Call for Papal visit to Longford gathers momentum

The Holy Family painting that somehow survived the 1,000 degree heat which cracked nearby marble and limestone pillars... Could this be the reason for Pope Francis to visit Longford? Photo: Tiernan Dolan
News that Pope Francis may visit Ireland when the World Meeting of Families is held here in 2018 has led to calls for the Pope to visit Longford.

News that Pope Francis may visit Ireland when the World Meeting of Families is held here in 2018 has led to calls for the Pope to visit Longford.

The proposal has been gathering momentum online in recent days following a post on the St Mel’s Cathedral Restoration Facebook page.

The tentative campaign started after the Pope announced on Sunday that Ireland would be the location for next World Meeting of Families. It is hoped that he will come to Ireland for the conference and visit different parts of the country, including Northern Ireland.

But now there are hopes that the Pope would also visit St Mel’s Cathedral to inspect the greatest modern church restoration work in Europe.

Community activist and local photographer Tiernan Dolan points out that there could be a symbolic link between the World Meeting of Families and the picture of the Holy Family that miraculously survived the Cathedral fire.

“It could be a symbol of the conference,” Tiernan told the Leader.

“After all it survived the fire,” he said, adding that it could be held up as a symbol of the survival of the family.

Another potential connection is the strong links between the Pope’s native Argentina and Longford and Westmeath. Many people from this part of the world emigrated to Argentina in the late 19th and early 20th century. Today, the vibrant Longford-Westmeath Argentina Society promotes links between the midlands counties and Argentina.