Sunday, September 21, 2014

The 'New' Church on Inchagoill

Pilgrim at the threshold
The 'new' church on Inchagoill Island is this one, the Church of the Saints, built in the late 12th century nearly 600 years after St. Patrick's exile to the island. It's believed that this church was built by the Augustinian monks at Cong Abbey as a retreat center. At the time of its construction, nearly 3000 monks and scholars were living at the monastery in Cong; this church became their quiet refuge where individual monks or small groups could come to rest and pray in peace. It probably had a thatched roof.
Arched doorway & the 10 saints of Lough Corrib
Its beautiful arched doorway is Romanesque and decorated with carved heads of the 10 saints of Lough Corrib. The head on the far right is St. Brigit.
Byzantine crosses
These carvings on the wall inside the entry are thought to be Byzantine left by monks from the near East studying at the famous Cong Abbey. These Byzantine crosses may have inspired the Celtic cross that we know today.
Holy water font
On the other side of the doorway, this hollowed out stone served as the church's holy water font.
Across the eastern wall of the small church is the altar with stone creations which served as the lavabo for washing hands and the tabernacle which held the consecrated elements for the Eucharist.
Stone lavabo
Our group had some time to wander the island and soak up its beauty before we re-assembled for a picnic lunch by the lake shore. Some of us sat inside the ancient stone churches for some meditative time; others walked the perimeter of the island. I chose to spend my time in the woods exploring and sitting with the beautiful trees....
I was rewarded by this fellow's sweet song....

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