Dear Bishop Francis,
I am writing to send my blessing and good wishes to you, and to everyone in the Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois, on the very happy occasion of the reopening this weekend of Saint Mel’s Cathedral in Longford.
Just as we all shared your shock and sorrow on Christmas morning five years ago, when we learned of the destruction of Saint Mel’s by fire, so now the faithful of Ireland share your happiness and joy. We know that the terrible fire left behind it a trail of devastation and many priceless artefacts and devotional pieces were lost and can never be replaced. However, out of this tragedy, so much good has emerged – the way your community has come together to restore a worthy place for the worship of God; the way so many others, of all faith traditions and none, have rallied around you to offer their support, encouragement and resources to the effort.
I understand that my esteemed predecessor, Cardinal Cahal B Daly, who spent fifteen years among you as Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois, sent prayers from his deathbed to you all. I trust that today he rejoices from Heaven to see the Cathedral once more become a noble house of prayer for you all. I am reminded of that beautiful Latin chant: Locus iste a Deo factus est, inaestimabile sacramentum, irreprehensibilis est (This place was made by God, a priceless sacrament, it is without reproach).
Congratulations to you, Bishop Francis, to Bishop Colm, the Cathedral Project Committee and to all who were involved in the work. I look forward very much to joining you next May at the re-dedication of Saint Mel’s.
With God’s blessing to you all for Christmas and the New Year.
+ Eamon Martin
Archbishop of Armagh
Primate of All Ireland
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