History Podcasts

St. Kevin's Church, Glendalough

St. Kevin's Church, Glendalough

St. Kevin’s Parish Church

The Hermitage Centre is situated on the grounds of St. Kevin’s Parish Church and shares some common space with the parish including a beautiful Meditation Garden.

Although it is now an independent entity, the Centre continues to have very close links with St. Kevin’s Parish. We collaborate closely and support each other in many areas of common interest.

Mass is celebrated daily in the Church. For further information on St. Kevin’s Parish and church activities, visit www.dublindiocese.ie/parish/glendalough/.

Saint Kevin of Glendalough

Saint Kevin (Coemgen) was born in Leinster in the early decades of the sixth century, the age of Saints Columba (June 9), Columbanus of Luxeuil (November 21), Comgall of Bangor (May 10), Finnian of Clonard (December 12), Kieran of Clonmacnoise (September 9), and many other great saints.

This holy ascetic belonged to a noble family which had included several Kings of Leinster. He himself, however, was a model of humility and self-denial. There are several miraculous stories connected with his birth and childhood, but most are unreliable.

The holy youth was baptized by a priest named Cronan and was named Kevin, which means "fair-begotten." There are so many saints named Cronan that it is not clear which one baptized Saint Kevin. When he was seven years old, his parents sent him to be taught by Saint Petroc (June 4), who happened to be visiting Ireland at the time.

As a boy of twelve, Saint Kevin was placed in the charge of three holy Elders: Eogoin of Ardstraw (August 23), Lochan, and Enna. Little is known of these teachers or where their establishment was located. His secular studies were certainly enhanced by spiritual instruction. He learned to read the Holy Scriptures, and to profit from the example of the virtuous men and women of the Old and New Testaments.

Saint Kevin was so handsome that a young girl named Kathleen became inflamed with desire for him, but the holy youth resisted all her allurements. She pestered him so much with her attentions that he fled from her, just as Joseph fled from Potiphar's wife (Genesis 39:12). Kathleen followed him and found him alone in a field, so she approached him and threw her arms around him. Arming himself with the Sign of the Cross, and filled with the Holy Spirit, Saint Kevin broke away from her and ran into the woods. She soon discovered him hiding in a bed of nettles. Grabbing a bunch of nettles, the saint struck her about the face, hands and feet. Wounded by the nettles, the girl's passion quickly cooled. She fell on her knees in repentance, begged forgiveness from God and from Saint Kevin, and promised to become a nun.

After successfully resisting the temptations of the flesh, Saint Kevin continued to devote himself to his studies, and longed to live the monastic life as a hermit. This was a common practice in the Celtic Church, which was influenced by the lives of the Egyptian desert dwellers, and by monks who had come from Gaul. Saint Kevin was anxious to leave the monastery, but his three Elders would not let him go. However, he had acquired a reputation for holiness, and people from the surrounding area came to seek his advice. Desiring to flee from such unwelcome attention, he left the monastery in secret and went into the wilderness.

It is said that an angel led him to Glendalough (the Vale of the Two Lakes) where he lived in the hollow of a tree somewhere by the shores of the Upper Lake. The ascetic remained in this place for several days, living on wild herbs and water. A cow wandered off and came to the tree where the Saint was living, and began to lick his clothing. After some time had passed, the cow showed an unusual increase in its milk, so her owner told his herdsman follow the animal. She led him to Glendalough, and there the herdsman discovered Saint Kevin, weak with hunger, and hiding in the tree.

The herdsman had to remove Saint Kevin on a litter by force, since the holy ascetic did not wish to leave. As he was being carried off, the trees bent down to make way for them. Saint Kevin then bestowed his blessing on the forest.

News of Saint Kevin reached his three Elders, who came to bring him back to their monastery. Recognizing the holiness of his life, they understood that they had nothing more to teach him, so they blessed him to leave the monastery.

A certain Bishop Lugidus ordained Sain Kevin to the priesthood, and sent him and a few other monks to found a new church. He spent a little time converting people at Cluainduach, but later moved back to Glendalough.

Guided by an angel, Saint Kevin crossed the Wicklow Mountains and established a monastery in the lower part of the valley where two rivers flow together. Once the monastery was organized, he appointed one of the monks as abbot, and then he retired to the upper valley a mile away to resume his life of solitude. He built a small dwelling on a narrow place between the mountain and the lake, where there were dense woods and clear rivulets. Some sources say that Saint Kevin lived there for four years, while others say seven years.

During this period of his life, wild animals would come to drink water out of his hands. Once during Lent, Saint Kevin stood praying in his hut with his hand sticking out of the window. Just then a blackbird nested in his hand and laid an egg. So gentle and compassionate was the Saint that he remained in this position until the eggs hatched and the fledglings were able to fly away.

There is a small cave above the Upper Lake known as Saint Kevin's Bed. One year he retired there for Lent, and an angel came and told him he would have to move because a rock was about to fall on that spot. Saint Kevin told the angel he could not interrupt his Lenten struggles or leave that place. On the eve of Pascha the angel returned to take him away. The venerable one protested that he would like to remain there for the rest of his life. He was persuaded to go, however, by the angel's promise that great benefits would follow for all who would come there in the future, both to live in the monastic city and to be buried there. Just as he was leaving with the angel, the rock came tumbling down and landed on the very spot where he had been standing.

Crossing over the lake, they discussed the problem of finding sufficient space for so many people. The angel said that if Saint Kevin wished, God could transform the four mountains surrounding the valley to level fields, fruitful and easy to work. The holy ascetic replied that he would not want God's creatures to perish on his account. All of the animals of those mountains were tame and humble toward him, and they would be saddened by this proposal.

When they arrived at the chosen spot, Saint Kevin saw that the ground was rocky and unsuitable for burial. The angel fixed that by clearing all the stones away. The site is to the east of the smaller (Lower) lake. Saint Kevin told the local chieftain Dimma and his sons to cut away the thorns and thistles, and to make this a beautiful spot. It is not certain just where in the valley Saint Kevin fell asleep in the Lord. It was not at the hermitage, however, because he sent a party of monks there to pray for him. Local tradition says that Saint Kevin is buried in the church of the Mother of God in that vicinity.

Saint Kevin was succeeded as abbot by his nephew Molibba (Jan. 8), who seems to have been the first bishop there. According to the Annals of Ulster, the holy abbot and confessor Kevin departed to Christ on June 3, 618.

St. Kevin’s Kitchen, Glendalough

It is a sunny spring morning, perfect for a trip to Glendalough, an ancient “monastic city” set in a surround of Wicklow Mountains National Park, about an hour south of Dublin. Our local guide keeps us alert on the bus ride, pointing out the flora and fauna–the beauty of the yellow gorse which in other non-flowering seasons gets pelted with words such as weed, invasive, and noxious, the blossoming white thorn hedges, shades of green in the long vistas. As we zoom past farms and real estate signs, she chats about the state of the nation in this time of recession. “People cannot sell their properties their mortgages are worth more than their houses. There is no longer a construction industry.”

We speed along the narrow roads. The jerk of the brakes make us appreciate our regular bus driver so much more. The price of gasoline as we flash by is twenty cents a litre higher than England or Scotland. But then again, these are Euros, not pounds. So what does it all mean?

“I bet everyone you meet has told you we are in a recession?” another guide had queried us.

“Yes, a recession,” we answer back obediently.

“Don’t believe them,” he asserted. “Don’t believe them. We are not in a recession. We are broke. Our three main industries,” the guide continues, “are agriculture, horse-breeding, and tourism. You might add to that,” she says, “the export of our young people who are snapped up by recruiters around the globe because they are reputed to be the best-educated youth in Europe.”

Indeed, education is part of the story of Glendalough, our destination. It was in places like this that learning was preserved on the westernmost edge of Europe during those dark centuries between the Roman Empire and the Renaissance.

“The Romans never did make it over to Ireland,” the guide informs us. “Pity”, she suggests. “Pity. They might have improved the roads.”

But the Roman church had crossed the choppy waters of the Irish Sea. Representatives had been dispatched from Rome in the 400s and the escaped slave Patrick had returned as a missionary in that same century. Glendalough was established in the early 500s by Coemgen (Caoimhin), St. Kevin. His Gaelic name means “fair-begotten.” Does it refer to his royal Irish birth or to his good looks? As a child, Kevin was tutored by Petroc of Cornwall, a Welsh-born Irish-educated saint. Kevin lived and studied with the monks and was eventually ordained himself.

Recession would not have daunted Kevin. He chose the life of an ascetic, moving to this glacial valley as a hermit, sleeping in a rock cave, on a flagstone bed, wearing the skins of animal friends, walking barefoot sole to ground, seclusion shielding him. Yet the world knew where to find him. It is said that witches bent on destruction he transformed to stone, and that a woman who tried to seduce him ended up in the lake. Responding to the demands pressed upon him, Glendalough became a seminary and Kevin fed his disciples with salmon fished for him by a benevolent otter. His hermitage had become a place of pilgrimage, a destination.

What compels me to forgo another day in Dublin for this side trip into the country? Being neither Irish nor Catholic nor even very religious, what can explain my interest in, my attraction to, this site? I have been to one of these ancient monasteries before–to Clonmacnoise on the River Shannon. Is it nostalgia, for that much earlier life-changing visit? It was from the friend who guided me to Clonmacnoise that I learned how to pronounce Glendalough. Glen da lock (loch). Not loo it does not rhyme with slough, as I had incorrectly assumed that first time. Glenn da locha, the valley of the two lakes. The two communities were connected in the sixth century, by the friendship of Ceiran and Kevin. Both locations feature thirty-metre-tall round towers, thought to have been used like beacons, for navigating, as bell towers to signal distress, as safe storage for valuables such as psalters and illuminated manuscripts, and as places of refuge during times of attack. The monasteries include hermit cells, probably the only constructs that either saint actually touched. St. Kevin’s is a cave above the lake. The chapel, St. Kevin’s Kitchen, the rest of the existing ruins, date from between the ninth and twelfth centuries.

Both monasteries contain a collection of ruined buildings with designations such as cathedral, church, chapel, along with a profusion of Celtic crosses and gravestones. Here those who found a community while living are surrounded still in a community of the dead. Both sites have high crosses–the Cross of the Scriptures at Clonmacnoise and St. Kevin’s Cross at Glendalough, and evidently, a second high cross, the Market Cross, in the visitor centre.

Perhaps what propels me to Glendalough can be attributed to the romance of ruins. Or is it the literal tug of history, of grey moss-munched stones informed by human hands? Or to the way we make meaning from metaphor. In this human habitation which has been here more than 1500 years is an image of transience. Our days, the days of our civilizations, are measured, brief. What comes from the earth returns to the earth, and the earth remains. Or perhaps it is remnants of my personal New Age past whose spirituality and sense of the sacred still infuse my daily breath? Or is it simply trusting in the wisdom of the ancients who felt and responded to the pull of place, to the power of those forces which make some locations special? Because what St. Kevin built here, his refuge, nature altered by human hands, is not so much separated from contact with the world as it is connected to creation, its communicants living in peace, living in beauty.

Just outside the double-arched gateway is a midway of tents and caravans. Linen tea towels, woolen “jumpers,” potato scones, postcards. Today the market of souvenir and food vendors does not even make me think of the temple and the moneylenders. After all, everyone has to eat, and it is a recession, and loaves and fishes no longer magically appear.

Irish poet Seamus Heaney in “St. Kevin and the Blackbirds,” retells the tale of how a blackbird nested in the saint’s upturned palm, on his outstretched arm, as he prayed, here, and how Kevin stayed immobile “until the young are hatched and fledged and flown.”

And since the whole thing’s imagined anyhow,” Heaney goes on, “Imagine being Kevin. . . . Does he still feel his knees? Or has the shut-eyed blank of underearth crept up through him? ‘To labour and not to seek reward,’ he prays, // A prayer his body makes entirely / For he has forgotten self . . .”

It isn’t until I get home to my computer, upload my photographs, and zoom in, that I see the blackbirds in the green.

Glendalough, Co. Wicklow, Ireland

Glendalough is home to one of the most important monastic sites in Ireland. This early Christian monastic settlement was founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century and from this developed the ‘Monastic City’.

The ‘City’ consists of a number of monastic remains, and the most impressive being the Round Tower which stands 30m high. The main group of monastic buildings lies downstream near the Round Tower. The grounds were entered through the Gateway, which has two round headed granite arches.

Beyond St. Mary’s Church is the Priest’s House, a 12th Century building in Romanesque style, with an interesting carving of a much earlier date on the lintel of the doorway.

