Welcome to Saint Malachy's Catholic Church
For over 170 years this church has been the focal point of our local parish community. It has also been an oasis of peace and prayer for parishioners, city workers, tourists and shoppers in the midst of a busy life and at times noisy city.
We hope that your visit to Saint Malachy’s Church will afford you some time for quiet reflection on the meaning of your own life journey.
On 3rd November 1841, the feast of Saint Malachy, the foundation stone for Saint Malachy’s Church was laid. On 15th December 1844, Dr William Crolly, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of all Ireland dedicated the building. Originally Saint Malachy’s was intended to be the Cathedral Church of the Diocese of Down and Connor and was to seat 7,000 worshippers.
However, this plan did not come to fruition. The construction of the Church cost almost £6,000, which was offset by a donation of £3,000 from Captain Thomas Griffith. There is a tablet in the porch of the Church in his memory. The Church is regarded as one of the finest examples of Tudor Revival Churches in Ireland.
St Malachy’s was designed by Thomas Jackson and it is in the ecclesiastical style of the Tudor period. It is cruciform in shape, 113 feet long, 52 feet wide and 40 feet high. The original high alter, pulpit and altar rails were of Irish Oak. These were replaced with marble when the Church was renovated in 1926. All that remains of the original ornaments is the canopy over the pulpit which has been painted to match the marble of the present altar furnishings. The sanctuary floor is mosaic, the principal colour being blue. At the foot of the altar is a pelican, a common Christian symbol of sacrifice.
SAINT MALACHY'S CHURCH
Saint Malachy's Church is a Catholic Church in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It is located in Alfred Street, a short distance from Belfast City Hall. The Church is the focal point of the local parish community and Saint Malachy's Parish is one of the 88 parishes in the Diocese of Down and Connor.
In the beginning Saint Malachy's was administered by the priests of Saint Mary's Parish until The Parish of Saint Malachy was created in 1866 and Fr Geoffrey Brennan was appointed Administrator. The first Parish Priest of Saint Malachy's was Fr Daniel McCashin.
On the November 3, 1841, the feast of Saint Malachy, the foundation stone for Saint Malachy's Church was laid. On December 15, 1844 Dr William Crolly, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland dedicated the building. Dr Crolly was a native and former Bishop of the Diocese of Down and Connor. Originally Saint Malachy's was intended to be the Cathedral Church of the Diocese of Down and Connor and was to seat 7,000 worshippers. What was intended to be the vast sanctuary of the new Cathedral was remodelled to serve as the local Church. The Church is regarded as one of the finest examples of Tudor Revival churches in Ireland.
The Church was designed by Thomas Jackson of Waterford and it is in the ecclesiastical style of the Tudor period. It is cruciform in shape, 113 feet wide, 52 feet wide and 40 feet high. The original High Altar, Pulpit and Altar Rails were of Irish Oak however they were replaced with marble when the Church was renovated in 1926. All that remains of the original ornaments is the canopy over the pulpit which has been painted white to match the marble of the present altar furnishings. The Sanctuary floor is mosaic, the principal colour being blue. At the foot of the Altar is a pelican, a common Christian symbol of sacrifice.
Saint Malachy's is, perhaps, best known for its fan vaulted ceiling which is an imitation of the Henry VII Chapel in Westminster Abbey. Sir Charles Brett stated: It is as though a wedding cake has been turned inside out, so creamy, lacy and frothy is the plasterwork.
There are two Side Altars in the Church, on either side of the Sanctuary.
One is dedicated to Saint Joseph, the other to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The Church also has statues of the
Sacred Heart of Jesus,
Saint Francis of Assisi,
Saint Anthony of Padua,
Saint Malachy, and
Saint Benedict Joseph Labre, known as "The Ragged Saint" by the people of Belfast and throughout Ireland.
CHURCH BUILDING FUND
The Church was restored in 2011 at a cost of over three million pounds. The Church Building Fund is in place to encourage donations to cover the restoration costs and maintain the church in its current high standard of quality and splendour.
We greatly appreciate any donations to the church building fund.
We accept all major credit cards or Paypal, through fast and secure payment.
Above the sanctuary, there are three paintings. The central painting depicts Our Lord falling under the weight of the Cross. It is flanked by a painting of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception and Saint Malachy. These were painted by an Austrian-Italian called Felix Piccione.
