Category Archives: Irish Colleges on the Continent
Letter of Dr. David Kearney, Archbishop of Cashel, to the Irish College of Salamanca, 18th July, 1612
When I was over there among you [see here - shane], I gave you a full account of the state of this our native country, and of the troubles and dangers with which we are surrounded. These have since become palpable in the cruel death inflicted on our brother, the bishop of Down, and his chaplain, the 1st day of February of the present year, which we have already detailed to you.
At present the state of our affairs is very doubtful..We have ample evidence that a Parliament is about to assemble, and this makes us very uneasy, for we may expect nothing less from it than serious injury to our faith, as in all probability the votes of the perverse will outweigh those of the Catholics, so that they may decree what they like. Within our jurisdiction some wicked men and greedy officials have appeared, who will not pass even the miserable sacristans, who have scarcely enough to eat, but lay on them fines and taxes, which if anyone will not, or cannot, pay, or if he refuses the oath of the king’s supremacy, he shall get well off with the loss of his property and the privation of his office.
Some time ago, as I am credibly informed, there came to this country that deceptive and false bishop called Knox, who in the Isles bordering on Scotland committed such cruel acts on the Catholics, and intends to do the same here, and they assure me he has a commission of martial law from the king to hang, wherever he may find him, any priest or religious, without examination of cause, or the observance of the forms of law and justice.
They are busily employed in planting their colonies, as they call them, depriving the natives and rightful owners of their lands and possessions which they inherited from their ancestors from time immemorial to the present, and giving them to strangers and heretics without law or reason. Feeling these and other grievances, some inhabitants of the town and neighbourhood of Wexford, who are regarded as the most warlike people of the kingdom, and are skilful mariners, have put to sea in a well-found ship, to lead the life of pirates, and harass the heretics.
Come what may let our adversaries plot as they will we are determined to labour as God helps us, instructing our Catholics, and exhorting them never to consent to anything prejudicial to the liberty of the Catholic religion. In other secular affairs we do not mingle, but leave to God to employ His divine providence in behalf of the church when we do what we can.
This year has been one of prodigies here, for the summer has been very dry and hot, and it has twice rained blood in two different parts of the west of Munster. In the cathedral church of this diocese a great fall of snow occurred on the day of the Holy Ghost, though it was then exceedingly hot, and it fell only within the cemetery. May God grant it be of as happy omen as what fell in Rome when the church of Our Lady, St. Mary Major, was founded.
Dignitaries of Church and State were abundantly present at Gormanston Castle, 18th November, 1956, to mark the blessing and dedication of the new Franciscan school, commemorating the tercentenary celebration of the death of Luke Wadding. The President of Ireland, Seán T. O’Kelly, was accompanied by his aide-de-camp, Col. O’Sullivan, and inspected a Guard of Honour from Gormanston Military Camp. Both the President and the Irish premier, John A. Costello, were greeted by the Rector of the College, Very Rev. Felix Butler, O.F.M., and the Provincial, Very Rev. Hubert Quinn, O.F.M.
Pontifical High Mass was celebrated by the Bishop of Meath, who also blessed the foundation stone. Other prelates in attendance included the Apostolic Nunio, the Primate of All Ireland, the Bishop of Raphoe, and the Bishop of Kokstad.
Those present at the ceremonies included General Richard Mulcahy, Minister for Education, General Seán MacEoin, Minister for Defence and Éamon de Valera. State officials attending included Maj. General P. A. Mulcahy, Chief of Staff, and Daniel Costigan, Commissioner of the Irish police. Members of Waterford Corporation, along with members and officials of many other public bodies, were also present.
Cardinal John D’Alton, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, opened the ceremonies with the reading of a letter from Pope Pius XII to those present, which is appended below. He then gave a glowing eulogy of Fr Wadding, paying strong tribute to his religious devotion and patriotic ideals. The Cardinal spoke admiringly of his having realised the desperate needs of the Irish Church at a time of extreme persecution and establishing the Irish Franciscans at St. Isidore’s College, “which holds cherished memories for so many Irishmen from its foundation down to our own day”. The Cardinal noted that three years after the foundation of St. Isidore’s, through the good offices of his friend Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi, “he succeeded in establishing a college for the training of students for the secular priesthood and during its infancy watched over its destinies with paternal solicitude”. The Ludovisi College would develop into the Irish College. Cardinal D’Alton, through his own experience, could confirm that Irish College seminarians were always conscious of the deep gratitude and affection they owed to Fr Wadding, “one of the most illustrious of our exiles, who loved Ireland sincerely and served it unselfishly”.
