Just a few weeks ago, my little family from Kentucky visited me in Dublin. I was so excited for them to come and see where I had been living. My mom, dad, and two little sisters made the six-hour flight, landed in Dublin and, after overcoming jetlag, they were ready to go exploring.
My mom loves history and one of her favorite things to do in the whole world is to explore old churches and cathedrals—needless to say, she was very excited to visit Christ Church Cathedral. After a great trip to the Cathedral, I wanted to find out a bit more about the Cathedral for myself. After a little research, I have come to find out that the Cathedral is much more than just the oldest Cathedral in Dublin. Christ Church holds lots of history.
The Cathedral was founded in 1028 by King Silkenbeard. At this time, the Cathedral overlooked the Viking settlement that would become contemporary Dublin. The Cathedral was built out of wood until, in the 1180s, Strongbow (who is buried in Christ Church!) spearheaded the campaign to rebuild the Cathedral in stone, which allowed the creation of the choir areas, the nave, the transept and the (very creepy) crypt. Now, the Cathedral is the seat for the Roman Catholic archbishops of Ireland and the Church of Ireland archbishops—there is an actual seat in the Cathedral called the “Cathedra” and this is what makes a cathedral a cathedral.
It is interesting to find a city with two Cathedrals—St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the larger of the two Cathedrals, sits just down the road from Christ Church. This situation has actually caused quite a bit of trouble. Where would the deceased bishops rest? Who would hold the Holy Cross? Where would be the official seat of the Dublin Diocese? Well, for the Roman Catholics, the recognition of Christ Church Cathedral as the “mother cathedral” results in Christ Church being acknowledged as the rightful seat of the Roman Catholic archbishopship.
Although this history is fascinating, the real experience comes with a visit to Christ Church. Floors and vaulted ceilings are awe-inspiring. While in Dublin, if you get the chance, be sure to visit!