The text of the 1917 canon on sanctuary lamps was transcribed practically verbatim into the 1983 Code of Canon Law which currently governs the positioning of sanctuary lamps. The assertion that the liturgical reform of Vatican II required the removal of the Sanctuary Lamp from the Honan Chapel is not only misleading but is positively mendacious.

The real reason for this bit of vandalism, I suspect, is to be found in an article by Gearoid O Suilleabhan entitled The re-ordering of the Honan Chapel in Verginia Teehan and Elizabeth Wincott-Heckett’s otherwise excellent monograph on the Collegiate Chapel The Honan Chapel: A golden vision , published in 2004 by Cork University Press. G. O Suilleabhan, aided by Richard Hurley and Vincent Ryan, reproduces a scanty potted version of the history of the Latin Rite for the past 2000 years. What is not mentioned, however, is that the historography employed in this potted history is that patronized by Odo Cassell and, the more notorious, Annibale Bugnini. This particular school posits a three fold division of the history of the liturgy: a primitive period: the golden age reached under Gregory the Great (d. 604); and a period of decline and degradation from the 7th century. In this school, the reform of the liturgy is seen in terms of an almost archeological restoration of the liturgy as celebrated at the time of Gregory the Great and a total jettisoning of any thing or practice to have arisen after that period. G. O Suilleabhan fails to tell us that this school of liturgical historiography was never completely accepted and has been even more eclipsed – if not indeed discredited- in liturgical research, especially over the past twent years. Alternative historical approaches, such as that advocated by Dom Alquin Reid, OSB, emphasise the continuity and organic development of the liturgy over a long period of time. That organic development sees the gradual emergence of new things and the demise of old things but excludes the kind of brutal caesura imposed on many Cathedrals and churches throughout the English speaking world in the name of the liturgical reforms of Vatican II.

I understand that plans are afoot to restore J.G. Mac Gloughlin’s grille to the west door of the Collegiate Chapel. Could it be too much to hope that such an important element in the decorative scheme of the Honan Chapel as the Sanctuary Lamp could not also be restored to its proper position.

I also include a picture of the High Altar of the chapel and would draw your attenton to the red altar light which is sitting on the mensa of the altar. It is surprising that the liturgists responsible for the removal of the Sanctuary Lamp (which should contain the light) did not seem to know that liturgical norms specifically prohibit placing anything of the like on an altar.

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