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Glenstal Abbey

June 10, 2007

corey says…This morning we headed to mass at Glenstal Abbey in Morroe, just outside of Limerick. The approach along the drive is very beautiful and the towers marking the entrance are quite dramatic. The abbey was once a castle, but was sold to the Benedictines in 1926.

At today’s mass, there were about 45 Girl Guides (like Girl Scouts). They marched up aisle and filled the first seven rows.

Chant & Icons
Mass at Glenstal is quite an affair. Lots of beautiful Gregorian chant and incense. After mass, we stopped by the reception room for some tea and a peek around the gift shop. There, we asked the abbot if we could see the relics. He told us to enjoy some coffee, and he’d be with us in a moment.

Seeing the relics was one of the most interesting spiritual experiences in my life. The relics were given to the monastery for safe keeping shortly after World War II. The monks have restored several of them and have created an amazing underground chapel to display them.

These relics are not only beautiful works of art, they also reveal bits of human history. The abbot himself gave us the tour, and he was so familiar with each of the relics he spoke about, and was able to share so many details…the symbolism, the historical significance, the craftsmanship. He also referenced the Book of Kells and other bits of Irish history. It was an absolutely fascinating lesson on Eastern and Western Church history.

I would have to say, I enjoyed this very personal tour of the relics more than any of my visits to the Book of Kells in Dublin…and we were able to follow it up with a walk through the gardens…beautiful!

Those interested in viewing the relics, should contact the abbey. The monks will see if they can accommodate your request…the relics do not have scheduled viewing times and tours are not always available. The High Mass at Glenstal takes place at 10a on Sundays.

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