Irish Pilgrimage to Notre Dame de Paris

15 Mar 2013

Irish Pilgrimage to Notre Dame de Paris
•    For the first time prayers in Irish will be used on the main altar in Notre Dame Cathedral

Ahead of Saint Patrick’s Day, part of the Mass celebrated in the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris will be prayed in the Irish language.  The pilgrimage Mass in Notre Dame de Paris will be the major event of this year for the Irish Chaplaincy in Paris and will mark both the Year of Faith and the Irish Presidency of the European Union in a significant way.

This Year of Faith is being marked in the city of Paris by a Jubilee of the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris, which is 850 years old this year. Different groups, parishes, communities and dioceses from France and from around the world will make a pilgrimage to this great icon of Western Christianity and of the city of lights. A temporary structure has been placed on the forecourt of the Cathedral with a great door of faith for pilgrims to cross as they enter the Cathedral. The names of the different saints to whom different churches, chapels and communities are dedicated are written on a giant wall alongside the pilgrim door of faith.

Among the different names, alongside the very French sounding Severin or Gervais, the name “Patrick” features proudly as a reminder that the Irish Church presence in Paris stretches back at least a millennium and even further. Irish monks came to study and teach in the medieval university. The Irish College was founded in 1578 by six young priests who took refuge in the city after being expelled from Flanders. The Chapelle Saint Patrick was part of the newly acquired and refurbished Collège des Irlandais on the brow of the Montagne Sainte Genevieve in 1769. Through Revolution and through world wars, there has been a worshipping presence of Irish people in Paris, a community poetically described as one of “soldiers, priests and scholars”.

When for the first time prayers are offered in Irish on the Main Altar of Notre Dame at noon on 16 March 2013, it will be a proud moment for that small but vibrant community. Pilgrims from Ireland will join the Irish people and their friends who worship in St Joseph’s Paris and in the Chapelle Saint Patrick each Sunday. The Kildare and Leighlin Choir, under Fr Liam Lawton, will fill the 850 year old space of the great Cathedral with Irish liturgical music. Bishop Noël Treanor, Bishop of Down and Connor, who is responsible for the Chaplaincy on behalf of the Irish Episcopal Conference, will preside at the Mass while Msgr Brendan Byrne, Administrator of Kildare and Leighlin will preach.

Pilgrims from Ireland will be very welcome on this historic occasion!

Notes to Editors:
•    Further details are available on the Irish Chaplaincy Paris website at

For media contact: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678