Report to: Development Committee
Subject: Belfast / Switzerland – Christian Heritage Festival
Date: 15th June, 2011
Reporting Officer: Mr. John McGrillen, Director of Development (ext. 3470)
Contact Officer: Mr. Barry Flynn, Democratic Services Officer (ext. 6312)
Relevant Background Information
A request for assistance has been received towards the hosting of a reception in the City Hall to mark a mini-festival which will seek to explore the cultural, tourist and religious linkages between the Belfast Lough area and Saint Gallen in Switzerland.
The year 2012 will mark the 1400th anniversary of the founding by St. Gall of the eponymous St. Gallen Monastery in Switzerland. St. Gall, who was based in the ancient diocese of Bangor, which encompassed the whole Belfast Lough area, was one of a series of Irish monks who travelled to Europe in the 7th century to re-evangelise the continent and to spread the Christian message.
In 612, St Gall, who was a disciple and companion of St. Columbanus, established a hermitage at St. Gallen which would become a world-famous monastery and seat of learning. St. Gallen became a vital centre for the spreading of Christian teaching and today contains one of the richest medieval libraries in the world and has been deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In October, Belfast will host a small festival which will seek to celebrate and explore the shared Christian heritage between the City and St. Gallen. The organisers are hoping to use this festival to raise awareness of the year-long Europe-wide celebrations which will take place throughout 2012. The consortium overseeing the festival consists of representatives of Culturlann MacAdam O’ Fiaich, The Ullans Academy Group, St. Mary’s University College and Fobairt Feirste.
A request for assistance from the Council has been received from the consortium, who will be seeking to host a celebratory event in the City Hall during the week beginning 17th October. This lunchtime event will be attended by approximately 150 guests, together with a number of international dignitaries and invitations will be extended also to the Lord Mayor, the Deputy Lord Mayor and the High Sheriff (Dr. Ian Adamson), together with all Members of the Committee.
It is anticipated that hospitality costs for this event will be in the region of £1100.
The event will help explore and acknowledge the shared Christian heritage of Belfast and promote a wider understanding of the historic linkages between the City and Europe.
Given the potential for promoting the Christian heritage of the City, together with the tourist potential offered through the year of celebrations in 2012, it is recommended that the Committee agrees to provide financial assistance towards hospitality for this event in the sum of £1100.
Should the request for assistance be acceded to, representatives from the Council’s European Unit will liaise with the consortium in the organising of the event.
Key to Abbreviations
UNESCO – United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.