Tuesday, 27 June 2017

National Latin Mass Pilgrimage to Armagh 2017

To mark the 10th Anniversary of Summorum Pontificum the Catholic Heritage Association of Ireland made our second pilgrimage to St. Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh.  A report of the first pilgrimage can be read here.  It was a truly National Pilgrimage with members coming from Antrim, Armagh, Cavan, Clare, Cork, Donegal, Dublin, Galway, Kildare, Limerick, Louth, Meath, Monaghan, Wexford and Wicklow - the Four Provinces of Ireland all represented - to assist at Holy Mass and attend our Annual General Meeting held afterwards in the Synod Hall attached to the Cathedral.

However, one element of the pilgrimage above all made it a most blessed occasion, the presence of His Eminence Seán, Cardinal Brady, Archbishop Emeritus of Armagh, to celebrate the Mass.  In his homily, Cardinal Brady reminded the congregation that the Traditional Latin Mass had been the Mass of his Altar service, of his First Communion and Confirmation, and of his Ordination and his First Mass.  He also reminded us that this day, the feast of St. John the Baptist, was his own feast day.  Cardinal Brady is to attend the Consistory on 28th June with Our Holy Father, Pope Francis.  His Eminence was assisted by Fr. Aidan McCann, C.C., who was ordained in the Cathedral only two years ago.  It was a great privilege and joy for the members and friends of the Catholic Heritage Association to share so many grace-filled associations with Cardinal Brady and Fr. McCann and the Armagh Cathedral community.
















Monday, 12 June 2017

Archbishop Sheen in Dublin

Archbishop Fulton Sheen was born in El Paso IL on 8th May, 1895. He was ordained a Priest on 20th September, 1919. On 11th June, 1950, he was consecrated a Bishop in the Basilica of Ss. John and Paul in Rome. He was named as Bishop of Rochester NY on 26th October, 1969. He died on 9th December, 1979.


These recordings of Archbishop Sheen speaking about St. Thérèse of Lisieux in the Carmelite Church, Whitefriar Street, Dublin, Ireland, in 1973, are introduced by the late Fr. J. Linus Ryan, O.Carm. Archbishop Sheen was a regular visitor to Whitefriar Street, particularly in 1969, 1971, 1973 and 1975. He was a firm friend of the Community there.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Pilgrimage to Fairview 2017

As the Archdiocesan website tell us, the building of the Church of the Visitation started in 1847 and it opened on the 14th of January 1855 and was dedicated on the 12th of October 1856. The Parish was entrusted to Conventual Franciscans March 1987.  However, this part of Dublin, so close to the site of the famous Battle of Clontarf, is steeped in history.  

The Parish has its origins in the Parish of Coolock, one of the medieval Parishes of Dublin and one of the few still operating during the Penal Era.  Until 1829, the whole of the area including Clontarf was part of this then rural Parish.  The Parish of Clontarf was formed in the auspicious year 1829 and building of the Church of St. John the Baptist commenced soon afterwards.  A monastic chapel for a community of Carmelite oblates served as the chapel of Fairview for the first half of the 19th century.

By the time the Church of the Visitation opened, the area had begun its rapid development.  All Hallows College had opened in 1842 and Clonliffe College opened in 1854.  The Archbishop was not to move from Rutland (now Parnell Square) to the present Archbishop's House - designed by our good friend William Hague - until 1891.  The Church of the Visitation was among the later designs of our good friend Patrick Byrne.  In 1879, the new Parish of Fairview was erected.  In the late 1920s and 1930s, the area just to the north and east of Fairview Church was developed for housing and the new Church of St. Vincent de Paul on Griffith Avenue completed in 1928 as the chapel of ease - forming its own Parish in 1942.  





Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Pilgrimage to Loughrea Cathedral 2017

On 27th May last members of the Catholic Heritage Association and friends from far and near made a pilgrimage to St. Brendan's Cathedral, Loughrea, for a Traditional Latin Mass.  I was very struck by the kind hospitality of the Cathedral team and to the gentle reverence of the Liturgy that we joined.

If you haven't been to Loughrea Cathedral - and one of the best things about the Catholic Heritage Association is that we devoutly go where few have gone before - you really should see this magnificent House of God.  While almost all of our Churches - prayers in stone - are in the language of Greece or Rome or the simple words of poverty a few have tried to recapture something that is distinctly Irish.  St. Brendan's is predominantly gothic, which is an imported style, rather than the hiberno-romanesque that may be considered a native by adoption in the earliest days of stone church building, but by a happy combination of circumstances it contains so much fruit of the late nineteenth century Celtic revival.

