Things to see in Dublin
St Patricks Cathedral
Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland, founded in 1191, is the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland. With its 43-metre spire, St. Patrick’s is the tallest church in Ireland and the largest.
Unusually, St Patrick’s is not the seat of a bishop, as the Archbishop of Dublin has his seat in Christ Church Cathedral. Since 1870, the Church of Ireland has designated St Patrick’s as the national cathedral for the whole of Ireland, drawing chapter members from each of the twelve dioceses of the Church of Ireland. The dean is the ordinary for the cathedral; this office has existed since 1219. The most famous office holder was Jonathan Swift.
There is almost no precedent for a two-cathedral city, and some believe it was intended that St Patrick’s, a secular (diocesan clergy who are not members of a religious order, i.e. under a rule and, therefore, “regular”) cathedral, would replace Christ Church, a cathedral managed by an order.
A confrontational situation persisted, with considerable tension, over the decades after the establishment of St Patrick’s, and was eventually settled, more-or-less, by the signing of a six-point agreement of 1300, Pacis Compositio. Still extant, and in force until 1870, it provided that:
- The consecration and enthronement of the Archbishop of Dublin was to take place at Christ Church – records show that this provision was not always followed, with many archbishops enthroned in both, and at least two in Saint Patrick’s only
- Christ Church had formal precedence, as the mother and senior cathedral of the diocese
- Christ Church was to retain the cross, mitre and ring of each deceased Archbishop of Dublin
- Deceased Archbishops of Dublin were to be buried alternately in each of the two cathedrals, unless they personally willed otherwise
- The annual consecration of chrism oil for the diocese was to take place at Christ Church
- The two cathedrals were to act as one, and shared equally in their freedoms.
Over the following centuries, the two cathedrals functioned together in the diocese, until in the period of disestablishment of the Church of Ireland, the current designation of one as the cathedral of Dublin and Glendalough, and one as the National Cathedral, was developed.