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.
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.
‘ 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).
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.
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.