A Great Place to Visit

Suggested highlights:

The unique and beautiful Spire of Hope – a solution to Belfast Cathedral’s sinking problem

The Tomb of Lord Carson, a hero of Ulster Protestants, and the ONLY person buried in St Anne’s

A different type of sinking, the hand-crafted Titanic Pall represents a stunning memorial to those who died on the ill-fated ship

An inspirational Prayer Book handwritten on rice paper in a Korean PoW camp, one of the highlights of our Regimental Chapel

Our Baptistry roof is composed of 150,000 pieces of glass and tells the story of the Creation.

Our genuine Coventry Cross of Nails, a true symbol of peace and reconciliation

The Spire of Hope

Belfast Cathedral is sinking into the soft grey mud, silt and sand known as Belfast ‘sleech’ on which St Anne’s is built! Take a look up the central aisle and you will see the undulations in the marble floor!

These soft foundations ruled out the building of any form of spire or bell tower as the additional weight would aggravate subsidence. And so the Cathedral decided to do things a little differently!

In 2004 a competition was held seeking ideas for some form of lightweight spire and 15 exciting and innovative concept design proposals were received from young architects all over Ireland. The winning design was submitted by Colin Conn and Robert Jamison of Box Architects. The spire was crafted in Zurich. It cost almost £1 million and was finally in place in April 2007.

As there were many signs of progress in the redevelopment of Belfast City at that time, the Cathedral Board decided this glittering new addition should be named the ‘Spire of Hope.’

The Spire is erected where the central axis of the North-South transcepts crosses the central East-West axis – the line from the altar to the Great West Doors. It rises some 250 feet or 80 metres above ground level and is illuminated at night, adding to the Belfast skyline. The portion of the Spire visible is equal in height to the Celtic Cross – the largest Celtic Cross in Ireland
The Spire enters the Cathedral through a glass platform and standing in the Choir stalls visitors can look up the Spire to the heavens.

Four fins locate the Spire of Hope centrally in the recess above the choir stalls and connect it to the fabric of the Cathedral building. Made in stainless steel, the fins are polished to enable them to fade against the sky.

Above all else the Spire of Hope is a witness to God’s love for the city and the wider community it serves.

Watch a YouTube video on the erection of the Spire of Hope –

Tomb of Lord Carson

Unlike most Cathedrals, there is only one Tomb in the Cathedral – that of Lord Carson of Duncairn, Carson was born in February 1854 in Dublin. Trained as a barrister, Carson led the anti-Home Rule movement in Westminster where he stood as a Member of Parliament. A natural leader, Carson came to dominate the Unionist cause in Ulster.
During the war, Carson was brought into office by both Asquith and Lloyd George. He was made Attorney-General in 1915; First Lord of the Admiralty in 1916 and member of the War Cabinet from 1917 to 1918. Carson, who had been knighted in 1896, was made a baron in 1921 and in the same year became Lord of Appeal in Ordinary – a position he held until 1929. Carson died in October 1935. He was buried here by authority of a special Act of Parliament.

The Tomb is railed in bronze and marked by a massive but simple granite stone from the Mourne Mountains bearing the one word ‘Carson.’ A Memorial Plaque has been placed on the wall above.

At the funeral service, earth from each of the Six Counties of Ulster was strewn on the coffin, and subsequently the handsome silver Bowl which had contained this earth was presented to the Cathedral for use at baptismal services.

Titanic Pall

The 1,517 lives lost in the tragic sinking of the Titanic, built here in Belfast, are commemorated in a beautiful hand-crafted funeral pall which was dedicated in St Anne’s Cathedral a century after the disaster.

The pall, made of 100 per cent Merino felt, is backed with Irish linen and dyed an indigo blue, evoking an image of the midnight sea in which the Titanic finally came to rest.

This stunning memorial to those who died when the historic ship hit an iceberg in April 1912 has been made by Helen O’Hare and Wilma Kirkpatrick, textile artists at the University of Ulster. The 12ft X 8ft pall was the gift of the Friends of St Anne’s Cathedral, and it was dedicated on April 15 2012.

