Re: Re: reorganisation and destruction of irish catholic churches

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St. Francis Xavier, Upper Gardiner Street.


The Jesuit Church of St. Francis Xavier, Upper Gardiner Street, was the first Catholic Church erected in Dublin following the passing of the Catholic Emancipation Act in 1829. Its predecessor at 30 Hardwicke Street was opened in 1816 by Fr. Charles Aylmer SJ, the first public chapel of the restored Society of Jesus. The four founders of the Church of SFX – Peter Kenny, Bartholomew Esmonde, Charles Aylmer and Archbishop Daniel Murray – received their early education in the school for the classics founded in 1750 by the Jesuits in Saul’s Court, off Fishamble St.With a design based on that of the church of the Gesu in Rome, the mother church of the Jesuits, Gardiner St church opened to the faithful on 3 May 1832, when Archbishop Murray celebrated the first Mass on a temporary altar. The foundation stone had been laid on 2 July 1829 by Fr. Charles Aylmer. On 12 February 1835, the church was solemnly blessed by the Archbishop in presence of 14 bishops and large congregation. The church when opened was 135’ long. It was extended in 1838 (at which time new High Altar was under construction in Rome), and in 1850 the sanctuary was extended by 25’, and a semicircular apse built which moved High Altar further back. The High Altar, 25’ high, is of an enriched classical Corinthian Order with 4 green scagliola columns. It was designed and assembled in Rome by Fr. B. Esmonde, while he was based at the Gesu, and who with Mr John B Keane was the architect of the church. It consists of many precious stones and marbles which include lapis lazuli in the drum over tabernacle with malachite inlay.


St Francis Xavier preaching in Japan ( oil on canvas) Over the high altar, by Bernardo Celantano. It is strange that the figrue of St Francis is over the high altar, as the crucifix is always the altar centre piece. however the Jesuits in the community overcame the dilemma by having Xavier pointing to the crucifix, thus appeasing the liturgists and allowing Fr Esmonde, the architect of the church and Superior, to have his way!




· Italinate portico is of Portland stone.

· Pediment sculptures placed over portico in Fr. Nicholas Walsh’s time (1877-84) – Sacred Heart, St. Ignatius and St. Francis Xavier – attributed to Terence Farrell RHA

· Pulpit of cast-iron with monogram of the Society of Jesus ‘HIS’ and gilded portrait heads of ‘Christ Crowned with Thorns’ and ‘Sorrowful Mother of Christ’

· The organ has been rebuilt several times, always in original organ case. Theoriginal instrument was made by Flight & Robson (London) 1836. Jesuits purchased it for 800 guineas.

· Sculptures in Transepts: ‘Jesus in Garden of Olives’, made by French sculptor Jacques Augustin Dieudonne in 1848

· ‘Madonna and Child’ by Roman sculptor Ignazio Jacometti in 1881.


· Four oil paintings in nave attributed to Pietro Gagliardi (Rome) and were hung in church in Fr. Nicholas Walsh’s time as Rector (1877-84)

Restorations 1877 (new roof); 1896 electricity installed (lit by gaslight before); 1932 redecorated. 1970 – extensive redecoration under Brendan Ellis, to comply with the liturgical norms and spirit of Vatican II, and a new altar table was erected in Cuban mahogany by William Hicks.

Other minor restorations and structural works done in 1974, 1983,1989 and 1990s.

St Francis Xavier – stained glass 1906, Earley of Dublin.[/align:3ahwgvdm]

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