Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna, has visited the monastic site of Clonmacnois, Co Offaly, in the Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois. Cardinal Schönborn is visiting Ireland this week for a special conference on Amoris Laetitia in the Diocese of Limerick.
Following a visit to the Marian Shrine in Knock, County Mayo, the Cardinal and 15 seminarians from the Archdiocese of Vienna travelled to Clonmacnois where they were met by Bishop Francis Duffy and Father Bernard Noonan of the Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois.
The Cardinal was very moved by the connections of Clonmacnois which sent out missionaries to the continent in a “second evangelisation” as he called it.
He commented that the challenge today is to re-evangelise Europe much as the missionaries who were sent out from Clonmacnois did.
Clonmacnois is an early Christian site founded by St. Ciarán in the mid-6th century on the eastern bank of the River Shannon. The site includes the ruins of a cathedral, seven churches (10th -13th century), two round towers, three high crosses and the largest collection of Early Christian grave slabs in Western Europe. The original high crosses and a selection of grave slabs are on display in the visitor centre.
Cardinal Schönborn’s visit to Clonmacnois saw him follow in the footsteps of Pope Saint John Paul II who visited the ancient site during his 1979 visit to Ireland. Speaking about Clonmacnois after returning to Rome, Pope Saint John Paul II said, “I will never forget that place … the ruins of the monastery and churches speak of the life that once pulsated there. Whole generations of Europe owe to them the light of the Gospel. These ruins are still charged with a great mission. They still constitute a challenge.”
Watch a short video here of Cardinal Schönborn leading the Salve Regina in Clonmacnois.