A large central cross is fashioned from lots of tiny crosses and hundreds more of these crosses, in different sizes and shapes, each individually stitched in silk, rayon, metallic and cotton threads, fall away towards the velvet rimmed edges of the pall, symbolic of lost lives sinking into the dark ocean.

The theme of the lost lives was inspired by Philip Hammond’s new Requiem for the Lost Souls of the Titanic which was performed for the first time in the Cathedral on April 14 2012.

A funeral pall has a cross in the middle and the background is normally violet, but the Titanic Pall picks up some themes from that fateful voyage, namely the midnight sea. The silver and white crosses of different sizes create the impression they are falling into the water. Set among these are more than 1,500 gold crosses and a number of Stars of David – each representing a lost life.

“This is a very special piece of stunning needlework that people will travel to see – from the central cross that sits like lace on water, to its rich velvet border, rippling Irish linen lining and the felt pierced with crosses on a restless indigo sea.” – Dean John Mann

The Regimental Chapel

The Chapel, consecrated on the anniversary of D-Day in 1981, contains many important historical artefacts including Books of Remembrance, the font, lectern, and chairs presented by families in remembrance of soldiers who had lost their lives.

Among the Colours laid up in the Chapel are the last stands of Colours presented to 1st Bn Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers by HRH the Duke of Gloucester in Kenya in 1962 and 1st Bn The Royal Irish Fusiliers by Field Marshal Sir Gerald Templer in Germany in 1963.

One of the most important artefacts is a Book of Prayers written on rice-paper by a prisoner of war in Korea and presented to Capt James Majury, a gift from the prisoners who had found comfort in the services he had held for them during their captivity in 1952-53.

It was this same James Majury who in 1976, as Major General and Colonel of The Royal Irish Rangers, set in motion plans to establish a Regimental Chapel in Belfast, a Chapel in St Anne’s which continues to remember those who served in the past and continue to serve today.

The Baptistry

The mosaic roof of the Baptistery is of exceptional interest, being a magnificent example of art peculiarly adapted to the Romanesque style of architecture. Its emphasis is on space, both on the walls and domed roof. The Roof itself is composed of 150,000 pieces of glass representing Creation and symbolising Earth, Fire, and Water and overall is the hand of the Creator raised in Blessing.
The Font is fashioned out of marble taken from various parts of Ireland; its colouring is symbolic of the Sacrament of Baptism. The base is of black marble, representing sin. The columns are of red marble, representing Christ’s saving blood shed on Calvary, therefore penitence. The bowl is of white alabaster, representing new life and re-birth after the sacrament of baptism (grace).

The Coventry Cross of Nails

St Anne’s Cathedral narrowly avoided damage during the Belfast Blitz of spring 1941,as German bombers targeted the city’s factories and shipyards. Cathedrals in other cities were less fortunate. Only months earlier, in November 1940, the 600-year-old cathedral in the centre of Coventry, in the West Midlands, had been reduced to ruins by German bombers.

The morning after the bombing, a priest – the Rev Arthur Wales walked through the rubble of Coventry Cathedral and came across several large, medieval carpenters’ nails that had come down with the beams from the roof. He picked up three and with some wire, bound them together in the shape of a cross. Later he had the nails welded and plated. This was the first Cross of Nails and it came to stand for both suffering and the hope of survival.

Over 100 more crosses were made in the course of the following years, all with nails salvaged from the rubble. They were given as symbols of peace and reconciliation to other cathedrals and churches and also to prisons and schools. Together these places form a group known as the Community of the Cross of Nails. Poignantly, some of the very first
Crosses of Nails were given to cathedrals in Dresden, Berlin and Kiel, German cities damaged by Allied bombing. These gifts represented a new partnership of peace and trust between the cities and Coventry.

In 1958, whilst at the Lambeth Conference, Bishop Cyril accepted one of the crosses for
St Anne’s. The nails are 600-years-old, making the Cross of Nails the oldest object in this cathedral.

Additional possibilities include:
The largest Celtic Cross in Ireland
The Labyrinth

Social Media
Copyright © 2017 Belfast Cathedral
An MCC site