The foundation stone of the cathedral was laid on October 10, 1897, and took six years to complete. The basic fabric is to the design of William Byrne. The cathedral features stained glass windows from An Túr Gloine, the famous Irish stained glass studio, including Michael Healy's Saint Simeon, Madonna and Child, Saint Anthony and Saint John, St. Joseph, Christ the King, Our Lady Queen of Heaven, The Ascension and The Last Judgement, a Saint Brigid window by Evie Hone, an Annunciation, Agony in the Garden, Resurrection, Baptism in the Jordan, St. Ita, St. Patrick and Centurion of Great Faith, all by Childe. There is also a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary by John Hughes, bronze angels by Michael Shortall and metalwork including communion rails, nave lanterns and stands by William Scott and Michael Shortall. The Stations of the Cross are mosaics by Ethel Rhind. The cathedral was very sensitively reordered with almost nothing removed - except the fine Episcopal Throne now reigning in solitary splendor in the porch under the tower.







Sunday, 14 May 2017

St. Garbhan of Clonshambo and Athgarvan

Regarding Clonshambo in the Parish of Kilcock, Dr. Comerford tells us:

Cluain-seann-both, i.e., "the meadow of the old tent or hut"); this parish may have derived its name from the hermit’s cell of one of the saints who made it their abode. St. Garbhan, brother of St. Kevin of Glendalough, was culted here on the 14th of May. In the Life of St. Kevin it is related that at one time he was inclined to wander about as a pilgrim, but St. Garbhan (probably of Clonshanbo) prevented him by observing that "it was not by flying, birds hatched their eggs.

The patron saint of this district is St. German; the parochial register has "Parochia Sti. Germani de Clonshanbo;" and in Bishop MacGeoghegan’s list of parish churches, compiled about 1640, we find Ecclesia Sti. Germani de Cluenseannbo set down.

Which of the saints of that name was patron here it is not easy to determine. St. Patrick having preached the Gospel in this locality, gives probability to the supposition, that St. German, Bishop of Auxerre, the great spiritual guide under whose direction our National Saint prepared himself for the future Apostleship of Ireland, some say, for 14 years, others, for so many as 30 years, - is meant. Another opinion is that St. German, nephew of St. Patrick, who helped him in his missionary labours, and was afterwards the first Bishop of the Isle of Man, was the saint honoured at Clonshanbo. There is yet another theory on this subject. In the Life of St. Ciaran of Saighar, mention is made of a holy hermit named Geaman, or Gemman, who is called German by Colgan, and is identical with a bard of that name "who lived in Leinster, near the confines of Meath."

It is related that St. Columba, after receiving the Holy Order of Deaconship in the monastery of St. Finian of Mohill, set out for Leinster, and became a pupil of this Gemman, then advanced in years, and after passing some time with him, he entered the monastic school of Clonard (Loca. Patr., p.298). Between these three the choice seems to lie. The second-name is honoured in the Martyrology of Tallaght, at the 30th of July: German MacGuill."

Regarding Athgarvan in the Parish of Newbridge, he also relates

Father Shearman (Loca Patr. Gen. Tab. 10p.180) surmises that the name of this place may be derived from St. Garbhan (Ath-Garbhan, i.e., “the Ford of Garbhan”), nephew of St. Finnan of Clonard, and kinsman of St. Kevin of Glendalough. This Saint, whose feast was assigned to May 14th, was identified also with Clonshambo, as already stated in the Paper on Kilcock."

St. Garbhan of Clonshambo and Athgarvan, pray for us!

Monday, 17 April 2017

Archbishop Sheen Narrates...

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen narrates the Traditional Latin Mass:


The Mass in this clip was filmed on Easter Sunday, 1941, at the Church of Our Lady of Sorrows, the Church of the Servite Order in Chicago. The celebrant was Revd. Fr. J. R. Keane, O.S.M. Deacon and Subdeacon were Revv. Hugh Calkins, O.S.M., and Frank Calkins, O.S.M., respectively. The musical setting of the Ordinary of the Mass, 'The Mass of Christ the King,' was composed by Rev. Edwin V. Hoover. The Schola Cantorum of the Mundelin Seminary, Chicago, under the direction of Revd. Fr. Joseph T. Kush, C.G.M., sang the proper of the Mass.

In the course of his narration, Archbishop Sheen said: “It is a long-established principle of the Church never to completely drop from her public worship any ceremony, object or prayer, which once occupied a place in that worship.” Mind you, that was in 1941. What a difference 70 years makes!