Strong admiration was expressed by the Cardinal for Fr Wadding’s intellectual achievements. Having left Waterford as a boy, Fr Wadding was soon to win high distinctions in the universities of Portugal and Spain. He began his studies in philosophy and theology in Portugal before being invited to join the Spanish province. He became a lecturer in theology at the world-renowned University of Salamanca, which brought him into contact with some of the greatest theologians of his day, including Suarez. He quickly established himself as a leading intellectual and at age 30 was chosen by King Philip III as a theologian to the Commission sent to Rome to promote the doctrine of Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception.
The Cardinal noted that “his literary achievements were acclaimed in every Catholic country in Europe. Two of his works, his monumental history of his Order and his masterly edition of Duns Scotus, would have sufficed to keep most scholars busy for a lifetime, but they were only a small part of the writings that came from his versatile and indefatigable pen.” (Indeed, Fr Wadding is still regarded as the father of the Franciscan Order’s history, and in 2007 the archive of the General Order in Rome was named after him.)
Cardinal D’Alton also noted his work on behalf of Irish interests, appealing to Catholic states in Europe for assistance, and also his diplomatic activities in Rome (see here: IV: ‘Work for Ireland’).
But ultimately, the Cardinal said, “his dreams for an Ireland liberated and resurgent were shattered all too soon. The failure of the Confederation, the departure of the Nuncio, a sad and disillusioned man, the death of Owen Roe [O’Neill], and the landing of Cromwell on our shores must have stricken that ardent patriot with sorrow and dismay.”
The following is the text of the letter from Pope Pius XII read out by Cardinal D’Alton to those present:
It is to the undying glory of the Irish people that, even in times of storm and distress, not only did they retain pure and inviolate the Catholic Faith which in times past they received from St. Patrick, but also that they produced sons without number, who, renowned for their reputation of learning and holiness, shed lustre upon religion and upon their motherland. Justly and rightfully in the number of these is counted Luke Wadding, the glory and pride of the Franciscan Order, whose memory it is your wish to honour with due meed of praise on the tercentenary of his death.
We know the many services which he performed for the benefit of the Church, nor are We ignorant of the great force of his example as a further incentive to virtue, either among the members of his own Order or among your fellow citizens. There, at this auspicious and fitting time of rejoicing, We desire with a father’s heart, to be present with you by this letter, which, by God’s favour, may enhance the joy of the tercentenary celebration and increase its fruits. When We recall his life and his achievements there seems to live again before our eyes that wonderful zeal for the Catholic faith which was handed down by your ancestors, and with which the greatness and the weal of the Irish people seemed always to be linked. Fully instructed, as he was, and strengthened in the Faith though only a boy, he did not hesitate to face the hardships of exile, since in his own country, at that time, religion had been brought to a hazardous pass.
Later, after his reception into the Franciscan Order, one can scarcely credit the number and the magnitude of the works at which he laboured and which he successfully concluded, on behalf of the Church, his Order and his country. Although Portugal and Spain, where he was eminent for his learning and sanctity, first nurtured and confirmed his resolution, it was Rome which, without doubt, gave fuller scope and vigour to his apostolic ardour and zeal. Witness to this are the many momentous tasks to which he was assigned by Our predecessors, the rare prudence he so admirably displayed in filling different offices, and, likewise, the high renown which his learning won for him, both through his researches into the history of his Order and the importance of the works which he published.
