"I am what you will be; I was what you are now"
James Rice was Mayor of Waterford City eleven times during the 15th Century. His many terms saw the city blossom and in 1481 he built a chapel to house his tomb in the original Norman cathedral. Since the construction of the current cathedral his tomb, which he shares with his wife Katherine Broun, has been moved on two occasions and has occupied its present position since 1880. It is a fine example of a cadaver monument, depicting the horror of death and the glory of saints. Weather damage has taken its toll down the centuries and made the Latin inscription quite difficult to read. Rice wished that his tomb be a reminder of the briefness of our earthly lives and the transient nature of fame, wealth and power. The tomb displays a badly decayed corpse, crawling with worms and with a frog feasting on the stomach. A section of the inscription reads, ‘I am what you will be; I was what you are now.’ The figures of saints can be seen on the sides of the tomb.
James Rice walked the Camino pilgrimage twice during his lifetime and his tomb became a starting point for Waterford pilgrims as they embarked upon their journey to Santiago di Compostela. The Scallop shell motif of the Camino was added in the 19th century over the reredos and to the lectern.
The cadaver tomb is in Christ Church Cathedral in the Viking Triangle, part of Ireland’s Ancient East.
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