From RTÉ News:
Relic of St Laurence O’Toole stolen
The 12th Century preserved heart of the Patron Saint of Dublin, Saint Laurence O’Toole, has been stolen from Christ Church Cathedral.
His heart was preserved since the 13th century and has been a major pilgrimage site
The Cathedral was opened at 9.30am, to no alarm activation and no sign of any break-in.
The heart was believed to be stolen between last night and noon today.
The Heart of St Laurence O’Toole was kept in a wooden heart shaped container sealed within a small iron barred box.
Catholicism in western Europe seems to be on its last legs but Orthodoxy is enjoying a ‘colossal’ revival in Russia.
I seen this encouraging news today on Voices from Russia:
Russians are Becoming “More Orthodox”
According to a poll taken by the all-Russian Public Opinion Research Centre (VTsIOM), over the past 16 years, the proportion of Russians attending services increased from 57 percent to 71 percent. VTsIOM said that the results indicate that 7 percent attend services at least once a month, 30 percent attend occasionally, and 34 percent go sporadically. The number of those who never attend services fell from 42 percent to 26 percent. Amongst those baptised Orthodox, the proportion of those who attend services is 83 percent. At the same time, 11 percent of unbelievers said that they occasionally went to church. According to VTsIOM, 33 percent of respondents received charitable aid at one time or another, whilst 29 percent donated money to the church. VTsIOM took the poll on 18-19 February 2012; they interviewed 1,600 people in 138 locations in 46 Russian oblasts and republics.
1 March 2012
The Irish Government confirmed this week that the EU Fiscal Stability Pact will be put to a referendum. I would be very interested in the opinions of my readers on the Pact (or on the EU generally) and how you intend to vote. Has the EU become a threat to Irish sovereignty and independence? Or is closer fiscal integration necessary to stem the debt crisis?
The following report was sent by Dr. John Brenan, Bishop of Waterford and Lismore (later Archbishop of Cashel) to Mgr. Urbano Cerri, Secretary of Propaganda. It is dated Waterford, 20th September, 1675.
In the year 1672 I forwarded to the Sacred Congregation a detailed report on the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore, and, since then, I have not failed to send from time to time an account of other matters, as well, to the Internuncio, as to the Secretary, and having held and completed Visitation of the two dioceses during the past Summer I resolved to send to headquarters an account of any matters of importance.
In the united Diocese of Waterford and Lismore there are thirty secular priests, all engaged in the care of souls. Notwithstanding that the Protestant clergy hold all the churches and their revenues, the titular possession of the parishes is distributed among the Catholic clergy, some receiving the charge of one parish, others two or more, each one attending to his own assigned district and not interfering with the rest. The greater part of these have studied in foreign parts and are sufficiently competent. Some of them preach, others give exhortations, and all at least teach the Catechism. There are some who have never been abroad; these are the weakest, but for the most part they are zealous and lead a virtuous life, as, indeed, do all the rest.
Bishop Daniel Cohalan
From The Irish Times, 27th February, 1939:
The German legation in Dublin in 1939 was irritated by Catholic bishops’ criticisms of Nazism and was probably not amused either by the Lord Mayor of Cork’s refusal to welcome the crew of a German naval ship because of German criticisms of the recently deceased Pope Pius XI
WHILE ONE hundred men from the German naval cadet training vessel Schlesien were at Mass at St. Colman’s Cathedral, Cove , yesterday, the Bishop of Cork (Dr. Cohalan) announced his support for the action of the Lord Mayor of Cork (Councillor James Hickey, T. D.) in refusing to welcome the officers and crew.
Dr. Cohalan, speaking to the Cork Catholic Young Men’s Society, said: “I congratulate the Lord Mayor, and thank him.”
The Lord Mayor said his refusal was because of “the insult given to the Catholic world on the death of the Pope, when the responsible German Press termed our Holy Father a political adventurer.”
Note: This is the text of a lecture delivered in the O’Connell Hall, Dublin, on 1st December, 1937, under the auspices of An Rioghacht (lit. ‘The Kingdom’) or the League of the Kingship of Christ, founded by Fr Edward Cahill S.J. in 1926.
