13 June 2023

Daily prayers in Ordinary Time
with USPG: (16) 13 June 2023

Holy Trinity Cathedral on Barronstrand Street, Waterford, was designed by John Roberts and is the oldest Roman Catholic Cathedral in Ireland (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

The First Sunday after Trinity was celebrated on Sunday (11 June 2023). Before this day begins, I am taking some time this morning for prayer, reading and reflection.

Over these weeks after Trinity Sunday, I am reflecting each morning in these ways:

1, Looking at relevant images or stained glass window in a church, chapel or cathedral I know;

2, the Gospel reading of the day in the Church of England lectionary;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

Inside Holy Trinity Cathedral in Waterford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Holy Trinity Cathedral, Waterford:

My photographs this morning are from the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity on Barronstrand Street, Waterford. This is one of the two cathedrals in the city designed by John Roberts (1714-1796), the great architect of Georgian Waterford, and is the oldest Roman Catholic cathedral in Ireland.

Both cathedrals are part of the Georgian glory of Waterford, and Holy Trinity Cathedral is an important landmark in the heart of the city.

A chapel had stood on the site of cathedral since 1700, built with permission of the city corporation at the height of the Penal Laws. But that chapel was hidden behind other buildings on the street, and was accessed from Conduit Lane through a long, narrow passage.

John Roberts had built Christ Church Cathedral, the new Anglican cathedral on the site of Waterford’s mediaeval Gothic cathedral, in 1773, and this was finally completed in 1792. A year later, in 1793, Roberts was invited to build a new Roman Catholic cathedral for the city on the site of the old Penal chapel and an adjoining plot of land on Barronstrand Street provided by the city corporation.

The cathedral was built in 1793-1796, making it Ireland’s oldest Roman Catholic cathedral. It was built while William Egan was Bishop of Waterford and Lismore (1775-1796) at a total cost of £20,000.

Roberts was over 80 when he designed this cathedral. He was a ‘hands-on’ architect and rose each morning at 6 am to superintend the work. But one morning he rose by mistake at 3 am, and when he arrived the cathedral was empty. He sat down in the still-unfinished cathedral, fell asleep, and caught the chill from which he died on 23 May 1796. He was buried in the French Church in Waterford.

The cathedral is a detached, six-bay double-height classical-style building. It is basically a rectangle with an apsidal east end. It was built originally on a T-shaped plan, with a six-bay, double-height nave and four-bay double-height side aisles to the north and south.

It was extended in 1829-1837, when the sanctuary was extended with the addition of a single-bay, double-height chancel at the east end.

When William Makepeace Thackeray visited the cathedral in 1840, he thought it was ‘a large, dingy … chapel of some pretensions’ that remained unfinished.

The cathedral was renovated in 1854, when a single-bay, double-height lower apse was added at the east end on a canted plan. There were plans at that time to erect the portico, but it was found the foundations stood on the bed of a reclaimed creek and could not bear the weight.

However, the cathedral was not completed until 1893, when a five-bay, two-storey Ionic frontispiece was added by William Henry Byrne (1844-1917) at the west end, with a three-bay two-storey pedimented breakfront. The moulded surround to the pediment has a figurative tympanum, with statues above, and a balustraded parapet with cut-stone coping.

The cathedral, completed a century after Roberts first began his work, was consecrated 130 years ago on 24 September 1893.

Inside, there are round-headed arcades in the side aisles, and the roof is supported by large Corinthian columns set in groups of four and leaning out of the perpendicular. The interior features of artistic importance include tiled floors, carved pine pews, stained glass windows (1885) by the Meyer Company of Munich, organ (1858), timber galleries and a vaulted roof.

The U-shaped, timber panelled gallery, with a bowed section at the choir gallery in the west, stands on fluted Ionic pine columns.

The marble High Altar by Joseph Farrell and the reredos date from 1881. The decorative baldacchino is supported by five Corinthian columns with gilt capitals, white marble shafts and square red marble bases. The high altar is partly obscured by the modern carved oak altar.

The bishop’s throne, the chapter and choir stalls, and the high pulpit are carved in Irish oak.

The organ, in a bow-fronted gallery above the west entrance, was built by William Hill & Sons in 1858 and was played for the first time by WT Best, the celebrated organist of Saint George’s Hall, Liverpool, at Solemn High Mass on Sunday 29 August 1858. Edward Comerford was the organist at Waterford Cathedral until he died in 1894. The organ was refurbished by Hills in 1910 and extensively altered in 1963-1964.

Patrick Comerford (1586-1652), the 17th century Roman Catholic Bishop of Waterford (1629-1652), who took advantage of the political climate during the Confederation of Kilkenny to take possession of Christ Church Cathedral, is named twice in tablets in Holy Trinity Cathedral.

On one plaque he is listed along with other distinguished theologians, priests and bishops from Waterford, including Peter Lombard, Archbishop of Armagh, James White, the Jesuits Michael Wadding, Peter Wadding and Ambrose Wadding, Thomas Walsh, Archbishop of Cashel, and the historian Geoffrey Keating.

A second plaque lists Patrick Comerford among the Bishops of Waterford, between Patrick Walsh and John Brenan, who accused Patrick Comerford of taking the cathedral vestments with him when left Waterford in 1650 after the Cromwellian siege of the city.

Bishop Patrick Comerford died at Nantes on 10 March 1652, aged 66, and was buried in Nantes Cathedral with full episcopal honours.

Holy Trinity Cathedral was refurbished in 1977 following the Second Vatican Council. A new altar was installed so that Mass could be celebrated facing the people. A gift of 10 crystal chandeliers from Waterford Crystal added to the beauty of the cathedral.

The cathedral was refloored and the sacristy was rebuilt in the early 1990s. Further work was completed in November 2006 with a re-fit of structure, the interior and exterior.

Railings once separated the church from the street, but these have since been removed, and there is a concrete brick cobbled forecourt in front of the cathedral today.

In a small, narrow churchyard on the south side of the cathedral, many of the former Bishops of Waterford and Lismore are buried, including Thomas Hussey who was bishop 1797-1803 and the first Roman Catholic bishop to live in Waterford since Patrick Comerford (1586-1652) left in 1651 after the Cromwellian siege of the city.

The square near Barronstrand Street, formerly known as Red Square, was re-named John Roberts Square in 2000 to honour his influence on the architecture of Waterford.

Inside, the cathedral roof is supported by large Corinthian columns set in groups of four and leaning out of the perpendicular (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Matthew 5: 13-16 (NRSVA):

[Jesus said:] 13 ‘You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.

14 ‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.’

The marble High Altar, reredos and baldacchino (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Today’s Prayer:

The theme this week in ‘Pray With the World Church,’ the Prayer Diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) is ‘Opening the World for Children through Learning.’ This theme was introduced on Sunday.

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (13 June 2023) invites us to pray:

We pray for all children who are currently forced into labour. For the situations that are leading to their forced involvement.

The Hills organ in the bow-fronted gallery above the west entrance (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)


O God,
the strength of all those who put their trust in you,
mercifully accept our prayers
and, because through the weakness of our mortal nature
we can do no good thing without you,
grant us the help of your grace,
that in the keeping of your commandments
we may please you both in will and deed;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Post Communion:

Eternal Father,
we thank you for nourishing us
with these heavenly gifts:
may our communion strengthen us in faith,
build us up in hope,
and make us grow in love;
for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Patrick Comerford listed among the distinguished theologians, priests and bishops from Waterford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

Patrick Comerford listed among the Bishops of Waterford and Lismore (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

The coat-of-arms of a Bishop of Waterford and Lismore above the west door of the cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

No comments: