SCULPTURES AT ST. MARY’S PRIORY

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If you are interested in the history and art of religious sculptures, you might want to visit St Mary’s Priory in Galway City. This Dominican church, located in the Claddagh area of the city, has some remarkable sculptures on its gable end that depict St Dominic receiving the rosary from the Virgin Mary.

St Mary’s Priory was founded by the Dominicans in 1492, when they moved from Athenry to Galway. They restored an old ruined building that was once owned by Premonstratensian Canons dating from 1235. The church was destroyed by Cromwellian forces in 1651, but was rebuilt in 1670. The sculptures on the gable end were added in 1892, to commemorate the fourth centenary of the Dominican presence in Galway.

The sculptures are made of Portland stone and were carved by James Pearse, father of Patrick and William Pearse, who were leaders of the Easter Rising of 1916. James Pearse was a sculptor and stonemason who worked on many churches and public buildings in Ireland. He was also a devout Catholic and a supporter of Irish nationalism.

The main sculpture shows St Dominic kneeling before the Virgin Mary, who is holding the infant Jesus and a rosary. Above them are two angels holding a crown and a scroll with the words “St Dominic receives the rosary from the Virgin Mary”. The rosary is a form of prayer that consists of meditating on the mysteries of Christ’s life while reciting Hail Marys, Our Fathers and Glory Bes. It is traditionally associated with the Dominicans, who claim that St Dominic received it from the Virgin Mary in a vision in 1208, as a weapon against heresy and sin.

On either side of the main sculpture are two smaller ones, showing St Catherine of Siena and St Thomas Aquinas, two famous Dominican saints. St Catherine of Siena was a 14th century mystic and reformer who had a great influence on the papacy and the church. She is depicted holding a lily, a symbol of purity, and a book, a symbol of wisdom. St Thomas Aquinas was a 13th century theologian and philosopher who wrote the Summa Theologica, one of the most important works of Christian doctrine. He is depicted holding a sun, a symbol of his brilliance, and a quill, a symbol of his writing.

The sculptures at St Mary’s Priory are not only beautiful examples of religious art, but also expressions of faith and identity. They reflect the devotion of the Dominicans to the Virgin Mary and the rosary, as well as their intellectual and spiritual heritage.

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53.268275, -9.055469

Sculptures At St. Mary's Priory

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