In a special way, however, love of country shone in him. In Ireland at that period, the enemies of the Catholic name were striving not only to dispossess the people of their civil liberties, but also to root the ancient Faith out of their minds: so, to the very end of his life, the man of God generously came to the aid of his oppressed fellow-countrymen by every means in his power. Thus he showed the effectiveness of love for one’s own country when it is joined with truly great love of God. Therefore, it is fitting to call to mind the twin colleges, of which Luke Wadding was the founder, erected in this gracious city, the one for students of the Franciscan Order, the other for secular priests as they are styled, destined all of them for Ireland. In this way, there was given to young men chosen from among your people the opportunity to drink deeply of the Faith of Rome and daily to foster and cherish more their loving respect and dutifulness towards the Roman Pontiff.
The results justified the expectations. Learned in the Catholic Faith, well grounded in doctrine and sound morals, many from that day to this, have left a life of ease for the heat and the dust and won golden opinions from the Church and their country by their outstanding intellectual gifts and their unrivalled example. Therefore, for many reasons, beloved Son, the Franciscan family, as well as the whole Irish race, will celebrate the tercentenary of the day on which death came serenely to that admirable disciple of the Patriarch of Assisi, that most devoted defender in your land of the Catholic religion, the untiring helper of the Roman Pontiffs, the exacting worker in the history of the Franciscans.
You have in him a noble pattern of the religious life. You have in him an admirable example of virtue combined with patriotism. Gaze and meditate on his example, and courageously imitate him. In answer to your humble prayers, may God, by his heavenly aid, grant that you may follow his example more and more closely in the daily duties of your state in life. Meanwhile as an augury of heavenly graces and as proof of Our paternal benevolence, We liberally impart the Apostolic Benediction to the dear people of Ireland, and expressly to you, beloved Son, and to the entire Franciscan family.
PIUS PP. XII
The following letter was sent by Bl. Pope John XXIII to the Most Rev. John Charles McQuaid, Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland, on the occassion of the Centenary of Holy Cross College, Clonliffe (then the Major Seminary of the Archdiocese of Dublin):
The forthcoming celebration in your diocesan See, on the occasion of the Centenary of the foundation of the Major Seminary of the Archdiocese of Dublin is, to Our mind, entirely fitting and opportune. For if a Seminary, by reason of its object and its importance, has always been regarded by this Holy See as illustrious and worthy of veneration, it is indeed suitable that this Seminary, bearing the title of the Holy Cross and so distinguished in its beginnings and in its achievements, should be acclaimed.
The foundation of the Seminary in the year 1860 was the work of a most distinguished and eminently praiseworthy man, Paul Cullen, Archbishop of Dublin, and former Rector of the Irish College and of the Roman College of Propaganda, who was raised to the Cardinalate by Our Predecessor, Pius IX, of happy memory, in recognition of his magnificent services on behalf of the Chair of Peter and of the Universal Church. He thought it wise to link the College, which was destined for students of Philosophy and Theology, to the Catholic University, which he had established six years before to the great benefit of the whole of Ireland.
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Encouraged by the confidence I have in your Catholic Majesty, I have dared to speak more freely than perhaps I should have done, but I trust your Majesty will excuse me, as the business is of such importance.
I understand that the English, after having done us all the harm they could, wish to make peace with your Majesty, which is with no other intention than that they may be able, after the peace is concluded with your Majesty, to treat us more freely by doing all the mischief they wish against us. These injuries, which will be felt by all in general, will be more terrible for myself, because our chieftains have had great confidence in your Majesty, and I have written many times encouraging them to resist the English, assuring them that your Majesty would not fail to send assistance, as I was told by the Cardinal and other men of high position in the name of your Majesty. We have refused on this account, many times, the pardon the English have offered us for the past, telling us to enjoy our goods and lands as before, on condition we would be of their opinion, and recognise Her Majesty as Sovereign and Queen.
Neither can your Majesty conscientiously refuse to send us some assistance in virtue of the promises made through me by your Majesty, and that without delay, as we have already been kept in suspense for one year and three months; for, you must hold in mind that your Majesty is the Catholic King, having received that name from your ancestors for the increase of Catholic faith, by favouring the cause of Catholics. In, the same way as the Queen of England has favoured and favours the rebel heretics in France, your Majesty can, in an underhand manner, send some assistance to our chieftains, in arms and men, under pretence of their going to Holland, who, contrary to your will, or for some other cause, should go to Ireland.