Sunday, 16 April 2017

The Sequence of Easter

The Sequence in the Gregorian Rite is a rare thing. One of the more radical changes made by St. Pius V in the Missal of 1570 was the reduction in the number of Sequences to four - with the Stabat Mater Dolorosa added by the saintly Pope Benedict XIII in 1727, perhaps incongruously for the rank of the feast, for the Seven Dolours of Our Lady in Passion Week.

The other four are the Sequences of Easter, Victimae Pascali Laudes, of Pentecost, Veni Sancte Spiritus, of Corpus Christi, Lauda Sion Salvatorem, and All Souls, Dies Irae.

The Sequence is a hymn that is sung on particular feasts immediately before the Gospel. Taken with the long Tract of the First Sunday of Lent, the effect can be the heightening of expectation before the singing of the Gospel. However, the Sequence, unlike the Introit and the Gradual and Alleluia, seems to emphasise the text over the music. That is to say, there are generally fewer notes per syllable, making the Sequences resemble speech more closely. That would seem to indicate that the Church intended the text of the Sequence to be far more like a Lesson (a reading) than a Chant. It seems to me, therefore, that the faithful should give great attention to the Sequences, both as hymnody and as texts upon which to meditate.


In the first clip, the ladies from gloria.tv sing the usual chant version of Victimae Pascali Laudes. It is rhythmic and syllabic. It is also strophed, which is a common feature of the Sequences. That is to say, the melody of each line is repeated in the next. Compare this with the other four 'original' sequences.


The second clip has an irresistable energy to it that may not be quite correct as plain chant but, as liturgical music, does not depart very far from Gregorian Chant itself, while being a distinctive form. It certainly captures the victorious and triumphant theme of Easter.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

St. Tighernach of Clones and Clogher - god-son of St. Brigid

Dr. Lanigan, in his work, An ecclesiastical history of Ireland, Chapter IX, relates of St. Tigernach, as follows:

"St. Maccarthen of Clogher, whose history I have been obliged to anticipate, died, as already stated, in the year 506; and, as some say, on the 24th of March. He was succeeded by St. Tigernach, who fixed his see or residence at Cluaneois (Clunes or Clones) in the county of Monaghan, still retaining government of the church of Clogher, for which reason he was surnamed Ferdachrioch, or the man of two districts. He is said to have been of a princely family, grandson, by his mother, of a king Echodius, and to have had St. Brigid for godmother, through whose recommendation he was raised to the episcopal dignity. He had received his clerical education, as we are told, in the monastery of Rosnat in Great Britain under the holy abbot Monennus, and, it seems founded that of Clones before he was appointed bishop."

Dr. Lanigan comments on the association of St. Brigid with St. Tigernach:

"If this narrative deserves credit, we must suppose that St. Brigid's standing as godmother for Tigernach was in her younger days, and, at least 30 years before A.D. 506. On this occasion it is observed that whoever was recommended for the episcopacy by St. Brigid, was immediately approved of and chosen by the clergy and people. (Compare with what has been said about Conlaeth of Kildare Chap. VIII, No. 10)"

Dr. Lanigan, in a passage that is a model of his scholarship and his prose, speculates upon the location of Rosnat Abbey:

"Where was that monastery of Rosnat? Neither the Monasticon Anglicanum, Stevens, Tanner, Nasmith, nor Camden have, as far as I could discover, a word about it, although it is often mentioned in the Acts of some Irish saints. In those of Tigernach, quoted by Colgan (ib.) it is observed that it was otherwise called Alba, or white. Colgan hence concludes that it was no other than the famous monastery of Bangor or Banchor near the river Dee a few miles from Chester, which must be carefully distinguished from the present episcopal town Bangor, which lies far to the West of where the monastery stood. (See Usher, p. 183.) His chief argument is that Ban, in Irish, signifies white, and so Ban-chor was the same as white choir. But, waving certain doubts concerning the said monastery having existed at that early period, it is to be recollected that Ban has not that signification in the British language, which is that to be looked to in this inquiry. I suspect that Rosnat or Alba was the celebrated see called Candida casa or White house, now Whitethorn. (See Not. 149, to Chap. 1.) The illustrious Ninia or Ninian had founded that see in the 5th century, and there can be no doubt of an ecclesiastical school having been established there. (See Usher, p. 661. seqq.) When we read of Nennio being the bishop, to whom some Irish students were sent, this, I believe, must be understood as originally meaning that they were sent to the school held in the see or Nennio or Ninia, who was dead before Tigernach or Finnian could have repaired thither. And in fact Finnian's master is called Mugentius, and what is very remarkable, the place Candida (AA. SS. p. 634). The master of Endeus of Arran, who is also said to have been at that school, is called not Nennio but Mansenus. Let me add that Candida casa lay very convenient for students from the North of Ireland; and it is worth observing, that of those, who are spoken of as having studied at Rosnat or Alba, scarcely one is to be found that was not a native of Ulster. There is a village and parish in Dumbartonshire, called Roseneath, anciently Rossnachioch, (Stat. Acct. of Scotland, Vol. IV. p. 71.) But there is no mention of a monastery having been there."