Saint Malachy’s Church is, perhaps, best known for its fan vaulted ceiling which is an imitation of the Henry VII Chapel in Westminster Abbey. After visiting Saint Malachy’s, Sir Charles Brett, wrote: “It is as though a wedding cake has been turned inside out, so creamy, lacy and frothy is the plasterwork.”
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There are two side altars in the Church, on either side of the sanctuary. One is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the other to Saint Joseph. The Church also has statues of the Sacred Heart, Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Anthony of Padua, Saint Therese of Lisieux, Saint Philomena, Saint Malachy himself, and Saint Benedict Joseph Labre, known as “The Ragged Saint”.
Saint Benedict Joseph Labre
Saint Benedict Joseph was born on 26th March 1748 in France. He tried to join the Trappists, Carthusians and Cistercians, but was rejected by them all. He spent years wandering Europe, before coming to Rome. Whilst in Rome, he would go into a Church and pray for many hours on end in front of the Blessed Sacrament during the Forty Hours of Adoration. He died in Rome on the 17th April 1783 and on the 8th December 1881, he was canonised by Pope Leo XIII. Near to Saint Malachy’s Church was the old Employment Office and many people would stop by at Saint Benedict Joseph’s shrine to say a prayer and light a candle in the hope of finding work.
The organ was made and built by the famous Telford family from Dublin and it is considered to be one of the finest and most important organs in Ulster. If funds were to become available, this organ could be restored to its former glory.
The original bell of the Church cracked in 1845, soon after the opening of the Church. It was replaced in 1868 and is the largest bell in Belfast. The bell was silenced for a while, then later it was coated in felt to muffle it slightly. The legend is that it was too loud and its peal sent shock waves which interfered with the distilling of whiskey in the Dunville Distillery, located near the Church but now long gone. The bell still calls the people to Mass and to prayer every day of the week.
During the Second World War Saint Malachy’s was damaged during the Blitz by the German Luftwaffe. In one raid, nearly all the windows were blown out. The frames had been carved from solid oak but, because of the war and rationing, it was impossible to replace them with wood. As an alternative the new window frames were made of pre-cast stone. At the time of the restoration work 2008/9, the windows were refitted into oak frames.
Saint Malachy’s and the City of Belfast
The Church has been admired by many people over the years. It has been called ‘the finest late Georgian edifice in the city’. It’s unique décor, inside and outside, makes Saint Malachy’s Church a ‘must see’ for tourists to the city. In recent times Belfast City Council have erected signs leading to the Church and outside the front gate.
The Restoration of the Church
Restoration work undertaken in 2008 cost £3.5m. The new furnishings include an Altar, Celebrant’s Chair and Baptismal Font. These were all carved from Portuguese limestone. The pews and floor of the Church, along with the shrines to the saints, were also replaced during the restoration project. The statues of Our Lady and Saint Joseph, on either side of the sanctuary, are original to 1844. These were removed from the church in the 1950s and have now been fully restored.
Since the restoration work was completed, the Church has received a number of architectural awards. These can be viewed on entering the Church on the left hand side of the entrance porch. The enormous investment in Saint Malachy’s Church has ensured that it will remain a fitting place for the worship of God for generations to come.
A Time for Reflection
In the silence, savour the gift of this moment. Every place of worship reminds us that God is near to us. Its beauty and grandeur reflect the beauty and grandeur of God who dwells among us and constantly seeks to attract out attention. As a place of worship, St Malachy’s Church has always been a sign of God’s faithful presence for all the people of the city, regardless of race, colour or creed.
As you become immersed in the beauty that surrounds you in this church, allow it to touch you and draw you into that inner sanctuary of your own heart. In the silence, savour the gift of this moment and give thanks for the gift of life.
‘This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you.’ John 15:12
DONATE TO THE PARISH
Saint Malachy's Parish is very pleased to announce that we are now accepting secure donations online via Paypal. You do not need to have a Paypal account and can pay by visa card. Your help is much appreciated.
Saint Malachy's Parish Belfast
“...a Living Community of Faith, centred on the Person of Jesus Christ where all People are accepted, made welcome, and called to New Life”
Saint Malachy's Parish
24 Alfred Street
Fax:028 9033 3224
Tel: 028 9032 1713
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