Just beyond the Priest’s House is a large granite cross (sixth or seventh century) and the “Cathedral”, the largest church on the site, with a nave, chancel and sacristy (11th and 12th C), and St Kevin’s Church.

St Kevin’s Church is commonly known as St Kevin’s Kitchen. This is a barrel-vaulted oratory of hard mica schist with a steeply pitched roof and a round tower belfry (12th C).

Approx 200m east of the Church of the Rock is a cavity in the cliff which is known as St Kevin’s Bed or Hermitage.

At the Glendalough site on the road to Laragh, to the right, stands Trinity Church (11th-12th C). Beyond the river about 1.5km to the east of the Cathedral is St. Saviour’s Priory a church with fine Romanesque carvings on the chancel arch and windows.

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St. Kevin’s Clergy

Mass Schedule

St. Kevin
Saturday at 4 p.m.
Sunday at 8 & 10 a.m., noon
Mon–Fri at 7:45 a.m.

Current Bulletin

Office Hours

St. Kevin
Mon-Fri: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Sun: 9 a.m. to noon
St. Benedict
Wed: 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

St. Kevin Roman Catholic Church
333 Sandy Lane Warwick, Rhode Island 02889 | Tel: (401) 737-2638 | Fax: (401) 732-2832
Staff & Clergy photo credits Bob Fontaine Photography

Glendalough after Saint Kevin

Upper Lake, Glendalough, Wicklow Photo: Rob Hurson
The Irish Spirit – Issue No. 9
Exclusive Excerpt from Glendalough: History, Monuments & Legends by George McClafferty

There is a tradition that following the death of Kevin, the monastery was taken over by his nephew Molibba, who, it is said, became the second abbot and first Bishop of Glendalough. However, there is no historical evidence to support this tradition and it may have been a later fabrication to show the continuation of the Dál Messin Corb, the alleged ancestral lineage of the founder saint.

Little is known of Glendalough during the 7th century and existing records do not clearly indicate to which septs or families the earlier abbots and bishops belonged. Ecclesiastical settlements were often founded on lands donated by ruling families from whose ranks came the abbots and their successors. It is possible that the local sept was the Dál Messin Corb and that they held the abbacy of Glendalough during the 7th century. There are a few references in the Annals to the deaths of ecclesiastics at Glendalough during the late 7th century but little else is known of the settlement.

The abbacy of Glendalough certainly seems to have been controlled by the Uí Máil (from whom the Glen of Imaal takes its name) during the 8th century. The ecclesiastical settlement was destroyed by fire in 775 but it is not clear whether the fire was accidental or the result of a hostile attack. The importance of Glendalough as a place of pilgrimage is evident from the references in the Annals to the deaths of a number of important people there. In the year 790, the bones of St Kevin were disinterred and enshrined at the site.

According to the Latin ‘Life’ of St Kevin, seven visits to Glendalough carried the same benefit as one pilgrimage to Rome.

At around the turn of the 9th century, the dynasty of Uí Dúnlainge became the dominant influence at Glendalough. There are many references in the Annals to the deaths of abbots during this period which indicate that the monastery was very important and wealthy. An entry in the Martyrology of Oengus describes Glendalough as follows:

The fortress of Eamhain Macha has vanished

Except that its stones remain

The monastic city of the western world

Is Glendalough of the assemblies.

The relative peace of the Irish ecclesiastical settlements was shattered with the arrival of the Vikings and Glendalough was plundered by them in 833. They returned and burned a church just two years later. The next fifty years seems to have been fairly peaceful but the Vikings returned in 886 and plundered the site once again.

During the 10th century, the ecclesiastical settlement seems to have been under the control of septs from West Leinster. Most of the stone buildings which survive today date from between this period and the 12th century, as the earlier ecclesiastical structures which were built of perishable materials were gradually replaced by stone edifices. It was during this period that the monastic school was at its height and attracted students from all over Britain, as well as some from other parts of Europe.

Archaeological excavation of contemporary settlements has shown that corn was the main crop while cattle, sheep, pigs and goats were kept. Vegetables and herbs were grown, beehives provided honey and the local rivers and lakes supplied fish. The diet varied from place to place, depending on the wealth and location of the settlement while fasting at certain times was a feature of all ecclesiastical settlements. Both the domestic and farm buildings were built of perishable materials which were easily burnt and needed frequent replacement.

