They halted about the door of the mortuary chapel. Mr Bloom stood behind the boy with the wreath looking down at his sleekcombed hair and at the slender furrowed neck inside his brandnew collar. Poor boy! Was he there when the father? Both unconscious. Lighten up at the last moment and recognise for the last time. All he might have done. I owe three shillings to O’Grady. Would he understand? The mutes bore the coffin into the chapel. Which end is his head?
After a moment he followed the others in, blinking in the screened light. The coffin lay on its bier before the chancel, four tall yellow candles at its corners. Always in front of us. Corny Kelleher, laying a wreath at each fore corner, beckoned to the boy to kneel. The mourners knelt here and there in prayingdesks. Mr Bloom stood behind near the font and, when all had knelt, dropped carefully his unfolded newspaper from his pocket and knelt his right knee upon it. He fitted his black hat gently on his left knee and, holding its brim, bent over piously.
A server bearing a brass bucket with something in it came out through a door. The whitesmocked priest came after him, tidying his stole with one hand, balancing with the other a little book against his toad’s belly. Who’ll read the book? I, said the rook.
They halted by the bier and the priest began to read out of his book with a fluent croak.
Father Coffey. I knew his name was like a coffin. Dominenamine. Bully about the muzzle he looks. Bosses the show. Muscular christian. Woe betide anyone that looks crooked at him: priest. Thou art Peter. Burst sideways like a sheep in clover Dedalus says he will. With a belly on him like a poisoned pup. Most amusing expressions that man finds. Hhhn: burst sideways.
—Non intres in judicium cum servo tuo, Domine.
Makes them feel more important to be prayed over in Latin. Requiem mass. Crape weepers. Blackedged notepaper. Your name on the altarlist. Chilly place this. Want to feed well, sitting in there all the morning in the gloom kicking his heels waiting for the next please. Eyes of a toad too. What swells him up that way? Molly gets swelled after cabbage. Air of the place maybe. Looks full up of bad gas. Must be an infernal lot of bad gas round the place. Butchers, for instance: they get like raw beefsteaks. Who was telling me? Mervyn Browne. Down in the vaults of saint Werburgh’s lovely old organ hundred and fifty they have to bore a hole in the coffins sometimes to let out the bad gas and burn it. Out it rushes: blue. One whiff of that and you’re a goner.
Joyce has a famously complicated relationship with the Catholic church but it’s clear from this passage that his relationship to the priesthood is fairly simple and animus. However, directly after describing the priests in fairly disgusting terms he follows up with the latin phrase “—Non intres in judicium cum servo tuo, Domine.” which I translated to ” Enter not into judgment of thy servant, O Lord,”. It’s almost as if Joyce is apologizing to God for how much he hates his priesthood.
I was planning on drawing the frog priest until I read the last paragraph about drilling holes in coffins and lighting the gas on fire. It was too interesting an image to not draw. I looked for some kind of evidence to support people drilling holes in coffins to relieve the gas. I couldn’t find anything about anyone lighting it on fire but I did find this very interesting article in the Guardian confirming the drilling of holes along with many other interesting facts about burial practices in the late 1800’s in London. (source)