The Medieval Pilgrimage to Our Lady of Graces

Our Lady of Graces is a small ivory plaque that depicts the Madonna and Christ child of 14th century date. Standing at a mere 3 inches/ 7.5 cm in height  it is hard to imagine that  during the late medieval period it was the focus of  a very popular pilgrimage.

4.1A Our Lady of Graces encased in a silver shrine

Our Lady of Graces

The image  originally belonged to the Dominican priory of Youghal Co Cork. The priory of Youghal, was founded in the 13th century and  was rededicated to ‘Our Lady of Graces’ in the late 15th century, reflecting the fact  the image was the focus of very popular  Marian cult and pilgrimage.

 

There are a number of legends and folk traditions pertaining to the origin of Our Lady of Graces and its arrival in Youghal all of which are detailed in the book Wells, Graves, and Statues: Exploring the heritage and culture of pilgrimage in medieval and modern Cork city.

This small plaque was said to have performed many miracles, attracting a constant stream of pilgrims. Following the reformation the priory of Youghal was destroyed by Walter Raleigh in 1578. The plaque of Our Lady of Graces managed to survive perhaps due to its diminutive size which made it easy to conceal.

There are sporadic references to the image in the historical sources  suggesting it continued in the possession of the Dominicans, and was still venerated and received offerings from pilgrims in the ensuing years.  In the seventeenth century the image along with a chalice from the Youghal priory was brought to the nearest Dominican priory, in  Cork city.

Although Our Lady of Graces has been gone from Youghal for over 400 years, the image continues to have a connection with the town of Youghal and several modern artworks commemorate this link. The most impressive is a large stone statue depicting the image by famous Cork sculptor Seamus Murphy (1907-1975). This modern statue was erected in 1953 as part of a grotto of Our Lady of Graces, at South Abbey Street. It is carved from Portland stone and stands at over 1.5m in height dwarfing the minute original.

4.1B Seamus Murphy's statue in Yougal inspired by Our Lady of Graces

Seamus Murphy (1907-1975) statue of Our Lady of Graces was erected in 1953 as part of a grotto at South Abbey Street Youghal.

Today the  plaque of Our Lady of Graces  can be viewed at St Mary’s  church at the Dominican priory at Popes Quay in Cork City.

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Dominican Priory Popes Quay Cork City

To find out more about the history and miracles of the Plaque of Our Lady of Graces see

Wells, Graves, and Statues: Exploring the heritage and culture of pilgrimage in medieval and modern Cork city

available  in a number of places around  Cork City & County:

Sunday’s Well Post Office

Liam Ruiséal Bookshop Oliver Plunkett Street

Beneditus Bookshop North Main Street

Midelton Bookshop

For those of you  outside of Ireland  our book  can be purchased through amazon

Amazon.fr (€), Amazon.co.uk (£), or Amazon.com ($), and as an e-book on Kindle from Amazon.co.uk (£) or Amazon.com ($)

 

Launch of Wells, Graves and Statues

Any of you who follow me on twitter or Facebook  will know that Richard Scriven and I have  just finished writing  a book about pilgrimage  in Cork City called  Wells, Graves & Statues. Exploring the heritage and culture of pilgrimage in medieval and modern Cork City.

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Its  been a really exciting journey, over the course of  our research we discovered a rich and complex range of pilgrimage sites within the city some of which we had not heard of before.  The pilgrim sites of Cork  stretch from medieval time down to the present with the  latest edition a labyrinth garden in the grounds of St Fin Barre’s Cathedral opening in 2015.  There is also lots of variety in the site types  that  include a  medieval cathedral, holy wells, medieval statues and graves.

The books came back from the printers last week.  There was a lot of anticipation and excitement opening the boxes , how does the book look ? will people like it?  Thankfully Richard and I were very pleased with the results. We are very thankful to all who helped us along the way, those who provided information and access to sites, commented on drafts of the book  etc.,

Our book would not have been possible without the help of  Cork City Council and  who provided funding through Cork City Council’s Heritage Publication Grant Scheme 2015. We would also like to thank Niamh Twomey the Heritage Officer, of Cork Citywho  provided great support and advice throughout this project.

On Wednesday night  our new book – Wells, Graves and Statues – was launched by the Bishop, Dr Paul Colton, in St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork

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St Fin Barre’s Cathedral image courtesy of Abarta Audio Guides

I can’t thank enough everyone who took the time to join us, family,  friends, history and pilgrimage enthusiasts,  some of whom traveled  from outside the county to be here. Their presence made it a wonderful event,

As the oldest pilgrimage site in Cork, St Fin Barre’s Cathedral was the perfect place to launch our book and we both feel very privileged and honored to have been given permission to host our launch here.   We could have not found a more splendid setting and all who attended the launch took time to explore and admire the interior of this magnificent building.

The event kicked off  with a welcome was given by the Dean of Cork, the Very Reverend Nigel Dunne.

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The Very Reverend Nigel Dunne welcoming everyone to the launch.

The  book was then officially launched by Bishop Colton who gave a wonderful and entertaining speech.

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Bishop Colton launching our book Wells Statues and Graves photo Neil Jackman

Launching the book Bishop Colton said:

‘This is a very readable book which draws deeply on our strong sense of place, not least in Cork. It is a multi–layered, interdisciplinary book which draws on the expertise of these authors – Richard and Louise – in their respective fields of geography and history, and archaeology and Celtic civilisation. More than that, there are impulses of theology, spirituality and folklore. Above all else, the book touches on that deep–seated nerve of the human spiritual quest on our journey through life.’

Richard and I  then said a few words about the history of pilgrimage at the cathedral, and the significance of the book.  The night concluded with tea  and biscuits  giving us a chance to chat to those who attended and sign a few books.

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Richard and I presenting a copy of our book to Bishop Colton

I can not thank St Fin Barre’s Cathedral enough for making us feel so welcome and facilitating us on the night.

For any of you who missed the launch  our book is available  in a number of places around  Cork City & County:

Sunday’s Well Post Office

Liam Ruiséal Bookshop Oliver Plunkett Street

Beneditus Bookshop North Main Street

Midelton Bookshop

For those of you  outside of Ireland  our book  can be purchased through amazon

Amazon.fr (€), Amazon.co.uk (£), or Amazon.com ($), and as an e-book on Kindle from Amazon.co.uk (£) or Amazon.com ($)

 

Our website  Corkcitypilgrimage  will have regular updates relating to retailers and upcoming talks.

 

 

 

 

http://ireland.anglican.org/news/6046