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Eucharistic Congress - A description PDF Print E-mail

DUBLIN 20-26 June 1932

I was very moved when I read about the Eucharistic Congress and how alive the faith of the people of Ireland seemed to be.

In the first part of this report I have tried to give you some idea of the spectacle that was the Congress. I have used photographs taken from 'The Pictorial Record of the thirty-first International Eucharistic Congress' prepared by Veritas in response to public demand.

In the second part I have used actual reports from national/international newspapers of the day to let you know exactly what happened.

Breda Waterson

The thirty first International Eucharistic Congress was held in Dublin from 20-26 June 1932.

Pope Pius XI was represented by the Papal Legate, His Eminence Lorenzo Cardinal Lauri. His Grace the Archbishop of Dublin, Primate of Ireland, Most Rev Edward J Byrne was Sponsor of the Congress. His Excellency Monsignor Heylen, Bishop of Namur, was the President of the Permanent Committee of the International Eucharistic Congress.

His Eminence Joseph Cardinal MacRory, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland received the visiting dignitaries.

Ten Cardinals from Boston, Westminster, Philadelphia, New York, Malines, Poland, Paris, Palermo, Italy and the Vatican attended. About one hundred and sixty Archbishops were present. Also attending were the Bishops of Cloyne, Clogher, Kilmore, Killaloe, Achonry, Killala, Cork, Dromore, Ferns, Galway, Elphin, Raphoe, Limerick, Clonfert, Cloyne, Derry, Ardagh, Kerry, Kildare and Leighlin, Ossory, Meath and Down and Connor was represented by the Most Rev D Mageean.

The Papal Legate travelled by ship arriving in Dun Laoghaire on Monday 20 June. He was escorted into the harbour by aeroplanes flying in the shape of a Cross.

After blessing the military guard of honour at Dun Laoghaire he was led by a Cavalry Guard of Honour into Dublin.

In preparation for the visit people throughout all areas of Dublin had decorated their houses with flowers, bunting and flags. Many other towns in Ireland were also decorated and many beautiful arches were said to have been erected in Derry.

The Lord Mayor’s Heralds announced the approach of the Papal Legate who was welcomed at the City Gates by the Lord Mayor. He had travelled in procession from Dun Laoghaire to Dublin in the Lord Mayor’s Coach.

Thousands had gathered along the route - the children put at the front of the crowd. This included a group of girls from the Blind Asylum standing in front of a multitude which they could not see, turning their sightless eyes towards the procession.

The next day ten thousand people attended the Garden Party in honour of the Papal Legate. He addressed the crowd and then went among the guests.

His Excellency the Governor-General was escorted by the Very Rev Administrator of the Pro Cathedral, Fr Sheehan to the Pro Cathedral for the Solemn Opening of the Congress. The Papal Legate then arrived in procession.

The main celebrations were held in Pheonix Park – the Men’s meeting,

the Women’s meeting

and the Children’s Day.

It is said that eighty thousand children were present on that day.

At the Mass on Sunday 26 June the Procession of Dignitaries was led across a wooden walkway on their way to the altar.

Aerial view of altar taken from
10,000 ft

They were followed by President de Valera and the Executive Council. Officers of the Saorstát Army provided a Guard of Honour at the Mass. Thousands were present in the Park but thousands also lined the route listening as loudspeakers broadcast the Mass. Count John McCormack’s voice rang out, singing ‘Panis Angelicus’. At the Consecration, troops on the altar steps whipped out their swords to present arms and every soldier guarding the barricades in the Dublin streets sprang to attention and presented arms.

At the end of Mass the words ‘Attention! Attention! The Holy Father will now speak to you’ were proclaimed in English and Latin. Then the Pope’s voice ringing out clearly was heard by the multitude.

The Pope spoke in Latin and expressed his joy at participating directly with those present. The Pope then imparted the Apostolic Blessing. The speech lasted five minutes.

After Mass the Blessed Sacrament was carried in procession from Pheonix Park, along the quays to O’Connell Bridge for a final Benediction. A quarter of a million men marched in the procession, headed by the foreign section with their colourful banners. They were followed by thousands of woman.

From 3 30pm to 6 o’clock the procession marched unbroken to its destination.

An altar had been built on O’Connell Bridge.


Thousands thronged the streets around and from every vantage point. After the ‘Tantum Ego’ had been sung the Papal Legate ascended the altar steps and took the Monstrance in his hands. In the hush of that indescribable moment, every head in sight bent low. Then the ‘Divine Praises’ welled up from a million or more throats. The last one seemed to die slowly away.

The Congress was over!


This picture of Benediction on O'Connell Bridge was taken from the newspaper 'ALIVE' on 5 November 2005.


The 75th anniversary of the Congress was in 2007

The Eucharistic Congress of 2008 was held in Quebec from Sunday 15 June to 22 June. A parallel Eucharistic Congress is being held in Dublin at the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, Bachelors Walk, Dublin 1. The opening Mass and Ceremony was on Sunday 15 June at 3pm with the main Celebrant Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza (Apostolic Nuncio). The Homilist and Congress Leader was Fr Sebastian Luistro sss

Full programme details available from the Chapel - 003531 872 4597

(Taken from'The Irish Catholic', June 5, 2008)


The next International Eucharistic Congress will again be held in Dublin in June 2010.  For further details go to

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