Heart of St Laurence O’Toole – Dedication of New Home
Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin. 14 November 2018.
The heart of St Laurence O’Toole goes on permanent public display in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, from November 14, 2018. This occasion will be marked by free entry to the cathedral from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm, welcoming the people of Dublin to view the heart of the city’s patron saint.
A special ecumenical service of dedication and thanksgiving marking this historic occasion will be held that evening at 5:45 pm. The Archbishop of Dublin, The Most Revd Dr Michael Jackson, will first bless and dedicate the redesigned grounds incorporating the new stone labyrinth. Following this the Archbishop will preside at a service of Festal Choral Evensong, sung by the Cathedral Choirs, during which he will bless and dedicate the new resting place of the heart of St Laurence O’Toole. This service will be open to the public and all are most welcome to attend.
St Laurence’s heart will be housed in a specially designed art piece, crafted by the renowned Cork–based artist Eoin Turner.
Commenting on this upcoming special day of celebration, the Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, The Very Revd Dermot Dunne, stated, ‘I am delighted that we have two such tremendous reasons for celebration at this time. We are deeply grateful for the grant funding from Dublin City Council and Fáilte Ireland that has enabled the redesign and landscaping of our grounds. Further it is my great privilege and joy at this time to be able to return the heart of St Laurence to the people of Dublin.’
Theft and Return
The heart relic was stolen from the cathedral in March 2012 from the iron–barred cage on the wall of the Chapel of St Laud, which had been its resting place for many years. Following a long–running investigation, the heart was recovered, undamaged, by An Garda Síochána. After a six year absence, it was officially handed over by Assistant Commissioner Pat Leahy to the Archbishop of Dublin at a service of Choral Evensong on April 26 this year.
About St Laurence O’Toole
Laurence O’Toole is the Patron Saint of Dublin and is closely associated with the early years of Christ Church Cathedral. His feast day falls on November 14.
He was born at Castledermot, County Kildare, in 1132, the youngest of four sons of Maurice O’Toole, a Leinster chieftain, who was engaged in rivalry with the powerful Mac Murchada family. When he was 10 years old, Laurence was handed over to Diarmait Mac Murchada as a hostage for his father’s loyalty. When his father was suspected of treachery, Laurence was imprisoned and became very ill. He was eventually rescued and cared for by the Bishop of Glendalough and decided to join the church. He was ordained a priest and became abbot of the monastery at Glendalough at the age of 25. In 1161 he became Archbishop of Dublin and was consecrated the following year at Christ Church Cathedral.
The Anglo–Norman invasion of Ireland, led by Strongbow, in 1169 resulted in two sieges and a famine in Dublin. Laurence played an important part in the negotiations when an Anglo–Norman victory became inevitable.
Laurence has traditionally been given credit for the rebuilding of Christ Church in the 1180s, although it is now considered more likely that his successor, Archbishop John Cumin, was responsible.
In 1180, Laurence left Ireland for the last time to travel to Normandy. However, he became ill on arrival and was brought to the Abbey of St Victor at Eu where he died on 14 November 1180. He was made a saint in 1226.
Following Laurence’s canonisation some relics of his were returned to Dublin where they lay in the cathedral’s relic collection until the Reformation. The heart had been on display in the Chapel of St Laud in the cathedral until it was stolen in 2012.