Fr Coyle with his father, John, his mother, Mary and his brother, Paddy, on his ordination day, 20 December 1967 in St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, Dublin.
I am immensely grateful to Fr Seán Coyle for these fascinating reminiscences: (Make sure also to check out his reminscences of the 1961 Patrician Congress/Vatican II and Liturgical Reform in the Church in Ireland)
These memories and thoughts represent only one man. Others who grew up with and went to school with me, or who are my confreres in the Society of St Columban, may recall the same or similar events and interpret them in a very different way. I thank Shane for asking me the questions that led me to put these recollections on virtual paper and for putting my answers together. I’ve done a little editing on his collated version. To my surprise, this edited document is a little longer than what Shane sent. I am wryly amused at the fact that a young historian finds my recollections of interest.I feel a bit like ‘The Oldest Member’ in PG Wodehouse’s golfing stories. But I am also inspired by the fact that I have been in a position for some years now of being able to speak to young men from the Philippines and from Fiji starting off their formation in preparing to be Columban priests about our founders and early members. It is truly a grace to have known these pioneering missionaries to some degree.
I was born in 1943 and grew up in a working-class environment in what is now considered inner city Dublin though it wasn’t then, but it was one where for many of us, though not for all, the future was hopeful. The majority of my contemporaries in O’Connell Schools belonged, I would say, to the first generation in our families to have a secondary education. Nearly all of us in my section who did the Leaving Cert in 1961 stayed in Ireland and did well professionally. I had a sense of being privileged in having a chance to go to secondary school. I think that most of my classmates probably had a similar sense of being privileged. My parents were largely responsible for my educational opportunities.
1950s Ireland was not as insular as many say it was. As a child I was aware from listening to Radio Éireann and reading The Irish Press of much of what was happening in the rest of the world, including the trials of Cardinal Mindszenty, of then Archbishop Stepinac, later Cardinal and now Blessed, of the Korean War, of US presidential elections, etc. My teacher in Fourth Class in O’Connell’s School, John Galligan, encouraged us to read the newspapers beyond the sports pages and we sometimes discussed the news in class. I also got a good grounding in geography in primary school
The Korean War was also widely reported and ‘the 38th parallel’ became embedded in my young mind.
Speaking at the Mater Dei Spring Lecture Series on ‘Reform in the Church in Ireland’ the Archbishop of Dublin seems unwarrantably optimistic about the prospects facing the Irish Church. Perhaps he’s in denial?
In 1962 Clonliffe College was not an exciting place but in the years that followed it became an exciting pace. There was great interest and ferment in theology. The Vatican Council broke down walls of an over institutionalised Church and the new air generated new vitality. Today there are those who feel that the Irish Church has failed the vitality and hope that the Vatican Council had engendered; there are others who would say that opening the windows of the Church so widely and indiscriminately without noticing the contamination of the outside air, let in viruses that we would have been better off without. I imagine that future historians with the light of hindsight will probably say that there are elements of truth on either side.
There have always at the same time been reasons of hope and reasons of concern in the Irish Church. To imagine otherwise would be do be totally a-historical. As always at times of change, the hope of one side can quickly become the anxiety of the other. In times of change each side sticks to its side and we Irish when we get stuck into a position are not always that good on the subtlety thing. In time of change – like today – we always need the light of historians who remind us of the ups and downs of Irish Catholicism over the centuries and who recall that the winds of reform and renewal often come not from those debating on the different sides but from unexpected quarters and take unexpected paths.
The late Archbishop Thomas Morris, emeritus of Cashel and Emly, was interviewed in 1992 by RTÉ’s religious affairs correspondent, Kieron Wood. Many thanks to Kieron for allowing me to repost the text of the interview:
I’d been a Bishop for two years at the start of the Council. I’d been teaching dogmatic theology and it depended at that time on consulting the authorities, what former Councils had decided. But I was quite insular in my outlook on the Church and my theology. I didn’t know what sort of issues were likely to come up in Rome. In any case the issues didn’t come up that one would have expected.
