On Wednesday, March 16, 2022 Bishop Paul Bird CSsR blessed and installed a statue of St Patrick in our diocesan Cathedral. The Evening Prayer was held on the Vigil of St Patrick’s Day. Fr Ed Moloney, Administrator of St Patrick’s Cathedral and Fr Abraham Thomas, were also present. During Masses in the Cathedral on March 17, acknowledgement of the installation and blessing of the statue was made by Fr Ed and Fr Abraham.
The statue was originally donated to St Patrick’s Church in Rokewood in 1959 as a gift from John Leemon and Agnes Doyle in memory of their parents and sister, Margaret Mary Leemon. Descendants of the donors of the statue that were able to attend, Kerry Doyle, John Doyle, Sharon Bradley, Sally Carey, Natalie Carey and Adele Maher, were welcomed to the ceremony by Bishop Paul.
This sculpture of St Patrick is a rare example of high quality polychromatic work. Made in Fitzroy by Mattei Brothers, the statue is of plaster, reinforced with iron rods. The iconography and symbols connected to St Patrick have often portrayed him as a bearded bishop with mitre, crozier and chasuble and holding the Bible. However, in this sculpture, St Patrick holds a church, a reference to his role in bringing Christianity to Ireland and building up the Church there during the 5th century. His chasuble is usually marked with a cross but in this case, the statue has been painted with images of the shamrock, a reference to the tradition that St Patrick used the three-leafed shamrock to explain the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. The inner lining of the chasuble he wears is in the characteristic green of Ireland. He is represented in this sculpture as standing on two snakes, an allusion to the tradition that St Patrick drove snakes out of Ireland.
During the ceremony Fr Ed proclaimed the Gospel and Bishop Paul delivered the homily (which can be read here). Bishop Paul prayed a “Prayer of Blessing” over the statue and processed to St Patrick, along with Fr Ed and Fr Abraham, for incensing of the statue. The statue has been placed in the north transept of the Cathedral accompanying the statues of Jesus of the Sacred Heart and St Mary MacKillop.
Representatives of the three parish primary schools participated in the ceremony: St Patrick’s Primary School: Julian & Ted Stephen and Mark Hogbin (Principal); St Thomas More Primary School: Therese Gately-Stack and Simon Duffy (Principal); and Siena Catholic Primary School: Holly Johnson & Eloise Murphy and Chris Kavanagh (Principal).
Leo Styles, Chair of the Cathedral Parish Council, led the procession with the cross.
Music was provided by members of the Cathedral parish, Rosemary Mecca, Deneise Walsh, Sheila Wilton, Susan Crowe, Pat Conroy, Mary Kelly, Peter Morris and Helen Lee (organist). Prayers of the Faithful were read by Anthea Stanton.
The St Vincent de Paul Cathedral Conference hosted hospitality in the Hall following the Evening Prayer.
Those that assisted with the installation of the statue in the Cathedral are Anthony, Paul and Daniel Van Styn and Jim Houlihan (hidden from view in the photo).
Information on the origin of the statue provided by Dr Samantha Fabry, Diocesan Archivist.
The Evening Prayer booklet can be viewed here.
The invitation can be viewed here.