He goes on to quote from the Four Masters regarding the death of the Saint:

"An. 548 (549) St. Tigernac, bishop of Cluaineois, died on the 4th of April."

The Martyrology of Donegal gives his death as 4th April, 548, and gives something of his descent as follows:

"Bishop of Cluaoi-eois in Fera-Manach, or it is between Fera-Manach and Oirghialla Cluain-eois is. Tighernach is of the race of Cathaoir Mór, Monarch of Erinn, of the Leinstermen. Dearfraoich, daughter of Eochaidh, son of Criomhthann, king of Oirchiall, was his mother."

In the Life of St. Tighernach, quoted in Butler's Lives of the Irish Saints, it is stated that, while passing through Kildare, city of St. Brigid, with his foster-father, Cormac, who may well have been his maternal grandfather, the future saint was baptised by St. Conleth. Butler continues:

"From the foregoing narrative, Bollandus infers, that as Conlaid had been a bishop, when he baptized St. Tighernach, his elevation to the episcopal rank must have been accomplished previous to A.D. 480. For, St. Maccarthen died in the year 506; and, he was immediately succeeded in the See of Clogher by St. Tighernach. Supposing correctness in the foregoing account, it is conjectured, his baptism must have taken place, at least thirty years before the latter date, and during the younger days of his godmother, St. Brigid."

St. Tigernach of Clones and Clogher, pray for us!

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Lent IV

As Lent turns into Passiontide, the Catholic mind turns more intensely to thoughts of the Cross, to Christ Crucified and to His Sorrowing Mother. The hymn Stabat Mater Dolorosa sets this theme.

It is ascribed popularly to the Franciscan Jacopone di Todi, but is also ascribed by Pope Benedict XIV, with a wealth of scholarship, to Pope Innocent III. It was only in the year 1727 that it entered the Roman Liturgy, being assigned to the feast of the Seven Dolours of Our Lady, on the Friday after Passion Sunday (and before Palm Sunday!).

I have searched in vain for the chant version, so familiar from traditional renditions of the Stations of the Cross. This happy fault forces us to look at the rich inspiriation that the Church's Liturgy has provided for composers of every age.


First in time, of the three examples here is that of Fr. Antonio Vivaldi, composed about 1727, the same year that it was introduced to the Roman Missal, probably for the girls of the Pio Ospedale della Pieta, or State Orphanage of Venice, where he had been on the staff until 1711. The composition is divided into eight sections. The melodies of sections 1 to 3 are repeated in sections 4 to 6. Only the first 10 stanzas of the hymn are used.


The second is the Stabat Mater of the short-lived Giovanni Battista Pergolesi composed in 1736. The German poet German poet Tieck once wrote: "I had to turn away to hide my tears, especially at the place, 'Vidit suum dulcem natum'" in speaking of this setting. The melodies have given rise to some criticism because they were thought to be too cheerful. Of particular note is the line: 'dum e-mi-sit' in that it is marked to be sung intermittently to create a musical picture of the last breaths of Our Lord on the Cross. This device has been copied by other composers.


Finally, we will consider the Stabat Mater of Giacomo Rossini, written in 1832 and revised in 1841. The composition was not intended for liturgical use. It is essentially a performance piece. However, despite the obvious operatic tendencies, this seems not to have been Rossini's intention. Writing of his Petite Messe, he says that his sacred works come of a real religious feeling: "Here it is then, this poor little Mass. Have I written truly sacred music, or just bad music? I was born for opera buffa, as you well know. Not much skill, but quite a bit of feeling - that's how I'd sum it up. Blessed be Thy name, and grant me a place in Paradise".

While the sensuality of the composition has often been regarded as unsuitable for the sanctity of the theme, Rossini's defenders, who included Fr. Taunton, one of Cardinal Manning's Oblates of St. Charles, have said: "critics who judge it harshly, and dilettanti who can listen to it unmoved . . . must either be case-hardened by pedantry, or destitute of all 'ear for music'".