It wasn’t until we came to the schema on the Church that the newer thinking became apparent– thinking that we weren’t familiar with. I only vaguely guessed at the combination of the North European bishops. I’d heard of a pastoral issued by the bishops of Holland; the late Archbishop McQuaid of Dublin told me about it; he would have regarded it as too advanced, unorthodox. But I didn’t know about the cleavages within the theology schools.
We got the drafts of the various schemata beforehand. They were labelled sub secreto, so that I didn’t even show them to my secretary. I found of course that drafts had been circulated to an awful lot of people besides!
I was relieved when we were told that this Council was not aimed at defining or giving final statements on doctrine, because a statement of doctrine has to be very carefully formulated and I would have regarded the Council statements as tentative and liable to be reformed.
Every few weeks or so I email a new scrapbook concerning the Vatican II and/or liturgical changes in the Church in Ireland to those on my mailing list who have previously expressed their interest in receiving them. If you haven’t already subscribed and would like to receive these scrapbooks via email you are welcome to do so by emailing me at shanesemail2010atgmail.com (replace ‘at’ with @)
The town of Elphin is totally possessed by English and Scottish Protestants among whom no Catholic is permitted to live or remain: scattered throughout the rural areas of the entire diocese live both Catholics and Protestants, with the Catholics in greater number. In all things we proceed, (to the extent that the difficulties of the times allow) according to the norms and prescriptions of the Council of Trent. At this time, besides several other priests, we have (praise be to God) forty-two priests in our Diocese, in which, before our promotion to the same, there were only thirteen parish priests. Our diocesan and provincial statutes, recently confirmed by the Apostolic See we cause (with the aid of the Almighty) most strictly to be observed by our priests. For fear of the Protestants we do not dare to convene all our priests together in a synod (as the canons prescribe) but year by year in a solitary place we convene in an almost synodal fashion the priests of a deanery and at that place we perform a visitation according to the exigency of the law, since indeed this our Diocese was anciently divided into seven small deaneries. Each parish priest teaches Chrisian doctrine to his parishioners at least on Sundays in secret and wooded places; there he celebrates Mass sustained only by the alms of faithful Catholics without any income coming from any ecclesiastical property, just as we ourselves are sustained and fed by the devotion alone of Catholics and by participation in the alms of our priests without any Ecclesiastical revenue, sustaining (praise be to God) the burden and anxiety of the time and fleeing from house to house and from mountains into woods following the footsteps of our Saviour, led by his Spirit, not having here a permanent residence where we could recline our head.
Whence it seems very expedient (if it shall seem so to His Holiness) that in future while the schism lasts in this afflicted kingdom nobody should be promoted to the episcopal state unless having been found by witnesses, worthy of credit, to have good and intimate secular friends and relations able to sustain, favour and feed him, otherwise certainly, unless miracles are permitted, the Episcopal state will cheapen and be despised in these lands. Because now to all the Catholics of this desolate Kingdom a mortal danger of complete supplantation of both secular and spiritual goods threatens (unless our compassionate and merciful Lord should swiftly succour our poor people). Since indeed the Protestant Primates of this kingdom in this present time have issued certain canons (as they call them) entirely destructive of our religion (if the Almighty permits this) in which it is strictly warned that all the inhabitants of this kingdom under pain of maximum punishment should acknowledge and accept our most serene king [Charles I - Shane] as Supreme Head in Spiritual and Temporal matters in all his dominions and it is warned also and has been proclaimed that all young people and schoolchildren of whatever age should be instructed and educated by Protestant schoolteachers and that all the inhabitants (which let God avert) of this miserable land should enter the protestant churches every Sunday, and those who contract marriage in the presence of a Catholic priest are forced to pay at least one mark and similarly those who give infants to be baptised by our parish priests; and that none in future can be buried in the tombs of their ancestors lying in Monasteries, in which practically all the tombs of this nation lie, and only very few in the parish churches, on account of the constant and singular devotion of the people and of the nobles of our nation towards the regular orders. These and many other portents of the same ilk which I omit to mention in the interests of brevity but I should add one other canon in which it is ordered that our tender youth should all be brought to the Protestant pseudo-bishops to be confirmed, which up to now we never knew to be done or ordered to be. Furthermore that all should acknowledge the legitimate power of conferring sacred orders which they themselves see in the same pseudo-bishops. In both cases our Catholics suffer and will suffer a great deal.
