“I am not a Christian but I attend a candle lit midnight mass in Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin on Christmas Eve almost every year. I attend with a little group of Irish friends who are Catholics. I go because I like the tradition and the music and the connection to history.
The church was built in the eleventh century and apart from being a fine old building it is also a fascinating museum. There are medieval lords and ladies lying in extravagantly carved stone coffins in the crypt, and books, written by monks detailing Norman and Viking invasions. It is probably the only church in Ireland which has its own armoury of medieval weapons which a group of monks had once used to hold off a viking attack for almost a week until the High King of Ireland managed to send an army to relieve them. It also has a very famous choir and the music is spectacular. A feature of every Christmas mass is the famous chorus from Handel’s Messiah which was first performed, conducted by the man himself, in 1741 in the same Cathedral.
I suppose there is no doubt that European history is deeply wrapped up in Christian tradition and that applies whether you are a believer or not.”