Mother of Sorrows, pray for us!

Sunday, 26 March 2017

St. Senchel of Clane and Killeigh

St. Sinell, or Senchell, one of the most distinguished ecclesiastics of his time, founded a Monastery of Killeigh at the beginning of the sixth century. This monastery became afterwards known as the Priory of the Holy Cross of Canons Regular of St. Augustine. St. Senchell, who is stated to have been St. Patrick’s first convert, was the son of Kennfinnain, and grandson of Inchad, or Finchada, of the royal blood of Leinster (Colgan, Trias. Thaum.) The father of the saint was ninth in descent from Cathair Mor, monarch of Ireland. In both the Martyrology of Tallaght and the Feiliré, St. Aengus notes the 5th of April as the Feast of the first Baptism conferred by St. Patrick in Ireland: —“Baptisma Patricii venit ad Hiberniam.” (Mart. Tall.)

“Excellent Patrick’s baptism was kindled in Ireland.” (Feiliré.) On this latter the gloss in the Leabhar Breac adds, “i. Smell, son of Finchad of the Ui-Garrchon, he is the first person Patrick baptised in Ireland.” It is related that St. Ailbe, of Emly, presented him a cell, in which he had himself lived for some time, at Cluain Damh (now Clane, County Kildare). We find St. Senchell afterwards at Killeigh, where he founded a monastery, which in course of time became very celebrated. In order to distinguish him from another St. Senchell, a relative of his, who lived with him at Killeigh (and who is styled Bishop in the litany of St. Aengus), he is usually called senior.

Having lived to a good old age, he died on the 26th of March, AD 549, in his monastery at Killeigh, and was interred there. Petrie states that St Kieran and the two Senchells died of the Plague which raged in 549.

In the litany of St. Aengus Ceile De, written in AD. 799, we have evidence of the celebrity and holiness to which this religious establishment had attained. “Thrice fifty holy bishops with twelve pilgrims, under Senchell the elder, a priest; Senchell the younger, a bishop; and the twelve bishops who settled ia Cill Achaidh Dromfota in Hy Failghi. These are the names of the bishops of Cill Achaidh: —Three Budocis, three Canocis, Morgini, six Vedgonis, six Beaunis, six Bibis, nine Glonalis, nine Ercocinis, nine Grucimnis, twelve Uennocis, twelve Contumanis, twelve Onocis, Senchilli, Britanus from Britain, Cerrui, from Armenia. All these I invoke unto my aid through Jesus Christ.” And again: —“ The twelve Conchennaighi, with the two Senchells in Cill Achaidh, I invoke unto my aid through Jesus Christ.” (IE. Record, May, 1867.) The learned editor of this litany (which he copied from a MS. in the archives of St. Isidore’s at Rome), in a note on the eight monastic rules of the early Irish Saints extant, writes as follows “We may add that we have ourselves discovered another, some-what different from these, in the St. Isidore MS. from which this litany is published, and we regret that want of space alone prevents us from laying it before our readers. It is entitled— The Pious Rules and Practices of the School of Senchil. This was Senchil, surnamed the Elder. The Rules and Practices are 38 in number. When we say that an ardent desire of hearing, and offering up the holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and frequent confession were amongst the rules and practices of a school which was celebrated in the first half of the sixth century, we have said enough to prove under what system of education Ireland became ‘another name for piety, and learning in most of the languages of Europe.”

The Irish Annalists relate that in the year 1163 “Glendalough was burned with the house of Kieran, the house of Kevin, and the Church of the two Senchells.” Commenting on this passage, Petrie writes “I am disposed to conclude that the unnamed Church to the S. of St. Kevin’s house (at Glendalough) is that called by the Annalists “The Regles of the two Senchells.’ I may add that we may infer, with every appearance of probability, that all these buildings were of contemporaneous age, and that, if not erected by the persons whose names they bore, those called after St. Kieran and the two Senchells were erected by St. Kevin in their honour, as, though they were all contemporaneous, and Kevin was the dearest friend of Kieran of Clonmacnoise, he survived both him and the Senchells more than sixty years, having lived, according to Tighernagh, to the extraordinary age of 129.” (Petrie’s Round Towers, p. 436.)

