Sunday, February 05, 2012
This is the altar to St. Brigid in her church in Killester. It was designed to highlight St. Brigid's relic which was donated to the church in 1928 by the Cardinal of Lisbon. "The who?" I hear you ask, "what had it to do with him?".
Well it's a strange story. Brigid is supposed to have died in 525 AD and for security security reasons her remains were hidden in various places over the years. Most of the remains have been lost but in 1283 AD some Irish Knights took the head with them on their crusade to the Holy Land. The Knights fell to the Moors in Portugal, and the head eventually ended up in Lumiar, near Lisbon, where it is venerated to this day.
A fragment from the head was given to Killester church when it was built. It was kept in a reliquary on this side altar. The reliquary was modelled on St. Patrick's bell and was attached to the altar table.
The reliquary was stolen recently and this made national newspaper headlines. Fortunately the relic itself had been removed from the reliquary in preparation for a commemoration ceremony for St. Brigid's day which falls on the first of February.
The church has provided CCTV to the Garda in the hope it may help track down the thief. This theft follows that of a portion of the true cross from Holy Cross Abbey in Co. Tipperary. That relic has since been recovered. I wonder, however, at the wisdom of Killester's PP announcing that St. Brigid's reliquary is valued at about €10,000.
Be that as it may, forewarned is forearmed and it looks like lessons have been learned and applied to this other corner of the church, which normally houses a relic of St. Thérèse of Lisieux.
And, as you can see, the glass case is empty for the moment.
Update (Jan 2013): The Killester reliquary has now been recovered and is back in safe hands.