Mount St. Alphonsus Back to Biographical

Mount St. Alphonsus
Limerick City, 15 May 2012

This is the Redemptorist church in Limerick city. Before you look at the rest of the pictures I would just like to make a few points about it.

This is the church which was the centre of the Limerick "pogrom" against the Jews of the city in 1904.

It was also the seat of the Archconfraternity which, in its day, put the fear of God into any wayward or potentially "liberal" catholics.

The complex looks very big, comprising the church, a monastery and [possibly a school]

The church itself is very imposing inside and is highly bejewelled and decorated with mosaics.

In recent months the community there has become famous again, but this time over the silencing by the Vatican of two Redemptorist priests: Fr Tony Flannery and Fr. Gerard Moloney.

While the complex is large, the church itself is not exceptional from the outside. There are some niches with statues and angel figures on corners, but otherwise it is rather staid and conventional.


The entrance is quite imposing. You are immediately confronted with Christ flanked by angels and above him the Redemptorist motto: Copiosa apud eum redemptio. This is from Psalm 130 v7 Quia apud Dominum misericordia et copiosa apud eum redemptio which roughly translates In the Lord there is mercy and ample redemption. So the motto on its own would mean The fullness of redemption is in the Lord.

In the porch, and before you enter the Church itself, is the benign statue of St. Alphonsus Liguori, the founder of the Order.

the high altar really hits you when you enter the church. There is a great sense of space and facing you at a distance is this magnificent altar surmounted by the mural of the Redeemer.

The view from the altar looking back towards the entrance is no less impressive, with its gallery, organ and stained glass windows.

An alcove at the bottom of the church depicts the passion of Christ. It is a bit scary and, at least for me, has resonances of Hannibal Lector in the Silence of the Lambs.

There are Holy Water churns close by, displaying all the theological subtlety which applies in such matters. The water is free but there is a 2 charge for the container. And just in case you are thinking of nicking the containers and flogging them elsewhere, you are reminded that the electronic eye of the Lord is watching your every move.

This is the founder's altar with what I take to be a relic on permanent display in the sort of monstrance in the centre.

The altar of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour. The original of this icon was entrusted to the Redemptorists and reposes in the church of St. Alphonsus Liguori in Rome.

I assume this was the surround for a bellpush which summoned a priest to hear out of hours confession. Its demise could be due to the abolition of out of hours confession or even the advent of the mobile phone. Who knows?

This is the examination table, laid out as though for study, but actually consisting of an exam prayer, a book to enter names and an instruction leaflet, reproduced below.

In the old days people prayed to get their exams. Now the theology of this was quite complex and it was difficult to explain why the good Lord should be expected to help one student over another. Surely this would amount to a form of cheating. Indeed.

But the theology has developed since those crude days of my youth and the actual exam prayer, as set out on the table, is much more subtle and goes like this:
O Wise God, I pray that my mind might be rested, my body energised and my spirit inspired for the exam I must write.

Grant me peace and assurance so that I might do the best I am able, regardless of what might be.

Be with my fellow students and may I be a good example to them, offering reassurance and confidence regardless of how I feel.

May I be honest and insightful, and able to give a true record of what I have learned. In the end, may any disappointment be borne with grace, and any joy accompanied with humility.

I write this exam with You, O Lord Jesus Christ.

Stops well short of the earnestly sought revelation of my day and could pass muster with the Holy Competition Authority any day.

St. Peter presides over the Archconfraternity of the Holy Family for which Limerick was particularly well known.

For your penance, translate the above.

A tasteful tableau of the Resurrection to accompany the Easter Candle at the High Altar.

A glance over your shoulder on your way out shows the logo and motto of the Order.

The seal of the Congregation consists of a cross with a lance and sponge mounted on three hills; on either side of the cross are the abbreviated names of Jesus and Mary; above the cross is an eye sending forth rays; over all a crown. Around the seal is the motto: With him is plentiful redemption (Cfr. Psalm 130:7)
- General Statutes of the Redemptorists, No. 06

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