Saints and Stones: Down Cathedral/St. Patrick's Grave

Cathedral Hill in Down has been a focus of Christian worship for almost as long as Christianity has been in Ireland. The Church of Ireland's Down Cathedral, the Cathedral Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, stands on the site of a Benedictine Monastery built in 1183.

In the Early Christian period, Down was the seat of the kings of the Dal Fiatach, the Irish people who occupied the southeast of modern County Down. The first bishops would have been members of this family and they would not have exercised any jurisdiction beyond their own territory. The year 753 A.D. marks the earliest reference to the death of an Abbot of Down. From this date onwards we can trace a fairly complete succession of abbots and bishops of the Celtic Monastery that occupied the Hill. The monastery was plundered by Vikings on a number of occasions and by 1016 there was a stone church and round tower. It is an ancient ecclesiastical site with a church dedicated to the Holy Trinity recorded in the 12th Century. In 1124, St Malachy became Bishop of Down, and set about repairing and enlarging the Cathedral. In 1177, John de Courcy, the Norman conqueror of Ulster, brought in Benedictine monks and expelled Augustinian monks settled there by St Malachy. By 1220 this building was in ruins

St. Patrick, the Apostle of Ireland, was buried here, most likely somewhere under the present church. A stone placed in the graveyard in 1900 commemorates the fact that Patrick's burial place is on the hill. One cannot be certain of the exact spot of his burial, but the Memorial Stone, a slab of granite from the nearby Mourne Mountains, traditionally marks his grave. Crosses from the 9th, 10th and 12th Centuries are preserved in the Cathedral. Outside the east end of the Cathedral stands a weathered high cross made of granite, dating from the 10th or 11th Centuries, which used to stand in the center of Downpatrick.

About Down Cathedral/St. Patrick's Grave

Down Cathedral
Wikipedia: Down Cathedral
Northern Ireland Tourist Board: Down Cathedral and Saint Patrick's Grave
Northern Ireland Tourist Board: St. Patrick's Country (pdf)
New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Patrick
Wikipedia: Saint Patrick
Wikipedia: Augustinians
Wikipedia: Benedictines

Journey to Down Cathedral/St. Patrick's Grave

Down Cathedral, the Church of Ireland's Cathedral Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, is located in the town of Downpatrick in County Down in Northern Ireland. It stands on English Street on Cathedral Hill overlooking the town. St. Patrick's grave is located in the adjacent graveyard.

Map Reference: J4844

Visitors Information

Visitors information for Down Cathedral may be found at the Down Cathedral website. General tourist information may be found at the Discover Northern Ireland: County Down website.

Additional Photos of Down Cathedral/St. Patrick's Grave

Down Cathedral
Down Cathedral
Down Cathedral
Down Cathedral
Down Cathedral Interior Ceiling
Down Cathedral Altar
St. Patrick Stained-Glass Window, Down Cathedral
High Cross, Down Cathedral
Close-Up of High Cross, Down Cathedral
Directional Sign for St. Patrick's Grave, Down Cathedral
St. Patrick's Gravesite Memorial Stone, Down Cathedral
Three Saints Burial Plaque, Down Cathedral
Close-Up of St. Patrick's Gravesite Memorial Stone, Down Cathedral
Down Cathedral and the Mound of Down from Inch Abbey Grounds

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