A large number of bishops, priests and people attended reopening celebrations at the Cathedral of the Assumption in Thurles, Co Tipperary yesterday. Built on an ancient Christian site, the original building of the Cathedral was undertaken by Archbishop Patrick Leahy in 1865. It was solemnly dedicated by Archbishop Thomas Croke on 22 June 1879. Pope Pius IX donated some ancient marble to the cathedral which has many significant architectural and artistic features. The design was influenced by that of the 12th Century cathedral of Pisa in Italy, and it also reflects a continuity with the original cathedral of the Archdiocese, Cormac's Chapel on the Rock of Cashel. Major renovation work was undertaken in the late 1940s and again in 1979 in preparation for the celebration of the Centenary of the cathedral. A statement says: "The present renovation, which includes a new baptismal font by the Dublin liturgical artist Mark Ryan, represents the happy outcome of careful planning, good workmanship, expert advice and the generous cooperation and support of the people of Thurles and the entire Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly. During his homily, the Most Reverend Dermot Clifford, Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, spoke of the long history of the Christian faith in Ireland and expressed his hope for the future of the church. He said: "It is noteworthy that, despite the decline in attendance, a very recent survey reported that 90% of people in Ireland over 18 believe that Jesus is the son of God and that 75% believe that the bread and wine are changed into the body and blood of Jesus Christ at the Consecration. This shows that faith in the Real Presence is still embedded in the psyche of our people even among those who no longer come to Mass. This and other findings in that survey give ground for hope." Source: Communications Office, Irish Bishops Conference
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