Inside Our Church

Our church on Bridge Street is very beautiful.    On entering, over the central doorway are three icons:  Our Lord seated in glory, Our Lady and John the Baptist.     These were commissioned by our late Prior Fr. Jim Harris O.P. and painted by Romanian artist and iconographer Mihai Cucu.

The central aisle is flanked by twelve pillars.   The ornamental capitals at the top of each and the statues above them, statues of Dominican saints were sculpted by Dublin stonemason James Pearse, the father of the 1916 patriots Padraig and William.

At the end of the aisle on the left is the shrine of St. Martin de Porres O.P.   The altar at the top of this aisle is dedicated to St. Joseph.   The fresco was painted by the Irish Dominican Fr. Aengus Buckley O.P.    It shows St. Joseph  surrounded by four angels.    Fr. Buckley got four local girls, three of whom are still alive, to sit as models for the angels.

On the right side of the church at  the back is a shrine to St. Dominic, opened to mark 800 years of the Dominicans, the Order of Preachers,  and towards the top of the aisle is a shrine to Padre Pio, to which there is great devotion.   The beautiful altar at the top is for Our Lady of the Rosary.   The statue depicts Our Lady giving the rosary to St. Dominic and St. Catherine of Siena.    Two fine mosaics show the Nativity and the Coronation of Our Lady.    Above these we see angels.

The original high altar has been preserved.     The marble statue of the Sacred Heart that was over it can now be seen on the quay, near the clock tower, where it was placed as a monument to the Patriot Dead of Ireland.    Around the altar are seven mosaic panels.    The three central ones show the transfigured Christ with Peter, James and John and above them Moses and Elijah.    The four side panels are of local interest.    First, on the left is St. Otteran baptising a Viking chief.    He is shown standing in front of Reginald’s Tower but St. Otteran never set foot in Waterford.    It was the Vikings who had great devotion to him and this was adopted by the locals, so much so that Otteran is now a Patron Saint of the diocese of Waterford and Lismore.     Next is St. Declan of Ardmore and behind him is the Cathedral on Barronstrand  street.

The original cartoons for the design of these mosaics were drawn by an Irish Dominican Fr. John Heuston O.P. brother of Sean Heuston , another 1916 patriot.  Across to the standing Dominican friar.    This is Fr, Geoffrey, one of the first Dominicans in Waterford.    He was a noted scholar, especially of languages,  who translated the bible and other sacred writings into Arabic and other languages.    The seated figure in a lay brother’s habit is thought to be Fr. John Heuston who often included himself in his works.   The church behind them is this church, St. Saviours.     Finally there is Our Lady of Waterford guarding the city along with her religious troops.    The forbidding chap below on the horse is Oliver Cromwell – yes ! – a picture of Cromwell in a Catholic church in Ireland !    Between Our Lady and Cromwell appears the crest of Waterford with the motto ‘Urbs Intacta Manet’ – ‘the city remains untaken’.     This motto was given to Waterford by an English king, Henry VII in 1497, centuries before Cromwell was born.    It was granted to the noble citizens of Waterford who had kept the city for the English King safe from the rebellious Irish who tried to take it.    Here Fr. Heuston uses it as a snub to Cromwell who laid siege to Waterford  for nine months but failed to break in.   Above the mosaics are five frescoes.   These depict the four evangelists and, in the centre, the Holy Spirit.

Feel free to walk up behind the altar to view the mosaics.


Dominicans in Waterford

The  Dominican Order was founded in 1216,  eight hundred years ago, to combat heresy which was rife in Europe at the time.   St. Dominic gathered a small group of men around him to pray, to study and to preach the Gospel to the people.   At that time this was most unusual as only Bishops were allowed to preach.   Ordinary priests were not permitted to do so.    When the people saw these first Dominicans preaching openly in public they were amazed.   They became popularly known as Friars (Brothers) Preachers.

The Dominicans arrived in Ireland in 1214 making two foundations, one at Dublin and the other in Drogheda.    The following year they opened a third house, the famous Black Abbey in Kilkenny.   Then they pushed on southwards and came here to Waterford in 1226.

