Bishop of Waterford and Lismore, Alphonsus Cullinan celebrated Mass on the ancient monastic site of St Declan in Ardmore, Co. Waterford yesterday.

In his homily, he encouraged people not to succumb to fear during the outbreak, as the virus claimed its fourth victim in the Republic of Ireland yesterday.

“Do I really believe in Jesus the Saviour in the midst of the global threat from the coronavirus? Can I say with the writer of the psalm in this morning’s liturgy –‘Though I walk in the valley of darkness no evil would I fear for you are with me’ (Psalm 23).”

“As we stand here in Ardmore we can see the great round tower pointing to heaven which can inspire us to think of eternal things and the faith which St. Declan and St. Ita and countless others brought to this part of the world. In our own Diocese it was here, around this holy place, that the name of Jesus Christ was first heard.”

St. Declan is thought to have preceded St. Patrick is bringing the Christian faith to Ireland, organizing the first Christian settlement around the monastery in Ardmore.

Public Masses have been suspended in Ireland until March 29th as the nation tries to curtail the spread of the coronavirus.

Whilst the bishop did allude to heeding the health warnings of authorities, he also called on people to consider their spiritual health.

“Right now in the world there is so much darkness. We are all now experiencing the darkness of fear and confusion. People are rightly worried about their health, very rightly worried. But we must also worry about our spiritual health. What is the state of my soul before God?”

Six people have died from Covid-19 on the island of Ireland, whilst a total of 1,034 cases have been confirmed in the north and south.