A Medieval Statue of the Trinity at Black Abbey Kilkenny

 Black Abbey in Kilkenny city is a  Dominican priory  founded c.1225 by William Marshall.  The church which still survives was dedicated to the Holy and Undivided Trinity. The abbey gets the name ‘Black Abbey’  from the black robes worn by the Dominicans, also known as the Blackfriars.

1177

The Dominican priory of ‘Black Abbey’ in Kilkenny.

The priory was located outside the medieval walled town of Kilkenny, within its own walled precinct. The entrance from the town into the precinct was via Black Freren Gate. This is the only  medieval gateway into the town to  survive today (pers comm Cóilín Ó’Drisceoil).
1179

Black Freren Gate, a medieval gate providing access to the medieval town of Kilkenny.

Much of the fabric of the medieval priory church  survives and today the building is  used as a parish church. This is a multi-period building, with a nave and south aisle of  thirteenth century date,  a number of the surviving windows date to the fourteenth century, while the crossing tower was erected in 1527.

014

The crossing tower at Black Abbey built in the year 1527.

 

Alterations were carried out to the building in the eighteenth century, when the choir was demolished and in the nineteenth century.
016

Window in Black Abbey.

 

Within the church is the most amazing medieval statue that depicts the Trinity
‘ representing God the Father, with God the Son on the cross between his knees, and the Holy Spirit above him, between the Father’s uplifted hands’ (Hunt & Harbison 1976,  318).
017-001

Medieval statue of the Trinity carved from alabaster.

The statue is made of finely carved alabaster and it is thought to date to the fifteenth century.
019-001

The Christ figure of Trinity statue at Black Abbey.

The  date 1264 is carved at the base of the cross  and Harbison and Hunt (1976, 318) suggest the date was inscribed on the base of the statue at a much later date probably sometime in the eighteenth century.

021-001

Date 1264 at the base of the medieval statue at Black Abbey

According to tradition the statue  was  found in a blocked-up niche in the south transept of the church  and came to light  during restoration work in the early nineteenth century. Today the statue  is on display within the church and is just one of many interesting features within the church.

References
Hunt, J. & Harbison, P. 1976. ‘Medieval English Alabasters in Ireland’, An Irish Quarterly Review, Vol. 65, No. 260,  310-321.
Roe H. M. 1972.  ‘A medieval alabaster figure, Black Abbey, Kilkenny’, Old Kilkenny Review, No. 24, 33-36.
Advertisements

5 comments on “A Medieval Statue of the Trinity at Black Abbey Kilkenny

  1. Kay says:

    Another very interesting post. Thank you.

  2. Tony Harpur says:

    A wonderful place! In my opinion the best native Irish depiction of the Holy Trinity follows this model in Kilkenny – it’s a tiny four centimeter figure in silver gilt on the crozier of Bishop Cornelius O’Dea of Limerick. This was made in 1418 by Thomas O’Carryd. The large window depicting the Holy Rosary is by Mayer of Munich and is not actually stained glass but is a much duller enameled glass window. When Archdeacon Hutch was building Holy Rosary Church in Midleton County Cork in 1894-1896 he corresponded with Mayer’s representatives about the window in Kilkenny. They suggested that he install the same design in stained glass in Midleton. Thus Midleton has the same Rosary Window dominating the church interior!

  3. Finola says:

    What an extraordinary statue. I don’t think I;ve ever seen another one like this. Have you?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s