Mass rock

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Sandhill Mass Rock near Dunfanaghy

A Mass rock (Carraig an Aifrinn in Irish) was a rock used as an altar in mid-17th century Ireland as a location for Roman Catholic Mass. Isolated locations were sought to hold religious ceremonies, as observing the Catholic mass was a matter of difficulty and danger at the time as a result of both Cromwell's campaign against the Irish, and the Penal Law of 1695. Bishops were banished and priests had to register to preach under the 1704 Registration Act. Priest hunters were employed to arrest unregistered priests and Presbyterian preachers under an Act of 1709.

In many instances a stone would be taken from a church ruin, and relocated to a rural area, with a simple cross carved on its top. Because the activity was illegal, the services were not scheduled and their occurrence was communicated verbally between parishioners. The practice had waned by the late 17th century, when worship moved to thatched Mass houses. Some of the Mass rock places may have been used for patterns.

Similar stones, known as Mass stones, are found in Scotland. Presbyterians held similar Conventicles and these were also outlawed, even though they were not religious ceremonies.

Sources[edit]

Denis Power (1992). Archaeological Inventory of County Cork, Volume 3: Mid Cork, 9467 ColorBooks. ISBN 0-7076-4933-1