Holy Cross Abbey, County Tipperary

Holy Cross Abbey, County Tipperary

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Holy Cross Abbey is a restored Cistercian monastery in Holycross near Thurles, County Tipperary. Situated on the River Suir, the site takes its name from a relic of the True Cross (or Holyrood). This fragment was brought to Ireland by Queen Isabella of Angouleme (the widow of King John) around 1233. She gifted the relic to the original Cistercian Monastery in Thurles and then rebuilt after which it received its name Holy Cross Abbey.

Over the years, Holy Cross Abbey became known as a place of medieval pilgrimage and during the Reformation, it also became a rallying point for the dispossessed and victims of religious persecution.

The Holyrood relic was last exposed for public veneration in 1632 and following the Cromwellian war, Holy Cross Abbey fell into ruins. After 1740, local people used the roofless ruins as a burial place and in 1880 it became a scheduled national monument – “to be preserved and not used as a place of worship”.

Special legislation in the Dáil on its 50th anniversary, 21st January 1969, enabled Holy Cross abbe to be once again restored as a place of Catholic worship, exceptionally for a national monument. The Sacristan of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican provided an authenticated relic of the Holy Cross, and the emblem of the Jerusalem Cross or Crusader Cross has been restored for the Abbey.

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