Last Sunday there was a ceremony in the primatial city of Armagh which I was sorry to miss — the opening of a new church which replaces an old one in which generations of Armagh people have worshipped.
The old church was almost ready to fall. It is one of those homely, rugged buildings of the Penal days, dark, cramped, and unfit for renovation, which mean much to us. Sanctity clings to the crumbling walls, and we think of the brave, old, impoverished generations who heard their Masses here, were baptised, married, carried to the grave, by the Penal priests, when priests and people saved the Faith for us.
Then the new church, near the south entrance of the city, in the Catholic quarter, how it symbolises in its soaring beauty the Catholic renaissance of modern Ireland!
Papal Legate Avoided Scotch Street
I remember the Papal Legate's visit to Armagh after the Congress of 1932, when the Pope's envoy had to be led by a wide detour to enter the city by this end, since it was dangerous to come in by the natural road from Newry, through Scotch street. A car that followed him was robbed of the Irish Flag, when its driver ventured into Scotch street, a Protestant quarter.
How long is this corner of Ireland, Saint Patrick's own part of Ireland, to be filled with the atmosphere of bad old days of persecution and religious strife? When will Christian goodwill prevail here?