June 23rd, 1932

 

FROM THE ARCHIVES:The 1932 Eucharistic Congress was formally opened at an afternoon ceremony in the Pro-Cathedral before an invited congregation and was followed up later that evening with other ceremonies, culminating in midnight Mass in Dublin’s Catholic churches.

FROM SUNSET to dawn the main streets of Dublin have known no darkness; for the shades of night were driven out by the brilliant gleam of street-lamps and powerful floodlights, transforming night into day.

Fairy lights glinting all along the highways gave the rest of the city an aspect which it has never had before.

High up in the sky over the centre of the city a gigantic Cross of light rose from the spire of a church, symbolising the faith of the people. In dark turnings, which have housed exultant hearts during the last few weeks for the first time for years, the bright blue and white shrines stood out ethereally in the lights of the candles ranged around the figure of the Blessed Virgin, their flames bending before the pressure of a steady breeze.

Not only was it in the quarters of the poor that the lights of faith were burning; they were to be found in every street. Window after window bore its message in the shape of candles either real or of electric lamps fashioned in the manner of a candle.

When darkness had stolen across the heavens, long beams of light, rising in flashing sweeps from different parts of the city, swung across the sky, meeting and parting, falling behind roof-tops, then reappearing to commence their journey anew. Later came the flashing of religious tributes to the Eucharist on the sky, an exhibition of sky-writing which held the crowds enthralled in the early hours of the morning.

It would have been a perfect picture of peace but for the roar of traffic in the streets. Motor cars, tramcars and omnibuses blocked the thoroughfares, their horns and shrill blasts creating a babel of noise, over which could be heard at intervals the imperious clang of an ambulance bell . . .

Outside the churches people began to assemble at an early hour, awaiting the commencement of the three-hour Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament which preceded midnight Mass.

Ecclesiastics passed through the motley crowds, acknowledging the salutes of the people, and those from far-off lands paused occasionally to chat with somebody they had heard speak in their national tongue.

All classes and countries were represented. All had a look of pleasure, even of joy, on their faces as the midnight hour approached and they poured into churches.

The streets were almost empty by 12.30, only to fill again as the people emerged an hour or so later to crowd the tramcars and omnibuses . . . Shortly after midnight two thousands pilgrims knelt on the grass at Marino while an archbishop celebrated Mass at an open-air altar.

Fourteen hundred men are gathered under canvas in a field at Marino (Artane camp) which has been secured from the Free State Army authorities and over a thousand women are lodged in hostels in the vicinity.

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