The Uí Muiredaig sept became the dominant influence at Glendalough during the late 10th century and remained there for most of the period up to the middle of the 13th century when record of the abbacy ends. In 1017, 1020 and again in 1061, the settlement was destroyed by fire. These fires were probably accidental but destructive enough to have been recorded in the Annals. In 1043, the site was attacked by a rival sept and sixty inhabitants of the ecclesiastical settlement were slaughtered.

The O’Toole family, a branch of the Uí Muiredaig, succeeded to the abbacy of Glendalough in 1106 when Gilla Comgaill filled the vacant position. At the Synod of Raith Bresail in 1111, the bishopric of Glendalough was reconstituted as a territorial diocese which covered most of modern county Wicklow as well as parts of Kildare and Dublin. Gilla Comgaill’s grandson Laurence (Lorcán), who was born about the year 1128, became the second saint associated with Glendalough. As a child, St Laurence O’Toole, lived as a hostage of Dermot MacMurrough, King of Leinster, at Ferns in county Wexford. As a hostage, he was harshly treated and following protests from his father, he was given into the care of the Bishop of Glendalough. Soon, he became attracted to the monastic way of life and he relinquished all claims to the family inheritance. In 1153, he was chosen as Abbot of Glendalough but we are told that he declined the honour of bishop.

Laurence continued as Abbot for the following nine years and much of the 12th century building at Glendalough is attributed to him. Laurence was appointed Archbishop of Dublin in 1162 but frequently returned to Glendalough to spend the season of Lent in the cave known as St Kevin’s Bed. As Archbishop of Dublin, Laurence negotiated between Strongbow and the citizens of Dublin during the siege of 1171. He also helped to negotiate the Treaty of Windsor between Rory O’Connor and Henry II of England in 1175. In 1176, Glendalough was plundered by Anglo-Norman adventurers and in the following year an astonishing flood ran through the settlement taking with it a bridge and mills and leaving fish in the midst of the site.

Laurence was apparently popular among all his flock – Irish, Norman and Scandinavian. In 1180, he travelled to Normandy in France to seek a meeting with Henry II but was taken ill and died in the house of the Canons Regular of St Augustine, at Eu, on November 14th. His remains lie buried at Eu but his heart, enclosed in a casket, is supposedly preserved at Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin. Laurence was canonised in 1225.

During the 14th century, the settlement went into decline and lost much of its former glory but it seems to have still been important enough in 1398 for the Annals to record its destruction that summer by the English. The diocese of Glendalough was re-established by the Pope, about 1450, with bishops acceptable to the local inhabitants. The last of these bishops, one Denis White, a Dominican friar, surrendered to the Archbishop of Dublin in 1497. Abbots continued to be appointed up until the general supression of the monasteries under Henry VIII.

A Story of St Kevin (Glendalough Folklore)

When in Ireland, I was on a tour with EF College Break and had so much fun. One of best things of being on a tour is learning about the history of the country, and hearing some stories and legends as well. On the ride to Glendalough, our tour leader Shane was telling us some of the backstory of St Kevin, the man who founded the Monastic Settlement in Glendalough. These stories stuck with me, and I even took notes so I could share them with you! Take note that these are by no means 100% factual. These are stories I was told while on a tour, and I just thought they were fun, interesting, and worth sharing.

The Story of the Cow

St Kevin was what I like to think of today as a mountain man. He liked being on his own, away from people, and close to nature and animals. This is probably why his residence ended up being in a cave that looked down onto the two lakes in Glendalough.

The first story I want to share involves a cow that was producing a lot more milk than any other cow ever. Her owner, a farmer from nearby, noticed that one of his cows was producing a lot more milk then all of his other cows, so he followed her one day to see what she was doing. It was discovered that the cow would spend her days licking St Kevin’s feet, and the farmer then said that Kevin “must be a saint”. This story led to people coming from all over to visit Kevin and hear him preach.

St Kevin and Cathleen

The second story is somewhat sad, but humbling. Apparently St Kevin loved being around animals, but he hated being around people. It was also said that he hated being around women because in order to be a good man of God, he should resist that urge. However, a woman named Cathleen ended up developing a crush on Kevin she would clean his cave, make him food, and basically do anything for him. Kevin let it be known that he didn’t want anything to do with her, but when a girl has a crush, it’s hard to keep her away.

