St. Laserian’s Cathedral

By admin • April 29th, 2010

St. Laserian’s Cathedral

St. Laserian’s Trail covers the mid-Carlow area, featuring a number of sites of national significance including the medieval  Cathedral at Old Leighlin as well as the impressive Adelaide Memorial Church at Myshall. Enjoy discovering these ancient  sites, tucked away in green valleys or up high on open countryside surrounded by an expanse of sky. Perhaps a moment of  quiet contemplation will provide insights into the secrets and mysteries contained within.

St. Laserian, sometimes called Molaise, was the founder of the See of Leighlin and its first bishop. He was born about the year  566. He studied in Rome and was sent to preach the word of God in Ireland. In fulfillment of this mission, Laserian visited  many parts of Ireland including Leighlin.

St. Laserian’s Cathedral features architecture from every century since it was built.The stone interior of this beautifully preserved church is illuminated by large Gothic style windows and a magnificent stained glass window behind the altar. One of the glories of the cathedral is the intricate ribbed vault of the crossing tower. The beautifully carved sedilia reflect the cathedral status of this building. This is one of the few churches in Ireland that has four seats, rather than the usual three. It is suggested that the fourth seat was for the Bishop. Cathedrals normally provided a special chair for the bishop but Old Leighlin may have just provided a place on the sedilia.
There are two fonts in the church, both of which are older than the building. The earlier font consists of a massive piece of Kilkenny marble, hollowed with rough hand tools. The other font known as the Gowran font is more decorative.
There are some fine nineteenth-century pieces in the cathedral. The Bishop’s throne is richly
carved as is the timber lectern in the traditional form of an eagle. This lectern was made in memory of Thomas and Sophie Vigors.

The Vigors family of Burgage, Leighlinbridge were closely associated with the church and there are thirty two memorials to the family throughout the building. The east window designed by Catherine O’Brien, is a beautiful memorial, depicting Saints Moling, Bridget, Fiach, Canice, Patrick, John, Paul and Laserian.

Did You Know…

The date on which Easter is celebrated has always been a cause of difficulty and disagreement throughout Christian history. The main Latin churches throughout Western Europe used the Roman system of prediction. In the seven th century the less accurate Celtic system was in use in Ireland.

This caused unnecessary dissent and St. Laserian overcame the problem persuading the Irish Bishops gathered in the Synod of 630 to adopt the Roman system.

This was no mean feat given the Irish  church’s tradition of independence in thinking and practice but it greatly helped in unifying the church. This achievement was confirmed for the Western Church at the Synod of Whitby in 664 A.D

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