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Celebrations mark Octocentennial anniversary of historic diocesan unification

Posted on: November 16, 2016 5:21 PM
The first Archbishop of the united dioceses of Dublin and Glendalough, now Saint Laurence O’Toole, depicted in a stained glass window in Dublin's Christ Church Cathedral.
Photo Credit: Andreas F. Borchert / Wikipedia

[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] The united dioceses of Dublin and Glendalough in the Church of Ireland are celebrating the 800th anniversary of their unification with a series of special events this week. Lectures and choral services are being held through the week, which will culminate in a special Diocesan Evensong service in the cathedral on Sunday. A “D&G800 Monks’ Tour” will take place over the next few months with all diocesan schools invited to the cathedral to take part in special workshops.

The early Irish church was primarily monastic and did not have modern-style dioceses. St Kevin founded a monastery in Glenn Dá Loch – the glen of the two lakes, now known as Glendalough – in the sixth century and over the centuries a diocesan structure developed around it.

The city of Dublin was founded by Vikings in the middle of the ninth century. In 1028, the first Christian king of Dublin, Sitriuc, visited Rome and gained authorisation for the establishment of a cathedral and diocese for Dublin. Initially, the new diocese and its bishops were separate from the Irish church, and came under the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

In 1152, Dublin was incorporated into the Irish Church and the see was elevated into to an archbishopric alongside the already established Armagh and Cashel. The two dioceses – Dublin and Glendalough – were unified under Archbishop Laurence O’Toole, a former abbot of Glendalough and later patron saint of Dublin – after the death of Bishop William Piro of Glendalough in 1214. The unification was confirmed by Pope Honorius III in 1216.

Last Sunday (13 November), the eve of the feast day of St Laurence O’Toole was marked with the world premiere of a new anthem, composed by David Bednall, and the first performance of two new hymns at an ecumenical evensong service in Christ Church Cathedral. The hymn texts were translated by Canon Dr John Bartlett from the 13th century.

As a sign of the “shared desire for Christian unity”, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, preached at last Sunday’s service; and the music was sung by the combined choirs of Christ Church Anglican Cathedral and St Mary’s Roman Catholic cathedral’s Palestrina Choir.

The Anglican Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Michael Jackson, will preside and preach at Sunday’s diocesan evensong which will be sung by members of parish choirs from across Dublin & Glendalough.