ANNALS OF KILLEIGH

AD. 548. St. Senchell the Elder, son of Ceanannan, Abbot of Cill-Achaidh-Droma-foda, died on the 26th day of March. Thirty and three hundred years was the length of his life. (Four Masters.) Colgan (AL SS., p. 747), thinks this number should be one hundred and thirty. In the Mart. Tal. we find at 26th March, “Sinchelli, Abb. Chilli Achaidh; and at 25th June, “Sinchell Cilli Achaidh.” The former refers to St. Senchell, Senior, the latter to St. Senchell, Junior.

The Feiliré makes the 26th of March the “Feast of the two perennial Sinchells of vast Cill Achid;” to which entry the gloss in the Leabhar Breac adds

“Three hundred years—fine satisfaction! That was (the elder) Siachelfs lifetimeAnd thrice ten years brightlyWithout sin, without sloth.”

26 March. Sincheall, Abbot of Cill-achaidh-dromfota, i.e., the old Sincheall. It was of him this character was given after his death: -

“The men of heaven, the men of earth,
A surrounding host,
Thought that the day of judgment
Was the Death of Seancheall.

There came not, there will not come from Adam,
One more austere, more strict in piety;
There came not, there will not come, all say it,
Another Saint more welcome to the men of heaven.”— (The Martyrology of Donegal)

From Dr. Comerford's Collections relating to the Dioceses of Kildare and Leighlin

St. Senchel of Clane and Killeigh, pray for us!

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

St. Senchel of Clane and Killeigh

St. Sinell, or Senchell, one of the most distinguished ecclesiastics of his time, founded a Monastery of Killeigh at the beginning of the sixth century. This monastery became afterwards known as the Priory of the Holy Cross of Canons Regular of St. Augustine. St. Senchell, who is stated to have been St. Patrick’s first convert, was the son of Kennfinnain, and grandson of Inchad, or Finchada, of the royal blood of Leinster (Colgan, Trias. Thaum.) The father of the saint was ninth in descent from Cathair Mor, monarch of Ireland. In both the Martyrology of Tallaght and the Feiliré, St. Aengus notes the 5th of April as the Feast of the first Baptism conferred by St. Patrick in Ireland: —“Baptisma Patricii venit ad Hiberniam.” (Mart. Tall.)

“Excellent Patrick’s baptism was kindled in Ireland.” (Feiliré.) On this latter the gloss in the Leabhar Breac adds, “i. Smell, son of Finchad of the Ui-Garrchon, he is the first person Patrick baptised in Ireland.” It is related that St. Ailbe, of Emly, presented him a cell, in which he had himself lived for some time, at Cluain Damh (now Clane, County Kildare). We find St. Senchell afterwards at Killeigh, where he founded a monastery, which in course of time became very celebrated. In order to distinguish him from another St. Senchell, a relative of his, who lived with him at Killeigh (and who is styled Bishop in the litany of St. Aengus), he is usually called senior.

Having lived to a good old age, he died on the 26th of March, AD 549, in his monastery at Killeigh, and was interred there. Petrie states that St Kieran and the two Senchells died of the Plague which raged in 549.

In the litany of St. Aengus Ceile De, written in AD. 799, we have evidence of the celebrity and holiness to which this religious establishment had attained. “Thrice fifty holy bishops with twelve pilgrims, under Senchell the elder, a priest; Senchell the younger, a bishop; and the twelve bishops who settled ia Cill Achaidh Dromfota in Hy Failghi. These are the names of the bishops of Cill Achaidh: —Three Budocis, three Canocis, Morgini, six Vedgonis, six Beaunis, six Bibis, nine Glonalis, nine Ercocinis, nine Grucimnis, twelve Uennocis, twelve Contumanis, twelve Onocis, Senchilli, Britanus from Britain, Cerrui, from Armenia. All these I invoke unto my aid through Jesus Christ.” And again: —“ The twelve Conchennaighi, with the two Senchells in Cill Achaidh, I invoke unto my aid through Jesus Christ.” (IE. Record, May, 1867.) The learned editor of this litany (which he copied from a MS. in the archives of St. Isidore’s at Rome), in a note on the eight monastic rules of the early Irish Saints extant, writes as follows “We may add that we have ourselves discovered another, some-what different from these, in the St. Isidore MS. from which this litany is published, and we regret that want of space alone prevents us from laying it before our readers. It is entitled— The Pious Rules and Practices of the School of Senchil. This was Senchil, surnamed the Elder. The Rules and Practices are 38 in number. When we say that an ardent desire of hearing, and offering up the holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and frequent confession were amongst the rules and practices of a school which was celebrated in the first half of the sixth century, we have said enough to prove under what system of education Ireland became ‘another name for piety, and learning in most of the languages of Europe.”