As the story goes, one day Kevin found Cathleen in his cave and became so infuriated that he pushed her so that she fell into the lake and ended up drowning. From that day on he prayed that no other woman would ever drown in the lake, and since then, nobody has drowned.

These are just two stories that I was told, but there are many more about St Kevin if you are interested in learning more about him. Personally I am thankful to him for bringing the beauty of Glendalough to the public, because it is well worth the trip.

The Chapel of St Kevin

In keeping with the prayer of the Psalmist, the Architects Daryl Jackson Pty Ltd, were inspired to design a building that prompts us to raise our minds and hearts to the God ever present and central to our lives. The Chapel is named in honour of St Kevin, the founder of the monastery at Glendalough in Ireland. Some stones from the original Chapel of St Kevin in Glendalough are preserved in the wall of the chapel as a connection with the spirituality and learning that flourished in that Irish valley. Omnia Pro Deo.

The Chapel was blessed by Monsignor Gerald Cudmore AM and opened by Mr Des Powell, Chairman of the Board and Mr John McArdle, Chairman of the Appeal on the 5th of December 2001. The builders were Van Driel Pty Ltd.

The Fle`che Cross

Designed by Orchard Studio
Donated to the College by the students of 2001.

The steel Fle`che Cross, stands high above the Chapel, a central sign of the significance of Christ’s transforming love for the entire College community. The Fle`che Cross contains the Celtic elements of the circle and the cross. It holds in balance the circle symbolizing the whole of God’s creation, held in tension by the cross of Christ’s transforming love. The arrow ends on the cross represent the lance that pierced the heart of Jesus. From this wound flowed the last remnants of Jesus’ life, given so totally in love for each of us.

Crucifix – Hand Carved Huon Pine River Red Gum, Stainless Steel

Designed by Orchard Studio
Donated to the College by the Father’s Association

The figure of the broken Christ emerging in triumph from the confines of the Huon pine encourages us to contemplate the Crucifixion and Resurrection. The honey colour of the figure supported on the river red gum vertical beam, speak of the bread and wine of the Eucharist. In the celebration of Eucharist the bread is broken and shared out to the community as a means of remembering Jesus’ own act of self-giving. In the Chapel this is represented in the broken Jesus. When celebrating Eucharist the community gathers around the Altar. As the bread is broken at the table the community is invited to reflect on how they can break the bread of their own lives by bringing life to those in need. The image of the broken Christ stands above them creating a comforting yet challenging symmetry.

The stainless steel detail of the Crucifix is broken in five places, each rupture representing one of the wounds inflicted on the body of the crucified Jesus. This pattern is mirrored in the stainless steel detail of the water feature. These wounds while challenging, help to define the chapel’s space. It is within this space that the community finds its inspiration and hope.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help

This facsimile was done in Rome and modeled on the original which hangs above the High Altar in the Church of the Redemptorists in Via Nomentana, a short distance from the Basilica of Our Lady, Santa Maria Maggiore. It was placed in the porch of the first chapel on this site and when the new chapel was built was restored and refurbished and given its present place at the entrance.

Pews, Central Space, and Lectern

The pews are arranged in choir formation to focus attention on the community that gathers around the Word and the Eucharistic Table. Together the pews, the altar and the lectern define a central space that remains open. It is into this space that the gathered community invites the presence of God into their lives. At the western end of this central space stands the altar, the table around which the community is inspired by the breaking of the bread and the drinking of the cup, symbols of God’s love for his people. At the eastern end is the lectern. It is from the lectern that the Word is proclaimed. It is in listening to this word that the community gains the inspiration to live out God’s covenant vision of a world characterised by freedom and peace. Many families who have been connected to the community have individually donated the pews to the College.

The Tabernacle

The tabernacle holds the consecrated Eucharistic bread. This tabernacle, which was donated to the College by Mr Leo O’Hearn, has been preserved from the original chapel. It carries the triangular symbol of the Trinity: God, Spirit and Jesus. Within this relationship we, the community, are drawn with the promise and hope of eternity, symbolized by the Greek letters Alpha and Omega. The tabernacle stands on a solid stone base. St Kevin’s College, throughout its history and into its future, will be a community committed to, and witnessing, this transforming vision of God’s love a vision that will endure forever.

