Mosaic in St. Gabriel’s Church
The Via Dolorosa in Dublin.
Your diamonds are not in far distant mountains or in yonder seas; they are in your own backyard, if you but dig for them.
While out for a walk recently I was reminded of Russell Cornwell’s Acres Of Diamonds, the inspirational story about the farmer who leaves his farm and takes off in search of his fortune, travelling throughout the world. He never finds the fortune and dies destitute. Eventually the farmer who bought his farm works day and night on the parched earth and one day while digging he unearths a diamond mine; literally an acre of diamonds.
I unearthed my treasure quite close to home last Wednesday.
While out walking, I decided to take refuge from an unexpected downpour in St Gabriel’s church in Clontarf. Entering through the church door, the rain stopped as suddenly as it had begun, and the sun came out. Standing at the back of the church the rays of spring sunshine beamed through the windows and reflected on the most magnificent mosaic I had ever seen emblazoned on the wall.
The mosaic depicted The Stations of the Cross. The shafts of light radiated on the gold leaf tiles, as if the sun was blazing down on the Jerusalem landscape itself. I was transported to another time, another place, a beautiful space. The little mosaic tiles brought the eastern landscape alive, purple for the hillside, white for the buildings, gold for the sky, and each tiny tile made up the Easter story. I was mesmerised.
I made my way to the first station. JESUS IS CONDEMNED TO DEATH. I began to follow His journey. As I walked from station to station, I felt I was walking on the Via Dolorosa in Old Jerusalem. By the time I reached the twelfth station, JESUS DIES ON THE CROSS, the sun had vanished, and the gold had lost a little of its glow, the landscape had dimmed and turned a shade of blue-black, as I imagine it did on that fateful Friday.
Later, while speaking to the sacristan, he told me that the mosaic was commissioned and created in Italy and transported to Ireland. The sky was made of pure gold leaf and each station was a single completed piece.
St. Gabriel’s is the second largest church in Dublin, and holds a hidden treasure and is well worth a visit.
Eithne Reynolds 2011