The Irish Annalists relate that in the year 1163 “Glendalough was burned with the house of Kieran, the house of Kevin, and the Church of the two Senchells.” Commenting on this passage, Petrie writes “I am disposed to conclude that the unnamed Church to the S. of St. Kevin’s house (at Glendalough) is that called by the Annalists “The Regles of the two Senchells.’ I may add that we may infer, with every appearance of probability, that all these buildings were of contemporaneous age, and that, if not erected by the persons whose names they bore, those called after St. Kieran and the two Senchells were erected by St. Kevin in their honour, as, though they were all contemporaneous, and Kevin was the dearest friend of Kieran of Clonmacnoise, he survived both him and the Senchells more than sixty years, having lived, according to Tighernagh, to the extraordinary age of 129.” (Petrie’s Round Towers, p. 436.)

ANNALS OF KILLEIGH

AD. 548. St. Senchell the Elder, son of Ceanannan, Abbot of Cill-Achaidh-Droma-foda, died on the 26th day of March. Thirty and three hundred years was the length of his life. (Four Masters.) Colgan (AL SS., p. 747), thinks this number should be one hundred and thirty. In the Mart. Tal. we find at 26th March, “Sinchelli, Abb. Chilli Achaidh; and at 25th June, “Sinchell Cilli Achaidh.” The former refers to St. Senchell, Senior, the latter to St. Senchell, Junior.

The Feiliré makes the 26th of March the “Feast of the two perennial Sinchells of vast Cill Achid;” to which entry the gloss in the Leabhar Breac adds

“Three hundred years—fine satisfaction! That was (the elder) Siachelfs lifetimeAnd thrice ten years brightlyWithout sin, without sloth.”

26 March. Sincheall, Abbot of Cill-achaidh-dromfota, i.e., the old Sincheall. It was of him this character was given after his death: -

“The men of heaven, the men of earth,
A surrounding host,
Thought that the day of judgment
Was the Death of Seancheall.

There came not, there will not come from Adam,
One more austere, more strict in piety;
There came not, there will not come, all say it,
Another Saint more welcome to the men of heaven.”— (The Martyrology of Donegal)

From Dr. Comerford's Collections relating to the Dioceses of Kildare and Leighlin

St. Senchel of Clane and Killeigh, pray for us!

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Lent III

In 1350, Pope Clement VI determined that each of the four principal Marian Antiphons would be assigned, each to its own season. Two are very familiar to us, the Regina Caeli and the Salve Regina. Indeed, you would sometimes think that Pope Clement had assigned the Salve Regina to every Latin Mass in saecula saeculorum, in season and out of season.

However, the other two antiphons, both beautiful and beautifully short, are lost treasures for the great majority of Catholics and even the great majority of Catholics attached to the Gregorian Rite. The Alma Redemptoris Mater is assigned to Advent and Christmastide. The Ave Regina Caelorum is assigned to the time from after Purification until Holy Thursday. It is, in effect, the Marian Antiphon of Lent.


In this clip, the Antiphon is performed by Tien-Ming Pan, organist of St. Paul's Catholic Church, Taipei, upon the organ of Aletheia University, Taiwan. Once again, even this simple, short prayer to Our Lady displays the universality, both in time and space, of the Catholic Church and of devotion to the Mother of God. Henceforth, all generations shall call me blessed (Luke i:48).


Despite its relative hiddenness today, it is not difficult to find examples of settings of the Ave Regina Caelorum. Among the compositions by less well-known composers is that in the second clip by Jachet of Mantua. Jachet's religious works, almost the whole of his oeuvre, may be taken as a fair representation of the mind of the Fathers of the Council of Trent upon polyphonic Church music, especially the President of the Council, Ercole, Cardinal Gonzaga, scion of the great Ducal House of Manutua, Bishop of Mantua and Jachet's principal patron.


In the clip above is the setting by Giovanni Legrenzi (1626-1690), one of the maestri di capella of St. Mark's in Venice. His Ave Regina Caelorum, in the clip above, clearly displays the eastern idiom that was charasteristic of Venetian Church Music. That eastern or Byzantine influence is most obviously demonstrated in In Ecclesiis by Giovanni Gabrieli (1554-1612). The Gabrielis, uncle and nephew, are the most notable exponants of the Venetian School.


