Saint Mary’s Oratory is at the heart of the prayer life of seminarians. Adjacent to their living quarters, it is where the seminarians and the College community attend the daily celebration of the Eucharist and gather for morning and evening prayer.
Saint Mary’s Oratory was restored for the new Millennium of 2,000 to celebrate the great jubilee of the Lord’s birth. The new design involved the alignment of all major liturgical points (tabernacle, celebrant’s chair, altar, ambo and organ) along the spine of the east-west axis. This allows the liturgy to occupy the central worship space, with the private devotional area and tabernacle located on the western wall.
We are indebted to Saint Joseph’s Young Priests Society for their help with this project.
Above the tabernacle (by Benedict Tutty), a tapestry of the Transfiguration (by Patrick Pye) occupies the wall between the two stained glass windows (by Earley Studios), and an abstract painting on canvas (by Kim En Joong) surrounds the Tabernacle. This ensemble, designed by the late Richard Hurley, creates an explosion of colour on the western wall, and presents a strong and prayerful focus, outside of the Eucharistic area.
Features of Saint Mary’s Oratory:
Transfiguration Tapestry – Patrick Pye – 1999
Stained Glass by Earley & Co Studios of Camden Street – 1939
Tabernacle & Cross – Benedict Tutty OSB – 1967
Our Lady of the Mantle, reaching out to a child of the world; – Imogen Stuart – 1999
All other wood – Ken Thompson
Architect – Richard Hurley (1932 – 2011)
“I have known Richard Hurley for a very long time. He was a truly an inspirational man, a man of deep faith and integrity. He was a man who has left a great legacy of fine work in the design of churches and other buildings of note. Among his writings is the beautifully illustrated Irish Church Architecture. We have good reason to be grateful that part of his legacy will enrich us”.
+ Colm O’Reilly
Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois
Trustee of Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth
21 December 2011
Saint Mary’s Oratory is in the quadrangle designed by A W Pugin in the middle of the 1800’s. At that time, this space was used as a study hall. However, a disastrous fire in 1879 destroyed this portion of the College and when rebuilt it was turned into Saint Mary’s Oratory for the increasing number of students. This accounts for the plaster vaulting and panelled ceiling – quite different from what Pugin would have built thirty years before. Following Vatican II in the 1960’s, a poor modification was made, moving the altar to the centre of the long north wall. This had the effect of dividing the community in two, and was not satisfactory for the celebrant or the members of the congregation.
Saint Mary’s Oratory before the 1960’s modifications.