A 15th century chalice thought to be lost sheds light on the school year mass


Recently, at Catholic high schools and colleges in the Diocese of Arlington, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge celebrated the Mass of the Holy Spirit, marking the start of a new school year with a rite that dates back to the 16th century. On September 1 at the Catholic University of America in Washington, the liturgy featured something even older: a 15th-century chalice that survived the Protestant Reformation, disappeared for centuries, and will be on display in St. -Michel from the university at Maloney Hall. until October.

Bishop Burbidge, a member of the university’s board of trustees, was the principal celebrant at the National Shrine Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, filled with more than 3,000 faculty, staff and students.

“Today is joyful because at this Holy Sacrifice of the Mass we meet Christ Jesus, Our Lord, whose Spirit kindles in us the fire of true joy,” he said in his homily. . “This year, then, may we resolve to pray daily…that the Spirit kindle in us the fire of true joy and that our joy may be complete.”

He also became one of the only priests – and probably the only bishop – to celebrate Mass with a pre-Reformation Irish chalice (circa 1480), one of the few chalices known to have survived efforts to suppress Catholicism which began in Ireland in the 16th century.

The chalice is believed to have disappeared in the mid-1500s after King Henry VIII sought to suppress the practice of Catholicism. It was discovered and sold in the 1930s and then lost again, until it was found in a simple box inside a garden structure.

“Certain soldiers, centuries ago, believed he was ending the Mass by looting this chalice,” said the Dominican father of Aquin Guilbeau, a university chaplain. “Well, his efforts were in vain. The mass continues – even with this same chalice.

The day marked the first Mass of the Holy Spirit for the university’s new president, Peter Kilpatrick. “What a great blessing to start each year with a tradition like this, to come together and reflect as a community before God on the path ahead of us,” he said.

His wife, Nancy, and three students brought the gifts to Mass.

The Irish Chalice has previously made stops at Villanova University and Georgetown Preparatory School in North Bethesda, Maryland. After leaving Catholic University, it will be exhibited at the Irish Cultural Center in Boston, then at the Museum of Irish American Heritage in Albany, NY, before returning. to Ireland.

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