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Irish Celebrate Historic Pilgrimage

In this Year of Faith and on the 850th Anniversary Jubilee Year of Notre Dame de Paris, parishes and communities are making special pilgrimage to the cathedral. On March 16, 2013 Irish pilgrims from Paris, the rest of France, and from Ireland had their own gathering for a very special and unique occasion: Mass in Irish celebrated on the high altar.

With green light coming from the vault high up in this historic place of pilgrimage, Mass began at 12 noon in Notre Dame de Paris with a solemn procession in front of more than 1,000 Irish people and friends of Ireland, led by the solemn carrying of the Irish Tricolour along the nave of the cathedral.

Mgr Patrick Jacquin, Rector of Notre Dame de Paris, welcomed the Irish who filled up the entire nave of this magnificent place of worship. He said that the Mass was not only intended to mark Ireland’s presidency of the European Union and St Patrick’s Day, but also the 850th anniversary of the cathedral.

Bishop Noel Treanor, on behalf of the Irish bishops, was the chief celebrant while Mgr Brendan Byrne, Administrator of Kildare & Leighlin, gave the homily. Among the concelebrants were Fr Sean Maher, Irish Chaplain to Collège des Irlandais; Frs Aidan Troy and Melvin Shorter from St Joseph’s English Speaking Church in Paris; Curé Denis Jachiet of the Saint-Séverin parish in the Latin Quarter; and Fr Tommy O’Connor of the Meath diocese who is a member of the Fondation Irlandaise. The prayers and readings were said in three languages: Irish, English and French.

During his homily Mgr Byrne spoke about how Irish people had been on pilgrimage to Europe right back to St Patrick himself, who studied in Auxerre and was ordained bishop by St Germanus. Throughout the centuries Irish priests, bishops, soldiers, scholars and the laity have made a major contribution to the history, culture and Christian faith of France and Ireland.

Music and singing was provided by the Kildare & Leighlin Choir directed by Fr Liam Lawton and the choir of Chapelle Saint Patrick. Mass began with the prelude Tar Anuas and then Faithful is the Lord. Prayers of the Mass came from Aifreann Mhuire na nGael, Glendalough Mass (by Fr Lawton) with hymns including Ag Criost an Síol (O Riada), the Deer’s Cry (Davey) sung by Lena Hennessy, and ending with Hail Glorious St Patrick. The music was provided by the organist Marion Gaynor from Carlow together with other instrumentalists. As Mass concluded shamrock was blessed by Bishop Treanor and distributed to the more than 1,000 Irish pilgrims.

The Irish Pilgrimage Mass was also notable by the presence of the Attorney General, Máire Whelan, who represented the Irish Government and the Irish Ambassador to France, Paul Kavanagh. They each said a reading; one in Irish and the other in French.

Together with the state visit in February by the Irish President Michael D. Higgins, these two historic events illustrate the existing interlocking bonds between our two great nations that can only strengthen into the future!

On the Irish Chaplaincy Paris website you can read and view the following:

We would welcome your experiences and comments relating to our historic celebrations during the weekend of March 16 – 18, 2013. You can either write them on the form in Contact Us or you can send an email to info@irishchaplaincyparis.fr