Sanctuary Lamp

Designed by Mr Anthony Russo of Orchard Studio The warm red glow of the lamp speaks of the hospitality of the gospel story. All are welcomed here. Just as the story of Jesus spoke of a universal love, so the sanctuary lamp speaks of the Eucharistic presence in the Chapel. A presence that is offered to all as a means of peace and comfort, always challenging and uplifting.

Chapel Water Feature/Font Cast Bronze, Stainless Steel

Designed by Mr Anthony Russo of Orchard Studio
Donated to the College by The Senior Mother’s Association

The Pilgrims entered the sacred valley of Glendalough, Ireland through the waters of the Lake of Healing. Here in the chapel of St Kevin you are invited to enter the space through the waters. The water reminds us of our baptism in faith and in our tradition symbolises healing and renewal. Spending time in this sacred space has the potential to bring renewal and healing to our lives.

The continuous flow of the water invites us to reflect on the everlasting nature of the Christian story and the constancy it offers the pilgrim searching for meaning and purpose in their lives.

Madonna and Child

Designed by Mr Mark Weichard of Orchard Design

In the concentrated gaze of the mother and the child is found the expression of a new hope dawning upon our world. In the Jesus story, it is Mary, the poor woman of Nazareth, who nurtured deep within her this promise of great hope for the world. As we contemplate the loving gaze between the Madonna and her child we are invited to reflect on the God that lives within us, and our call to nurture that spirit of God in our own lives.

St Kevin

Designed by Mr Mark Weichard of Orchard Design

St Kevin the mystic, who found the presence of God in the depths of the Glendalough valley, gently cradles a bird in his hands. The harmony that exists between Kevin and the bird speaks of the intrinsic connectedness we share with the earth and all living organisms. St Kevin the scholar, the man of prayer and lover of nature, calls us into a oneness with our world.

The Stations of the Cross

The hand carved stations purchased by the Christian Brothers community come from the original chapel of St Kevin built on this site and opened at a Mass celebrated by Father Ebsworth, Parish Priest of St Peter’s Toorak, Easter 1962. Their restoration in the Chapel of St Kevin was a gift to the College from the Past Mother’s Association. They depict the significant moments in Jesus’ passion. In praying The Stations of the Cross we connect with Jesus and his struggle through adversity. We are challenged to draw inspiration from Jesus and his inner strength. Just as he was transformed through the suffering of the cross so we are transformed by those daily struggles that call on us to be compassionate and to take a stand for justice and peace.

God gave his only begotten son

Audrey McCormack
Arrente people. Alice Springs NT
Synthetic polymer paint on linen

Audrey McCormack is a senior Arrente woman living in a town camp near Alice Springs. She is a member of the Tangentyere Council in Alice Springs and works as an artist, social researcher and environmentalist. She has been passionately engaged in anti-nuclear waste and social housing issues. As well as maintaining her traditional beliefs and stories she is a committed and practicing Christian. Audrey has not substituted Christianity for her traditional beliefs but has found a way to intergrate them as can be seen in this painting.

The title of this painting God gave his only begotten son is from St. John’s Gospel. The ‘U’ shapes on the left and right hand sides of this painting denote people sitting as this is the shape left by a body in the sand. The footprints on the right of the painting suggest people standing.

The painting is divided into three vertical sections similar to the traditional altarpiece format in European art. This arrangement is sometimes called a triptych which sometimes has a predella or horizontal section beneath it.

The imagery in the side panels is unclear but the panel on the left may represent Mary and Joseph each side of the baby Jesus with three wise men at the bottom left. The panel on the right may represent the resurrection or transfiguration of Jesus.

Ganalbingu Ceremony Story

Charlie Djurritini
b. 1952 Raminginging, Central Arnhem Land NT
2006, Ochre on canvas

Charlie Djurritini was born near a place called Matyka in the Arafura swamplands. As a child he went to the mission school at Milingimbi. He left school at about the age of 14 and worked as a labourer and mechanic’s assistant before becoming an artist.

The painting is the depiction of a Ganalbingu mortuary story. It tells a story about the funeral of an old man and a young girl.

