Rare glimpse of church history as Ferns archives are opened
The people of Wexford were given a rare glimpse of church history when the Diocese of Ferns History and Archives Commission at St Peter's College opened its historical archives to the public at a launch in the College by Minister for Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin last Tuesday night.
This is the first time the historical archives have been made available to researchers, historians and individuals who are interested in the county's church history, which contains some documents never before made public.
The archive, which is held in the renovated Diocesan History and Archive Commission facility on the campus of St. Peter's College, Wexford, has among its collection a book printed in 1547 and also contains thousands of important collections of papers, incunabula and artefacts, including:
• The Hore Manuscripts
• Papal Bulls of Episcopal appointments (parchment with Papal Seals)
• Documents relating to all post-Reformation Bishops
• Documents and letters relating to all foundations in the Diocese of Ferns
• The Grattan-Flood, Kehoe and O'Donovan collections
• Various photographs, vestments, bibles, parish histories and assorted books
The Committee comprised of diocesan clergy, archivists and historians have been working on the project for a number of years.
Commenting on the historical archive, Fr Aidan Jones, Chairman of the History and Archives Commission said that the many of the of the manuscripts are irreplaceable and the archives is an unique repository as thousands of records relating to County Wexford, copied by Herbert and Philip Hore, which were destroyed in the Four Courts Fire during the Civil War, will be made available to view".
The newly-created central Diocesan Library at St. Peter's College, Wexford, forms part of the new Historical Archive of Ferns Diocese which is shortly to be opened in its new location.
The collections constituting the present library are drawn mainly from the stocks of the former House of Missions (founded 1866, its library considered as Bibliotheca major Episcopalis), the formers College Seminary, Senior and Junior, and from the books of individual Bishops and clergy. There is an abundance of volumes on Sacred Scripture, Theology, Liturgy, Church History, Canon Law, Liturgy and Homiletics, most of them predating the Second Vatican Council. The bulk of the material housed in this new premises consists naturally enough of ecclesiastical, religious and spiritual literature. The library holds also a large number of volumes on Irish History, literature, culture, art and architecture. Significantly there is a remarkable supply of early printings of theological works from the 1600s and 1700s, all in the Latin language and published on the Continent. The oldest volume, a Concordance of the Bible, was published in Lyons in 1530. Of major interest also will be a few 18th century Dublin publications on religious topics and in particular a Dublin printing of the Roman Missal by Catholic publisher Patrick Wogan in 1777. The Hore Manuscripts contain records of County Wexford which were extracted from the original records in the Public Record Office between 1835 and 1900 by Herbert and Philip Hore and comprise thousands of records in leather bound volumes. Many of them are atlas and elephant folio size. They are a unique record due to the loss of the original records in the Four Courts during the Civil War.