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.