Pope will visit a much more secular Ireland
For centuries, the Catholic Church here was not just a part of the life of the people, it ruled much of the life of the country. From how people lived, what they thought, and even ate, was all covered by doctrine. Such obedience to the force of the word that came first from Rome and filtered from pulpit to pew is hard to fathom today.
Inevitably, this relationship would be challenged; tested by new thinking, technology and science. But the paedophile scandals, and their subsequent cover-ups, meant that the Church lost much of its authority.
In 2011, Taoiseach Enda Kenny unleashed an angry tirade on the Vatican for its failures. There followed a period of coolness and distance which Mr Kenny's warm engagement yesterday with Pope Francis sought to end.