The governance of the Honan Chapel


In 1916 the Honan Chapel was variously described as the Honan Hostel Chapel and the Collegiate Church (or Chapel) of St. Finn Barr. The Honan Hostel was an incorporated charity founded under royal charter on 5th January 1915 and the Honan Chapel was part of this. The board of governors was made up of bishops, members of University College Cork staff and representatives of the Catholic laity and clergy in Munster. The bishop of Cork was appointed as the 'visitor'. Rev. Sir John Robert O'Connell was made a life member of the board. This elaborate form of chapel governance remains unchanged.

Sacred vessels and vestment colours used in liturgy of the Honan Chapel

All of the objects in the Honan Collection were created for a liturgical purpose. The Honan Chapel was consecrated as a Roman Catholic church on 5th November 1916. At that time, Mass was celebrated on the high altar.

The Mass is a sacramental re-presentation of Christ's Sacrifice of Calvary, by which he atoned for the sins of humanity once and for all. The priest faced toward the East - in the direction of the rising sun, a natural symbol of the Risen Christ who will come again in glory to be with His Church forever. Altar cards, inscribed with prayers for Mass were placed on the altar. The liturgical mass book, containing the text of the Masses, called a missal was also placed on the altar during Mass. During Mass or Benediction incense was burned as a sign of submission, adoration and thanksgiving. Near the altar, on the credence or in a small niche, were placed the ampullas or cruets containing the wine and water used in the consecration at Mass, and also a manuterge or small towel used by the priest to dry his hands before the consecration. During the celebration of the Mass the priest needs two sacred vessels: the paten, a small plate in gold or gilded silver, on which the Sacred Host is laid, and the chalice, also made from gold or gilded silver out of respect for the Precious Blood. In 1916, when the priest went to the altar to celebrate Mass he carried the chalice, covered with the chalice veil, a small silk cloth of the same colour as the vestments. On the veil the burse was laid, containing a linen cloth, the corporal, which was spread out by the priest in the middle of the altar. After the consecration the chalice, containing the Precious Blood, rested on the corporal. During the Offertory the chalice veil was removed and the priest took the purificator (used to wipe the chalice before the Offertory and after the Communion). In the Honan Chapel, the monstrance was used at the exposition, adoration and benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. The ciborium is a vessel, larger than the chalice and shut with a lid. In this vessel the Sacred Hosts are kept which are used for giving Holy Communion.

Colours of vestments used in the Honan Chapel

In the Catholic Church, the vestments of a priest are understood as having an allegorical meaning.

The amice was a white linen cloth which covered the neck and shoulders. It signified trust in Jesus Christ. It recalled the cloth which the soldiers blindfolded Christ to mock and insult Him during the Passion. The alb, a long white linen robe, was worn as a sign of the purity of heart, and represented the white robe of mockery, with which Herod clothed Christ to revile Him as a fool. The girdle, a white cord with which the alb was bound round the waist, was an emblem of purity. The maniple, worn on the left arm, signified the fruit of good works, as a reward for struggle: the priest was expected to neither fear suffering nor labour. The stole hung around the neck and was crossed over the breast. It represented the spiritual powers and dignity of the priest. Together, girdle, stole and maniple represented the cords wherewith Jesus was bound, and the rod with which He was beaten. The chasuble was worn as the emblem of the priest's love for Christ. This robe recalled the purple robe with which Christ was clothed and mocked, while he was crowned with thorns during the Passion.

The ecclesiastical colours speak the language of faith and love as enacted through the liturgy. The Willian Egan & Sons set (1916) are in the following colours: white, red, green, violet and black. The cloth of gold, in the Honan Chapel Collection, was worn on great solemnities instead of green, white or red. Their design is inspired by the Book of Kells (Trinity College, Dublin). The Mary Barry set (1988) are in the following colours: white, red, green and violet. The designs are abstract inspired by the colours cast by the stained glass windows in the chapel.

The white chasuble signifies the joy and purity of the soul. This white vestment is the garment of peace. White is used in the Offices and Masses during the Easter and Christmas seasons; also on celebrations of the Lord other than of his Passion, of the Blessed Virgin Mary, of the Holy Angels and of Saints who were not Martyrs.

The red chasuble, symbolizing fire and blood, is used on Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion and on Good Friday, on Pentecost Sunday, and on celebrations of Martyr Saints.

The green chasuble signifies hope. Green is used in the Offices and Masses of Ordinary Time.

The violet chasuble signifies humility and penitence. In the Honan Chapel, violet or purple is used in Advent and Lent.

The black chasuble signifies mourning and sadness. It was worn on Good Friday when the Church mourns the death of Christ. It was worn for Masses for the Dead and on All Souls' Day, 2nd November. In the Honan Chapel, the black chasuble was also worn for the annual Founders' Day Mass, which took place in the third week of October, and was the ceremonial memorial for the Honan family.