Sunday, June 23, 2013

A Visit to St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast

Walking, walking talking, talking, pointing, looking, photographing ---our day in Belfast continued!

St Anne’s Cathedral was a great spot to slow down, take a breather, rest our legs and admire beauty beyond description.

From BelfastCathedral.org:

The foundation stone was laid in the closing months of the nineteenth century on 6th  Sept 1899.

The decision to build the Nave (i.e. the main body of the Cathedral without the East End) first was a significant departure from normal procedure.

The construction of nearly all the great Cathedrals, ancient and modern, was begun at the East End, which has special significance as it contains the Altar. However the first priority was to create a large space and be able to accommodate as large a congregation as possible.

Another unusual feature was the method adopted by which the outer walls of the Cathedral's Nave were built, stone by stone around the old St Anne's Church whilst worship continued for another four years, right up to the 31st December, 1903.

Only six months later, the Nave of the new Cathedral was consecrated. However two devastating world wars and more than fifty years would elapse before completion of the Eastern Apse and Ambulatory.
From DiscoverNorthernIreland.com:

Consecrated in 1904, the Cathedral held a memorial service shortly after the tragic sinking of the Titanic which was attended by several members of Thomas Andrew's family.
The Cathedral contains mosaics designed by Sir Charles Nicholson and executed by Gertrude and Margaret Martin. It has the largest Celtic Cross in Ireland, and mosaics and stained glass on Celtic themes.
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Instead of the usual prayer candle arrangement, I loved the candle tree.

I have long-ago roots in Northern Ireland.  Names and dates and places have been lost.  I lit a candle in honor of those who came before me, standing in the country where they lived.  I wish I knew more about them ---We are extended family, like the branches of the candle tree.

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Of course, geometric designs in marble floors bring quilts and patchwork to mind.

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Doesn’t this make you smile?

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Broken Dishes – I know you are thinking it!

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The tile work around the baptistery was unbelievable.

And after my visit to Connemara Marble in Galway – I can appreciate the 3 different kinds of marble in the base of the baptistery, the black, the green and the red!

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I love the use of circular symbols.

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But don’t be so enchanted by the floors that you forget to look UP!


Photo and historical info found HERE.

Between 1928-1932 Gertrude and Margaret Martin worked in Belfast Cathedral to produce the Creation mosaic in the Baptistery (1928); the tympanum above the west door erected in memory of St Anne’s choir men killed in the First World War (1929);
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the seraphim ceiling of the Chapel of the Holy Spirit (1932); the St Patrick mosaic above the entrance to the Chapel of the Holy Spirit (1932); and, presumably, the tympana above the north and south doors.
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Baptistery Dome Mosaic
 The dome of the baptistery shows the hand of God blessing His creation which is represented by the four classical elements, water, earth, air and fire.

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Little bit of scaffold work here for restoration..but this wall is all mosaic tiles!

The part we couldn't see, sheilded by scaffolding:
 In the Patrick mosaic the saint stands in the centre of the upper section dressed as a bishop and holding a shamrock. Tradition says he used the three-leaved shamrock to illustrate the doctrine of the Trinity: three persons/one God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The woman on the left, blindfolded and manacled, represents pagan Ireland; stones and thistles dot the landscape and the sky is dark. The ribbon she holds says “Out of the deep have I called unto thee”. The other woman, free and standing in a brightly lit scene, is Christian Ireland, illuminated by the light of the Gospel. Her ribbon says “My eyes have seen thy salvation”.
The part we COULD see:
Underneath, Patrick is shown standing in the prow of his ship as it passes the Mourne Mountains—he landed in county Down. A new day—Christianity—is dawning.

The shield/flag at Patrick’s feet, oddly, depicts the cross of St Andrew.

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Gorgeous stained glass!

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Side Aisle

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A beautiful funeral pall commemorating those who lost their lives in the sinking of the Titanic hangs prominently along one wall. Nearly 4 meters by 2.5 meters in indigo, it represents the midnight sea, with crosses of different sizes and designs apparently sinking into it (as well as some stars of David recognizing that there were Jewish people who lost their lives in the tragedy).

The pall was created by Helen O'Hare and Wilma Kirkpatrick, textile artists based at the University of Ulster.

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This work of art really took our breath away.

It creates a very reverent space.

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Crosses, stars and crescents for each life lost.

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This was really such a special place, but what caught our attention MORE than the architecture, mosaics and the floors ---were the KNEELERS!

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More info found HERE.

The kneelers here and throughout the building are the work of the Tapestry Guild. On the oecumenical front, Belfast Cathedral and St Peter’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, formed The Cathedral Partnership in 1998.
Clergy from all the Christian denominations are regular participants in Cathedral services.
Much more detail on the kneelers and the ladies who produced this outstandingly detailed and unique needlework over a period of 60 years, can be found here
Of course we had to take photos of them all!  As many different designs as we could find!  And since this post is getting way long, I’ve uploaded all of my photos of kneelers as well as the other cathedral photos to a photo album slide show.  Click the image below to be taken directly to the album if you can’t view the slide show on your mobile device.
St Anne’s Cathedral was such a wonderful highlight of an amazing journey.
St Anne's Cathedral, Belfast 2013

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  1. Words fail me. How gorgeous. Love all the kneelers. Thanksfor sharing.

  2. It's all so beautiful. Thank you very much Bonnie for sharing all this with those of us who couldn't make the trip. It really means a lot!

  3. I have thoroughly enjoyed all your pictures of your trip. Its almost as good as being there.
    Were the kneelers woven or needlepoint?

  4. All the beauty, from the mosaics to the funeral pall to the kneelers created by the hands of creative women. Such a beautiful tribute to faith.


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