The left panel of the painting depicts a ceremonial pole of a waterlily made with feathers that the leader of the ceremony would carry. There is also a hollow log coffin and a magpie goose totem. The bones of each person are in dilly bags before they are put into the log coffins.

The middle panel depicts the funeral ceremony with participants playing wooden music sticks (clap sticks) and didgeridu and dancing until the bones are ready to go into the hollow log coffins. Funeral ceremonies can sometimes last for weeks with dancing going on until everyone who was connected to the dead person feels that the spirit has come back into them.

The panel on the right represents two traditional paperbark shelters where participants would sleep and make a fire to keep the mosquitos away. They are made from young green trees covered with bark and have big holes at the top for the smoke to escape.

The work is painted with natural ochres dug from the ground and mixed with a binder, traditionally the sap of a wild orchid. The reddish brown colour is made by grinding the local sandstone to a fine powder and mixing it with orchid sap to make a paste. The black is either charcoal or manganese and the white is a sacred pipeclay that is often traded over hundreds of kilometres. Brushes are made with fine grasses or a well-chewed fibrous stick and sometimes with human hair.

The diagonal lines in-filled with cross-hatching in the painting are called ‘rarrk’. These lines are highly idiosyncratic and act as the artist’s personal clan signature.

In a 1998 interview Charlie said: ‘My father told me everything before he died. These paintings are for Balanda (white people) and Yolngu. These paintings are to show Balanda what my culture is. To show where my country and Dreaming is from. I only paint about one place, Mutyka – that’s my country. These pictures come from my head – I think about my culture’.

Charlie Djurritini is represented in the collections of:

National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery of New South Wales, National Gallery of Victoria, Queensland Art Gallery, The Robert Holmes a Court Collection, Perth.

Land and Spirits

Linda Syddick Napaltjarri (Tjunkiya Wukula Napaltjarri)
c.1937 Lake MacKay, Gibson Desert WA
Synthetic polymer paint on canvas

Linda Syddick lived a traditional, nomadic life until 1945 when, after many weeks travelling, her family walked out of the desert to the Christian mission at Haast’s Bluff. As a young woman Linda embraced Christianity which continues to influence her worldview and her painting.

The primary inspiration for her painting is the interconnectedness of Christian faith and Aboriginal mythology. Central to her work is the notion that spirits dwell in the sky, come to earth and interact with human beings, then return to their celestial home. These spirits, therefore, are not unlike the angels in European painting or the Gods in Greek mythology.

In Land and Spirits Linda has depicted her country in the sand painting style used for thousands of years to pass on Dreaming stories in Central Australia. For Linda these spirit figures inhabit the landscape and are just as real as Lake MacKay and the sand hills in her country. For her the land is filled with spirits, whether they be Christian spirits or ancestral spirits, and the land is holy. Her country near Maralinga was used to test Atomic bombs in the 1950’s.

On four occasions Linda has been a finalist in the Blake Prize, the national Australian award for religious art.

Linda Syddick Napaltjarri is represented in the collections of:

National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery of South Australia, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Art Gallery of New South Wales, National Gallery of Victoria, Berndt Museum of Anthropology, Western Australia.

St. Kevin's Church

St. Kevin's Church at the Glendalough monastic site County Wicklow, Ireland.

So much history in this area.

The early Christian monastic settlement was founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century and from this developed the “Monastic City”. Most of the buildings that survive today date from the 10th through 12th centuries. Despite attacks by Vikings over the years, Glendalough thrived as one of Ireland’s great ecclesiastical foundations and schools of learning until the Normans destroyed the monastery in 1214 A.D. and the dioceses of Glendalough and Dublin were united.

St. Kevin’s Church better known as St. Kevin’s Kitchen is a nave-and-chancel church of the 12th century. It is called St Kevin’s kitchen because people believed that the bell tower was a chimney to a kitchen but really no food was ever cooked there. This stone-roofed building originally had a nave only, with entrance at the west end and a small round-headed window in the east gable. The belfry with its conical cap and four small windows rises from the west end of the stone roof in the form of a miniature round tower.

In the distance to the left you can see the Round Tower which stands 33 meters above the ground. It was built almost 1000 years ago by the monks of St. Kevin’s monastery.

Watch the video: Singing the Doxology in St. Kevins Kitchen at Glendalough (December 2021).