The Cathedral's Entrance
It was a busy Saturday Morning when I stepped into the calm of St. Anne’s Cathedral for the first time and was warmly welcomed by a kindly old man who gave me a brief overview of the building around me. Found in the aptly named Cathedral Quarter of the city, St. Anne’s (sometimes known as Belfast Cathedral), is a Church of Ireland Cathedral (the second largest denomination in all of Ireland) and was completed in 1904. The Cathedral is supported by Ireland’s largest Celtic cross on the North facing exterior; this is just one of many of the cathedral’s impressive architectural features.
Regardless of your personal beliefs, the cathedral and its innards are artworks made of stone, glass and gold. From the Celtic cross to the grand pipe organ (the largest in Northern Ireland), the spire of hope to the mosaics including one of St. Patrick bringing Christianity to Ireland, and the cathedral’s numerous stained glass windows depicting figures from the Old Testament; wherever you look your eye will be caught by a fascinating sight.
St.Patrick's Mosaic Inside St. Anne's
The cathedral consists of the alter at its focal point with the traditional aisles of benches with numerous small chapels along both of the main walls. The Chapel of the Holy Spirit features the mosaic of Saint Patrick at its entrance, as well as mosaics within featuring four Seraphim in silver and gold. The Military Chapel of Remembrance honours those of the Royal Irish Regiment who fell during D-Day with their regimental banners donning the wall. To the right, beneath the organ, is the chapel of unity. As the name suggests, the chapel promotes unity and hosts individuals on either side of the catholic-protestant divide with the aim of reaching a greater mutual understanding between both communities.
As well as the chapels, the cathedral features a baptistery which, of course, is used to indoctrinate people into the Christian Church. It contains a font built of marble sourced from across all of Ireland and a mosaic glass dome comprising of 150,000 glass pieces to depicting creation emanating from God’s hand. To the back of the cathedral, behind the altar, the main stained glass window depicts the Good Samaritan and is from the former Church of St. Anne.
St. Anne’s Cathedral is must-visit if you’re in the city centre due to its grandeur and sense of wonderment. Take a leisurely walk around or just sit back and take it all in. If you have any questions about the building while you are there, there should be someone on hand who’ll have some answers. Tours are available if you’d like a more in depth look at the Cathedral.
Words & Images by John Temke