Silver Reliquary – portion of the True Cross

This is an important Reliquary of Silver and bears the inscription: ‘Ista Particula Sacratissime Crucis Pertinent Ad Ecclesiam Cathedralem Sanctissime Trinitatis Waterfordie HIS MAR 1620’

Translation: ‘This particle of the Most Holy Cross belongs to the Cathedral Church of The Most Holy Trinity Waterford Jesus Mary 1620’

The Case or Shrine, in the shape of an Archiepiscopal Cross, measures nearly 9 inches by 2.5 inches. In its bed within the shrine rests the particle of Sacred Wood in the form of a double-armed Cross. On one of the silver clips at the side is an inscription, obviously very old: ‘Lignum de Vera Cruce’ (Wood of the True Cross). There is no evidence as to the provenance of this relic. It certainly was revered in Waterford long before the Reformation of the 16th century. One writer suggests that it might perhaps have been a companion of the Relic in Holy Cross Abbey and have come from King Muircheartach O’Brien of Munster who had received it from Pope Paschal II (1099 –1118). King Muircheartach O’Brien was closely involved in the appointment of Waterford’s first Bishop in the 11th century.

During the early days of the 18th century when Bishop Richard Pierse was forced to go into exile he is reputed to have entrusted the Sacred Relic to the Aylward Family of Cross in Co. Waterford. A member of this family, on her death, passed it on to Brother Joseph Murphy of Mount Sion in 1840. Brother Murphy was uncle to Margaret Aylward, founder of the Holy Faith Congregation. In the present century Mount Sion returned the relic to the Cathedral Parish.