Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Morning at the Abbey

I couldn't help myself.  This morning, when I saw the tour director, I said, "You know Bono and Jon Bon Jovi are two different dudes, right?"  She did, and asked if she got it wrong yesterday.  (Er, yeah.)  All very casual and laughing and stuff.  Good.

Then, later, she talked about an Irish play that won some "Oliver" awards in London.  You know, those acting awards named after that great British Actor, Laurence Oliver.  :::facepalm:::

OK, so, this morning, we drove off to one Kylemore Abbey.  Benedictine Abbey, run as a girls' school by the local nuns for a number of years.  Interesting, but not really impressive.  I was actually most impressed by the mini-cathedral on the premises.

See, in the pre-Abbey days, the place was owned by some ... let's just say rich dude.  And when his wife passed away at a relatively young age, he was devastated, and wanted to build a cathedral to honor her memory.  By cathedral standards, it is pretty tiny.  By memorial standards, it's quite impressive.

Now, you have to realize that I'm coming at this from a non-Catholic, indeed, non-Christian perspective.  Which is to say that, as a general rule, I can appreciate cathedrals from an architectural or artistic standpoint, but they don't do much for me from a religious point of view.  I mean, I have respect for the faith and the practitioners thereof, but a deeply religious place for a faith that isn't mine doesn't really move me spiritually -- if anything, I feel a little uncomfortable in there, in that the place wasn't meant to speak to me.

That said, I really dug this little cathedral.  While it is definitely a house of prayer, it is also a celebration a man's love for his wife, and that really comes through.  It's very light in there.

The marble columns, by the way, are gorgeous.

There's only one stained-glass window in the place, and it's the Virtues.

Instead of gargoyles on the outside, the figures are all angels.

It doesn't emphasize the darker elements of religion.  It isn't about saints who were martyred for their faith or Jesus' suffering (although, yes, there's a crucifix).  It's more of a beautiful tribute to someone's life and the gentler elements of faith, cherishing and celebrating the happiness of a life too short.  It was a very sweet, special place.  Glad I saw it.

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