Monday, August 27, 2018

A Church in Ruins

From Philadelphia-

“The righteous cry, and the Lord hears them; and delivers them from all their troubles.”  (Ps. 34:17)
Pope Francis is almost assuredly not going to visit, while he is in Ireland, the ruins of Kilcorban Abbey in east Galway.  The abbey was established by Third Order Dominicans some time in the mid-fifteenth century.  It lies along the road that goes from Portumna to Tynagh, and is adjoined by more recent graves to the south of the ruins, and a pasture to the north where cows graze.

I have passed by the ruins many times on my way to the barn at Flowerhill, where I have been going for the past five years to ride horses in the lush green Irish countryside.  Often I have stopped at the ruins of the abbey (which is also sometimes called a friary, or a priory) on the way to barn.   The roof-less grey stone walls describe a rectangular church, running east to west.  On the north side of the church an archway leads into what is thought to have been a Lady Chapel, where an altar still stands.  Many times I have prayed in that half-ruined chapel: sometimes silently and alone, sometimes aloud with others, once explicitly to remember the dead, and more than once on a Sunday when it was my only place of worship.  I’ve stood at the altar and looked out and up at the emptiness around me, and the graves beyond.  I’ve looked, but never stepped down into the little stone well, outside by the road, which may have been a font, and which includes a little shrine to Mary.  I’ve never said Mass at that altar, although there’s nothing to stop me.  All I’d need is bread, wine, the Gospel, and one other person.

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