But for all the hurry with which they came to Waterford it took nine years before they found a permanent home.   Then they were given permission and a site on which they built a church and priory at Blackfriars, just inside the old city walls.

 The ruins of the chapel and tower can still be seen off Conduit Lane.  

There followed centuries of persecution and suppression during which the Dominicans were driven out of Waterford many times,  but they always returned.

At a large public meeting in 1873  one of the priests made an impassioned plea “that the people of Waterford in the 19th century would do what their forefathers did in the 13th century:  build for the children of St. Dominic a church that will be worthy of Waterford and a suitable temple to Almighty God “.   The generosity of the response was spectacular.    Work on the new church began in 1874  and it was opened for public worship in late 1876.   The following year the church was consecrated on 2nd, December 1877 by Bishop John Power assisted by Bishop Thomas Croke of Cashel ( who gave his name to Croke Park ) and William Fitzgerald, Bishop of Ross.  

Further improvements and additions came later to give us the church we have today, the Dominicans, Bridge Street, Waterford.



Padre Pio Shrine

There is now a new shrine to Saint Padre Pio in the church.     It is to be found in Our Lady’s aisle. 





Our Lady of Waterford

Our  Lady of  Waterford

This beautiful little statue can be found in St Saviours church on Bridge Street in Waterford.     It is located on the right hand side ( as you enter ) just outside the altar rails. The title Our Lady of Waterford is appropriate as the statue has helped generations of Waterford people in their devotion to the Mother of God.

The Dominicans first came to Waterford in 1226 and it is believed the statue held a place of honour in the original Dominican Priory situated on Blackfriars Street.   When the last Prior, William Martin surrendered the priory to Henry VIII the site contained a chapel called   ‘ Our Lady’s chapel ‘ and it is possible the statue was procured for that Chapel.

It is made of wood lightly painted.    It was made on the continent of Europe but it’s date of origin is uncertain.

Dispossession and persecution failed to dim the devotion of the people of Waterford to the Mother of God.     Without the shelter of a priory or chapel the statue some how survived the persecution.    One of the Dominican friars wrapped it carefully, applied three coats of paint and then encased the whole lot in a large brick.    Miraculously, when the danger had passed,  it was discovered, excavated  from the block, unwrapped and cleaned.

In 1815 with the death of Fr. Anthony Duane it seemed as if the Dominican presence in Waterford had come to an end.    The statue was removed to the Dominican Black Abbey in Kilkenny and later it was taken to Limerick.    Invited back by Bishop O’Brien in 1865 the Dominicans resumed their apostolate in Waterford.    In 1867 they opened an oratory in Bridge Street and in May 1876 the present church was opened for public worship.    The statue of Our Lady of Waterford was returned from Limerick and has remained in this church ever since.

In gratitude for the many favours received the people of Waterford commissioned Messrs.  Egan of Cork to make two gold crowns and a sceptre for the statue.    These were placed on the statue in a ceremony in 1934 in front of a large congregation.

This statue has been removed for renovation and for its protection during the work on the church.

Our Lady of Waterford protect us.

Saint Padre Pio Mass and Blessing with Relic

Each month here in Bridge street we have a mass in honour of Saint Padre Pio.     It takes place at 10.30 a.m. on the first Saturday of the month.     At the end of that mass you will get an opportunity to bless yourself with a relic of Padre Pio.

The relic we have here in the Priory is one of Padre Pio’s gloves.    When he received the stigmata,  thousands of people came to see him, but many of those only came out of curiosity.    They just wanted to see his wounds and be able to say that they saw them.    So his Superiors gave him instructions to cover up the wounds.    The wounds on his feet were already covered by his shoes and of course the wound in his side was covered by his Capuchin habit.    He got a number of little gloves – light fingerless mittens- to cover the wounds on his hands.   It is one of these that we are privileged to possess here in Bridge Street and you can bless yourself with it.   If you are unable to attend you can call in to the shop next door to the church any day during the week and ask for a blessing.

Mass in honour of Saint Padre Pio

And Blessing with the relic

the first Saturday of each month

at 10.30 a.m.