Dominican Church Claddagh
O Lumen Ecclesiae - Light of the Church
The eight centenary of Saint Dominic’s death is celebrated this year. Dominic died in
Bologna in Italy on 6th of August 1221. The Dominic I now recall is the saint who lived the
freedom of the Gospel and has become ‘The light of the Church’ - as the traditional prayer
Recently, on a May evening I sat in the church of Saint Mary’s in the Claddagh in Galway and
waited for the sun to light up a stained-glass window: ‘A procession with two cardinals and
St Dominic holding an image of Our Lady’. In May and September, the setting sun filters
through the trees and illuminates this magnificent window. By doing so the candles light up,
and the icon of Mary carried by Dominic becomes a shimmering blue. Sister Cecilia, who
narrates this event also gives us her unique description of Dominic: ‘he was slender and of
medium height, he had reddish hair and his eyes were beautiful’…
The 1939 window is the work of Hubert McGoldrick with a helping hand from Michael Healy
– two of the prominent arts and crafts people of An Tur Gloine workshop. Other members
included Harry Clarke, Evie Hone and Wilhelmina Geddes. The output of the co-operative
covers the years 1903 – 1955 and it has left a world class legacy of Irish stained–glass
admired throughout the world. The work of An Tur Gloine is recognisable for its vivid
colouring and pioneering techniques.
McGoldrick’s window recalls a group of women, whom Dominic had brought back to the
Catholic faith, taking possession of the Church of San Sisto in Rome. Their task is to support
Blessed Dominic’s mission of preaching by prayer and penance, and equally, the Order of
Preachers, to preach God’s Word in season and out of season. This group of women and an
earlier group in Prouille in the South of France are the forerunners of the Dominican nuns
and sisters and laity.
The text that inspired the window reads: “When Blessed Dominic preached to the sisters in
the evening, the brethren outside and the sisters inside lit large lamps so that they could
more easily see what was taking place in the church. This significant event Blessed Dominic
performed in the Church of San Sisto near the cloister window, in the presence of Sister
Cecilia and the other sisters of San Sisto”. Again, it is Sister Cecilia who gives us this
Note. The Narrations of by Sister Cecilia in: Saint Dominic, Biographical Documents, by Francis C, Lehner, O.P.
The Thomist Press, Washington, D.C. (1964).
Jordan O’Brien op