Your Majesty has now a good opportunity for so doing, by taking advantage of the arrival of that Englishman, Thomas Stukely, who has received such insults from his own countrymen that he will not fail to do them all the harm he can. He is a very daring man, clever in war matters, in which he has been engaged most of his life. He is well acquainted with our own country, its forts, its harbours. I have been informed that he has brought with him experienced mariners from all parts of Ireland. This is the most favourable season in the year, because now our land abounds with good corn and meat, much more than at other seasons of the year; besides if your Majesty does not send some succour within three months, the English will take such hold of our forts and harbours, that even if your Majesty were to make use of all your power, you would not overcome them. I mention this, because I have been informed that the English are making great preparations, and are endeavouring to take possession of the whole country, and to keep it in such subjection that the natives shall no longer be able to make any resistance as they have hitherto done in some places. If the English succeed in their plans (which God forbid), your Majesty will have the worst enemies whom you have ever known. All this your Majesty can prevent now, with the assistance of a few men, by being the first to take possession of the ports and fortresses. The whole success depends on celerity, for your Majesty will be able to do with 10,000 men, and a little expense, what you will not afterwards be able to accomplish with 100,000 men and all available power. If perchance your Majesty is not satisfied with my embassy, or doubts lest perhaps those who sent me should not keep their word, let your Majesty send some one with me to my country, and I shall make those chieftains place their fortunes and estates under your Majesty’s jurisdiction by oath, or give any security required by your Majesty until they fulfil what they have promised. If it does not please your Majesty to send prompt assistance, as I was promised by the Cardinal and other noblemen in your Majesty’s name, I request your Majesty to grant me the favour of allowing me to return to my native land, that thus I may discharge my conscience of the great weight I have from the Church, and apologise to my brethren for my delay, by testifying my willingness to die for the Catholic faith, and for the liberty of my country, as much as each of them does. My remaining here would only serve to increase the expenses of your Majesty, without any benefit to myself or my country.
The humble servant and chaplain of your Majesty,
Irish College, Salamanca
From the Irish Ecclesiastical Record, December, 1872:
Before we begin our brief outline of this famous College, we feel bound to acknowledge our obligations to the writer of the able and original article in our July Number on the College of Lisbon. He has many sources of information not open to us, and we trust that he will kindly assist us in our present inquiry; also, as it is a subject with which he must be, from his position, perfectly familiar.
The College of Salamanca, in the Kingdom of Leon, in Spain, was founded in 1582 by the Rev. Thomas White, and endowed by the States of Castille and Leon for the education of Irish secular priests, and was one (1) of the first establishments the Irish Catholics obtained on the Continent after the Reformation. From the earliest times Ireland was, perhaps, more closely connected with Spain than with any other foreign country. The traditional belief of our people was that their ancestors had come immediately from Spain. Identity of national usages favoured this belief, which was further strengthened by frequent commercial intercourse. During the latter part of the sixteenth century a new motive of friendship was found in the unity of religious interests. Queen Elizabeth provoked a war with Spain by openly supporting the Dutch Protestants, who, from fanatical zeal, had risen against Philip; at the very same time she was persecuting her Catholic subjects in Ireland, and using every means to root out the ancient faith. The Irish chieftains fled to Spain for protection, and sought that religious freedom there which they could not enjoy at home. Thus were the Irish Catholics bound more closely than ever to their Spanish brethren, who, on the other hand, never failed to protect and support them in their distress. The first and most urgent want of Ireland was to provide for the education of her priesthood, and Spain was the first nation in Europe that founded Colleges for this purpose.
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From the Irish Ecclesiastical Record, October, 1872:
The two interesting notices which have appeared on the Irish Colleges abroad make us conscious of the great blanks in our ecclesiastical history [see article below - shane], and make us feel the keenest regret at not knowing something more concerning the men, who, like Stapleton and Carney, served their Church and country in those colleges. Many of them who exercised great influence for good in their generation, and worked with zeal for the welfare of fatherland, dropped into such oblivion that even their names have remained unknown for more than two hundred years. One of these was “the very venerable Father James O’Carney,” of the Society of Jesus. Although he cannot well be identified with the Father James Carney mentioned in the July Record, (1) he was intimately connected with the Irish College of Salamanca, and, consequently, deserves a passing notice in our sketches of the Irish Colleges of the Continent.
