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The Mace at St. Patrick’s Basilica

The Mace at St. Patrick’s Basilica
By Don Pidgeon

Symbols are described as emblems or objects to represent something. The mace is a staff used as a symbol of authority carried by a person in ceremonial processions. At St. Patrick’s Basilica, here in Montreal, the mace is known as the “verge”. (A rod, wand or staff carried as an emblem of authority or office.) The person carrying the “verge” is the Verger, an acolyte-usher who walks in front of the religious procession.

The St. Patrick’s “verge” leads the procession at the Green Mass, which is held on the Sunday of the St. Patrick’s parade. It has been carried by a member of the Knights of Columbus 4th Degree, a Sir Knight.

There is little information known about the “verge” at St. Patrick’s, but the symbol of a crown on the verge would indicate a period prior to 1916, the Easter Rebellion in Ireland.

The symbol of the people of Ireland is the “Shamrock” and inside St. Patrick’s Basilica, on the sidewalls, every second panel has the shamrock. On the adjacent panels there is the Fleur de Lys. These two symbols represent the connection and support between the two cultures of French and Irish in Quebec.

The Irish celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Montreal with an open invitation to all cultures and heritages that have come to build a better world through sharing and caring.

Happy St. Patrick’s.

Don Pidgeon, Historian
March 2010

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