Johann Kasper Kerll (1627-1693) was an influential, although now hardly known, Catholic organist and Baroque composer who served both the House of Habsburg (in Vienna and Brussels) and the House of Wittlesbach (in Munich). His Ave Regina Caelorum has the richness of the Baroque but with a sobriety suited to its devotional theme. Certainly my favourite of the three.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

A Collect for the Feast of Saint David


As today is the feast of Saint David, patron of Wales, I have made a post at my own site on some of the Irish sources which honour him. Saint David is represented in the earliest surviving Irish Martyrologies as well as the Irish Annals and the hagiographies of some Irish saints including Saint Ailbe of Emly and Saint Molua. His own hagiographer,  Rhygyfarch, mentions a number of Irish saints, Patrick and Brendan among them. Some manuscript versions of Rhygyfarch's eleventh-century Uita Sancti Dauid also preserve some of the texts of the Mass of Saint David, something made all the more important by the fact that there are no surviving copies of pre-Reformation Welsh liturgical books. So, for all those in Ireland who celebrate the feast of Saint David, especially for the good people of Naas, County Kildare, who enjoy his patronage, here is the collect for the feast as preserved in the Vita:

O God who didst foretell thy blessed confessor and bishop, David, by the message of an angel to Patrick, prophesying thirty years before his birth: we beseech thee that by his intercession, whose memory we are keeping, we may attain to eternal joys. Through...

Silas M. Harris, Saint David in the Liturgy (Cardiff, 1940), p.14.

If you are interested in further reading on the links between the Welsh patron and the Irish I have reprinted a paper on Irish devotion to Saint David from the Irish Rosary magazine of 1921 which can be read at my own site here. An earlier post on Saint David and Naas is available at this site here.


Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Lent II

The Miserere (which is Psalm 50 in traditional Catholic Bibles) is the ultimate psalm of penitence. It features prominently throughout the liturgical year but, as you would expect, nowhere more prominently than during Lent. Incidentally, both Psalms 55 and 56 also begin with the words Miserere Mei Deus. During Lent, Psalm 50 is included in all Sunday and Weekday Vespers (on Sundays from Septuagesima), and, most famously, during Tenebrae of Holy Week.

Psalm 50 is one of the Seven Penitential Psalms. The others are Psalms 6, 31, 37, 101, 129 and 142. The lenten devotion of reciting the Seven Penitential Psalms was common throughut Christendom and deserves to be common again.


The setting in this video is that of Allegri and is the most famous musical setting of Psalm 50. It is one of the three settings (that of Abbot Giuseppe Baini on Wednesday, that of Tommaso Bai on Thursday, and Allegri's on Friday) that were annually sung during the Tenebrae in the Papal Chapel.

These settings acquired a considerable reputation for mystery and inaccessibility because the Holy See forbade the making of copies of the music held by the Sistine Chapel Choir, threatening any publication or attempted copy with excommunication. However, a young Mozart attended the ceremonies of Holy Week at the Vatican in 1770 and transcribed them from memory afterwards. Although, it must be admitted that the version that emerged is a conflation of the settings of Allegri and Bai.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Lent I

As with Advent, the season of Lent is forgotten by the modern mind. Penance, preparation, patience are all too much for it. For the modern mind, it must be fun, easy and instant. As with the hymns of Advent, the hymns of Lent can be one means of restoring the spirit of Lent. The wisdom of the Church has foreseen this need and ensures that, since the organ is silent during Lent to increase the sense of penance and simplicity, the hymns of Lent are simple enough to sing unaccompanied. Here is the first 'theme song' of Lent, Attende Domine.


Attende Domine, et miserere, quia peccavimus tibi. "Hear, O Lord, and have mercy upon us, who have sinned against Thee" is the constant refrain of this hymn, and the constant refrain of the Liturgy (and, hopefully, of the penitent soul) during Lent. The hymn is in Mode V and is based upon a tenth century lenten litany from the Mozarabic Rite. While most of the modern Gregorian Chant derives from the music of the Papal Chapel or the Frankish Imperial Chapel, some has been adopted, on account of its beauty and depth, from the Mozarabic Liturgy of the Visigothic Kingdom of Spain.

The gradual decline of the Mozarabic Rite began about the middle of the eleventh century, being reduced to the use of only a few Chapels and Parishes by the beginning of the twentieth century. However, the chant of the Rite survived longest in common use, being commonly used in alternation with Gregorian Chant, most notably in the Cathedral of Toledo.

Despite such set-backs as the slaughter of the whole college of Chaplains of the Mozarabic Chapel at Toledo Cathedral by Republican forces during the Spanish Civil War, the Rite has survived and a commission by the Archbishop of Toledo led to the republication of the liturgical books towards the end of the twentieth century.