Re-opening and Rite of Dedication of St. Patrick’s Cathedral,

23 May 2003


23 MAY 2003

Issued by the Catholic Communications Office on behalf of the Archdiocese of Armagh



St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, will be re-opened with a rite of dedication on Sunday,
25 May at 3.00pm, after major restoration. The Cathedral has been closed for 17 months.
Dr Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of All-Ireland, will officiate at the

Present will be Mary McAleese, President of Ireland.

Also in attendance will be the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor,
the Archbishop of Dublin, Cardinal Desmond Connell, Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow,
and Archbishop Kelly of Liverpool. Cardinal Egan of New York whose Cathedral also bears
the patronage of St Patrick, will be represented by the Cathedral Rector, Mgr Eugene Clark.

The Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, and several Irish Bishops
will be present. Bishop Michael Jackson, Church of Ireland Bishop of Clogher, Dr John
Dunlop of the Presbyterian Church and Dr Edmund Mawhinney of the Methodist Church, will


A special message from Pope John Paul II on the occasion of the Dedication at the Cathedral
will be read out by the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Lazzarotto.

Major structural wear-and-tear to the Cathedral over the past one hundred and thirty years
demanded an immediate and determined response. The Cathedral has been re-roofed. Major
cleaning and restoration, internally of the mosaics and stained glass windows, and
externally of the stone, have taken place. The Stations of the Cross have been repaired.
New heating, electrical and public address systems have been installed. The sanctuary
has been reordered. The clock and 39 carillon bells have been repaired. Considerably
greater parking at the Cathedral has been made available. Ease of access for the disabled
has been a priority. The Synod Hall with its two large meeting rooms has been refurbished,
and has had a lift installed.

The total cost of the restoration has amounted to £6 Million (€9 Million). The Heritage
Lottery gave a grant of £1 Million (€1.4 Million).

A capital campaign has taken place in parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Armagh to
raise £7 Million (€10.5 M): (£5 M (€ 7.5 M) for the Cathedral; £1 M (€1.5 M) for the
development of lay ministries in the Archdiocese; £1 M (€1.5 M) for the needs of retired

To signal the completion of the restored Cathedral, the new external lighting and
floodlighting installed at the Cathedral will be switched on at 9.30pm on the eve of
the Dedication, Saturday 24 May, and the restored 39 carillon bells will be played.
The new lighting will illuminate the 210 foot spires which will be clearly visible
within a radius of several miles.

As part of the rite of dedication, relics will be deposited in the new altar of Pope
St Celestine I (422 – 432) who sent St Patrick to Ireland, of St Malachy, native of
Armagh City and former Archbishop of Armagh (1134 – 1137), and of St Oliver Plunkett,
martyred Archbishop of Armagh (1669 – 1681).

Central to the restoration of the Cathedral has been the re-ordering of the Sanctuary.
The new altar and ambo are of Tunisian limestone. The altar has been inspired by the
early-Irish crosses and has imagery of Christ (Crucified, Risen, Return in Glory),
flanked by Apostles, on three sides. The fourth side visible from the main body of
the Church shows Our Lord with four Irish saints: Patrick, Malachy, Brigid and Oliver

The new sanctuary floor is of Bologna porcelain from Italy. The marble steps and
surrounds are Spanish. A brass screen incorporating two pairs of gates from the
original sanctuary, has been erected at the back of the sanctuary. A brass screen
has also been erected at the Blessed Sacrament Chapel; the new bronze tabernacle,
flanked by two angels, is a representation of the arc of the covenant, while also
being inspired by the 9th Century Book of Armagh. An ambulatory allows people to
walk around the perimeter of the sanctuary. Seating has been installed at both the
Blessed Sacrament Chapel and the Marian Shrine to allow the visitor pause for private

Discreet state-of-the-art plasma screens on which live pictures will be transmitted
have been installed on columns in the side aisles and around the sanctuary. This
will greatly enhance the participation of the whole congregation, regardless of where
they may be seated. A new public address has been installed with a loop system for
the hard-of-hearing.

Archbishop Brady has said in a message to the priests and people of the Archdiocese:
“I thank you sincerely for your great commitment and dedication to the Faith and to
the Church in Armagh. It has truly been very edifying and satisfying for me to be
Archbishop at this momentous time. I am very eager that the restored Cathedral might
truly be for us all a clarion call to become a renewed people, a restored Church, a
rededicated community.”

An extract from the Archbishop’s homily in which he will broach some national issues
will be released later.

A history of the Cathedral can be accessed on the Archdiocese of Armagh website: (the virtual tour of the Cathedral has not been updated
since the restoration).

23 May 2003

Further details from:

Rev. Peter McAnenly, Diocesan Secretary
Tel: (028) 3752 2045 (code 048 from RoI)
Mobile: 07974 665242 (00 44 7974 665242 from RoI)

Click here for special feature on re-dedication of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh