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Suggestions on the Arrangement and Characteristics of Parish Churches/Preface


The following pages contain a paper read at a general meeting of the Irish Ecclesiological Society, in the early part of this year, the publication of which was unanimously voted. They are intended as a reply, on the part of the society, to the question—“How we should build our Churches?”

It cannot be expected, nor is it professed, that so large a subject could be treated with complete fulness in a paper read at a public meeting. It is hoped, nevertheless, that the present essay will have the effect of directing many persons to study the real requirements and true characteristics of a Church, in those quarters where safest guidance may be hoped for. To me it appears abundantly evident, that the much-needed improvement, in our ecclesiastical architecture, must be wrought by acquiring our knowledge of the Church's requirements within the Church herself—in other words, from her authorized books of rites and ceremonies; and that, so far as art is concerned, our safest course, at present, is to study those remains of Catholic antiquity which have escaped the devastations of faithless times. We must, moreover, strive for the high spirit of loyalty and affection for the Church which animated the Christian artists of the ages of faith. “We must work as Catholics, if we would succeed, even as architects—we must work as for God and his Church, and we shall soon outstrip the bonds of imitation and archæology, and, starting from the principles of the mighty workers of old, may trust in time to surpass even the glorious creations they have left us.”

Leinster Road, Rathmines,
Nov., 1851.