Vestments made for Pope Francis’ mass in Dublin ‘like the Irish jersey’

Polish company won tender to make special vestments with celtic designs

 Fr Damian McNeice  holding a cross that will face Pope Francis on the altar at the mass he will celebrate at Dublin’s Phoenix Park. It dates  from  penal times. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Fr Damian McNeice holding a cross that will face Pope Francis on the altar at the mass he will celebrate at Dublin’s Phoenix Park. It dates from penal times. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

Vestments with celtic designs have been specially made by a Polish company for Pope Francis to wear when he visits Dublin and Knock later this month.

The Pope’s vestments for the mass in Phoenix Park feature the triple spiral, a pre-Christian Celtic symbol found on Neolithic monuments across the island.

“It’s the whole notion of the journey into the divine, and almost like eternal life too” said Father Damian McNeice, master of ceremonies for the event.

Noting the vestments for Sunday’s mass are coloured green, he said: “We’ve had a couple people say ‘oh, it’s a bit like the Irish jersey’”.

While the vestments for Pope John Paul II’s mass in 1979 were made by volunteers in Ireland, Pope Francis’ vestments were created by family-run Polish embroidery company Haftina which won the tender to make the garments.

The vestments aren’t the only aspect of the event where the Irish influence will be felt. The music for the mass will feature works in Irish and pieces by Irish composers such as Fintan O’Carroll, and a penal cross dating from 1763 will be placed in front of the pope as he says mass for around half a million people.

The cross has been kept in the care of the Carmelite Sisters in Dublin.

Fr McNeice drew comparisons between priests in penal times using this cross to say mass in fields and the pope using it to say mass in the Phoenix Park. The design of the large processional cross to be used for the mass was also based on the design of the 255 year old wooden cross.

“We do believe that we have something particular of our soul to offer” said Fr McNeice, discussing the Irish influences that will be seen at the World Meeting of Families.

The Liturgy Committee for the World Meeting of Families aren’t sure what the weather will be like for the mass, but they have made preparations in case of rain. Ponchos will be provided should the heavens open, and stewards will have umbrellas.

“It does provide a few difficulties in terms of distributing the Holy Communion” said Fr McNeice in relation to the possibility of rain, adding “that’s why we have lids on all the ciboria. They’re quite watertight just to protect the Eucharist”.

There are 4,000 ciboria, the containers traditionally used to hold communion, available for the mass, as well as 200 chalices. The ciboria and chalices were made by Dublin based company MMI, and will be sold off to different parishes around the country afterwards.