F. Redan or Reade, S.J., in the preface to his Commentary on the Machabees, gives the following account of this distinguished Irishman: —
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“Jansenism”. The Oxford Companion to Irish History. 2007.
“Jansenism was viewed with great suspicion by Rome, and 17th-century Irish synods toed the Roman line. Indeed, while its moral rigorism made it attractive to elements of the Counter-Reformation church, Jansenism’s theological and political radicalism alienated both local hierarchies and Catholic monarchs. This was especially the case in France and most Irish clerical students there associated with the milieux hostile to the movement. Indeed their anti-Jansenist opinions were singled out for criticism by the pro-Jansenist journal Nouvelles ecclésiastiques, Irish clerics, in general, being more attracted to Jesuit-style humanism. The success of the anti-Jansenist bull Unigenitus (1713) marginalized the movement but it survived as a popular millenarian-cum-miracle cult. Neither as a theology nor as a political attitude did Jansenism recommend itself to the Irish Catholic community, either at home or abroad. The frequent claim that Irish Catholicism was Jansenist-influenced springs from the tendency to confuse Jansenism with mere moral rigorism.”
—Dr. Thomas O’Connor. Ph.D., is Senior Lecturer at the Department of History, National University of Ireland. He is the author of Irish Jansenists 1600-1670: politics and religion in Flanders, France, Ireland and Rome (Dublin, 2008), Strangers to Citizens: the Irish in Europe 1600-1800 (Dublin, 2008), An Irish Jansenist in seventeenth-century France: John Callaghan 1605-54 (Dublin, 2005) and An Irish Theologian in Enlightenment Europe: Luke Joseph Hooke 1714-96 (Dublin, 1995).
John Healy, Maynooth College: Its Centenary History (Dublin, 1895), p. 274
“During the eighteenth century many of the most eminent Churchmen in France were, to some extent, tinctured with these Jansenistic views, even when repudiating the Jansenistic errors regarding the operation of grace and free will. But although so many of our Irish ecclesiastics were educated in France during the eighteenth century, none of those who came to Ireland ever showed the slightest trace of this Jansenistic influence, either in their writings or their sermons. Nor has any respectable authority asserted, so far as we know, that the French Professors of Maynooth were in any way tinged with the spirit of Jansenism.”
—Most Rev. John Healy, D.D., LL.D., M.R.I.A.
“Off the playing-fields [of Maynooth seminary] at the end of a short avenue of tall cypresses, there is a little cemetery. Here are the graves of some of the greatest men in the history of modern Irish Catholicism. Here, also, are the graves of Irish boys who had consecrated themselves to God but whom God took to Himself before they reached the priesthood. A few French priests rest here, too. For the original staff at Maynooth consisted of Irish priests from Paris and some French colleagues whom they brought with them. (To this day the College gown is an adaptation of that worn by the clerical professors at the Sorbonne in pre-Revolution times.)
Those gentle dead are sometimes accused of having brought Jansenism into Ireland. My friend, Mr. Tom Wall, Assistant Librarian at University College, Dublin, has written admirably on this silly accusation and on the whole history of the remarkable part played by Irish priests in Paris in the Jansenist controversy. The so-called Jansenism of late nineteenth century Ireland was nothing more than an element of Victorianism that came over with the compulsory English after the Famine.”
—Chevalier Thomas MacGreevy
by Pat Muldowney,
Church and State; First Quarter, 2011
Historic massacres have been in the news recently. Large numbers of British Protestant settlers were killed in horrific circumstances by hordes of rebellious natives in a frenzy of religious hatred. This despite the fact that the settlers, whatever their faults, were bringing civic values, industry, modernity and progress to an antiquated country mired in backwardness and superstition.
In the ensuing chaos, order was finally restored by a determined military campaign in which the Irish Brigadier- General John Nicholson played a leading part, but at the cost of his own life.
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