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From the Catholic Herald:
By ED WEST on Friday, 17 February 2012
An Irish equivalent to the lay group Catholic Voices has been established.
Catholic Comment, like its British equivalent, has been formed to prepare a team of lay people to speak about the Catholic faith in the media. It is currently looking for potential speakers, and those selected will be offered media training and briefings on topical issues as they prepare for TV and radio appearances.
The Irish hierarchy issued the following statement in 1925 at their October meeting in St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth:
We have a word of entreaty, advice and instruction, to speak to our flocks on a very grave subject. There is danger of losing the name which the chivalrous honour of Irish boys and the Christian reserve of Irish maidens had won for Ireland. If our people part with the character that gave rise to that name, we lose with it much of our national strength, and still more of the high rank we have held in the Kingdom of Christ.
Purity is strength, and purity and faith go together. Both virtues are in danger these times, but purity is more directly assailed than faith. The danger comes from pictures and papers and drink. It comes more from the keeping of improper company than from any other cause; and there is no worse fomenter of this great evil than the dancing hall.
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From the Irish Catholic Directory, 1969:
JULY 11 — Cardinal Conway said that there has been “a very marked change in the Church in Ireland.”
At a news conference in Dublin Airport, on his return from the European bishops’ conference in Chur, Switzerland, he recalled his earlier reference in Chur to his impression (from talking with other bishops) that “there has been a swing toward change in the Church since the Vatican Ecumenical Council.”
However, the change in Ireland had been at a steady pace, with the result that people might not notice it.
He illustrated his contention: “If you could switch a time machine to the year before the Vatican Council, I think you would be startled at the change that has come over the Church here since that time.”
And there were many reasons for this, including the fact that in several dioceses there was a Council of Priests. They met regularly and discussed matters of Diocesan policy with the bishop. This was a very important change.
In addition, Parish Councils were coming into being, sprouting up all over the country. The changes in the Liturgy had had a profound effect, and the methods of teaching religion in the schools had been revolutionised. All of these things, he explained, had produced a change — and, of course, a change for the good.
See also his speech at the annual prize-giving in St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth (19th June, 1966).
The decision taken last November to close Ireland’s embassy to the Holy See has aroused considerable dissent among government backbenchers. Fine Gael TDs are overwhelmingly of the view that the decision ought to be revisited; a large number of Labour TDs reportedly disagree with the party leadership and fear that their party has been hijacked by an unrepresentative secularist minority. Eamon Gilmore, Minister of Foreign Affairs, hinted that the decision will be reviewed if economic circumstances improve. Both the Irish Times and the Irish Independent today suggest the need for such a review.
The campaign for re-opening the embassy gained momentum with yesterday’s Irish Examiner interview with Sean Donlon, who was once secretary general of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Ireland’s most senior diplomat. While he unequivocally supported Enda Kenny’s now notorious speech on the Cloyne Report last July, he feels that the closure of the embassy was a step too far. He stresses that he is speaking as a diplomat, not as a member of the Church.
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The Jesuits at Gardiner Street in Dublin once maintained an association of laity and religious dedicated to furnishing essentials to poor or persecuted Catholics around the world. After the Fall of Madrid in the Spanish Civil War, the association – which was under the management of Fr Andrew Macardle, S.J. – dispatched large consignments of vestments, various altar requisites, etc. to Madrid. Mgr Leopoldo Eijo y Garay, Bishop of the Diocese of Madrid (now Archdiocese of Madrid) had earlier wrote to Fr Macardle asking him to send assistance when clergy were allowed to return to their churches. Leading Dublin retailing businesses donated large quantities and the prominent Palgrave Murphy shipping company transported everything to Spain for free. The assistance prompted the following letter of gratitude from the Bishop of Madrid to Father Macardle:
Dear Reverend Father,
A thousand thanks for your letter of April 15th, in which you informed me of the generous gift that the Irish Catholics were sending to their brethren in Madrid who had been despoiled of everything by Marxian atheism. It is needless for me to say how grateful we are to you all and how fervently we pray to the Lord to reward your generosity a hundred fold. All of you who so zealously have gathered the different objects, and those who so generously donated them, will occupy a special place in my prayers and in those of the faithful of my diocese.
