Thursday, June 07, 2012

When the Eucharistic Congress came to town

Preparations were in train in Dublin for the thirty-first Eucharistic Congress, held on 23 June 1932, for several months and the month of June became a period of retreat and prayer.
On the day, almost half a million people were present to witness Papal Legate Cardinal Lorenzo Lauri celebrate mass.
Contemporary estimates record the presence of high church dignitaries including nine cardinals, hundreds of bishops and other clerics representing forty-eight countries.
The newly elected Fianna Fail government under the formerly excommunicated Eamon de Valera went all out to show that the Irish Free State was a country in high standing with Rome.
During the High
Mass, the 1,500-year-old St Patrick’s Bell was used to mark the solemn moments. The bell was loaned for the occasion by the National Museum of Ireland. Scouts from the newly formed Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland acted as guards at the high altar in the park. The High Mass was followed by a procession to the centre of the city along the North Circular Road and down O’Connell Street, where, at an altar erected on O’Connell Bridge, solemn benediction was imparted by Cardinal Lauri.
The procession
to the bridge was some five miles long and was given colour by the hundreds of banners carried by participants who wore the special Congress badge struck for the occasion.
The main park gates at Parkgate Street were removed for ease of movement of crowds for the Eucharistic Congress.