Their regard for noble Ireland — the sister nation of Spain, will increase. I feel sure; for Ireland shares with Spain the feelings of submission and love towards the Catholic Church for which both nations have so often shed the blood of their sons. I request you to tender to all the donors my deepest feelings of gratitude and to entreat them all — both religious and lay people — never to cease to pray to Our Lord to give us the help and the necessary graces of which we are so much in need today, so that we may be enabled to carry out successfully the work of moral and material reconstruction of our diocese which we have so much at heart.
Thanking you once again and bestowing upon you my heartfelt blessing.
Sincerely yours in Our Lord,
Bishop of Madrid-Alcala.
Joint Letter of the Spanish Bishops to the Bishops of the Whole World Concerning the War in Spain (1937), the Reply of the Irish Hierarchy to the Spanish Hierarchy, and the Reply of the Cardinal Primate of Spain to the Cardinal Primate of All Ireland
David Lindsay actually, an English Catholic and staunch unionist (in respect of ‘Northern Ireland’, though seemingly not Scotland). He also charges Irish Catholicism with having been peasant-led and denies that Ireland was ever ‘really’ Catholic.
But what about this?
And that is just the tip of the iceberg…
5th October, 1941.
Dear Father Hayes,
I understand you are coming to Kilkenny next Sunday to hold a meeting for the purpose of explaining the Muintir na Tíre organisation (see category archive – Shane) and introducing it into this county. It gives me pleasure to welcome you and wish your initial meeting every success. It has my approval and blessing. Muintir na Tíre has already done valuable work on a wide front for the rural and agricultural interests of the country. In my opinion it is deserving of earnest and widespread support. We are essentially an agricultural community and must remain so. The national welfare — rural and urban — must always depend on the welfare, success and prosperity of the agricultural instrument. The land must always be the ultimate source of riches and prosperity for this country. (see also: Bishop William Philbin on Rural Ireland — its Problems and Possibilities, 1959 – Shane) Literally, we live by and from the land. It has taken a war and a blockade to drive this simple truth into the minds and consciences of the people. May this war lesson not be forgotten in times of peace.
You have a great chance now for your crusade. The land has come into its own again. The farmer and the plough are in honour. They have saved the country from famine and hunger. The minds of the people are eager and ready to receive constructive advice on all that concerns agriculture and wider rural problems. All this is within the work of your organisation, but the farmer and his family, the land-worker and his children must not be beggars any more in this agricultural country. They must not be under-fed, half-clothed and at the same time overworked as they have been in the past. They must get a decent economic living out of their difficult work like any business section of the community. Put this in the very forefront of your programme. It is vital. Nothing else can stop the flight from the land.
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As head of the Catholic Non-Party Organisation of Italy, created to combat Communism, I beg your Grace to make known to the Hierarchy and Catholic people of Ireland the following appeal. The Italian Catholics fully realise that the electoral battle of April 18 (see here – Shane) is decisive for the spiritual destiny of Europe. It is in no sense a struggle between Parties, but between two ideologies, between those who believe in God and those who do not believe in God.
In order to achieve the highest possible efficiency, the Catholics within the last month have created Civic Committees, which are already carrying out in the whole of Italy a magnificent and well-ordered propaganda campaign. The need for unity has, therefore, been understood, and a common Catholic Non-Party Organisation has been formed.
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From UCD University Relations:
Experts begin work on ‘alternative’ national archive of Ireland
A vast collection of Irish historical materials dating from the 11th to the 20th century is currently being surveyed by experts in order to understand this ‘alternative’ national archive of Ireland.
The project led by the UCD Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Institute, and involving historians, archivists, librarians and conservators, has been made possible with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
“The Irish Franciscan archive consists of a considerable number of manuscripts and documents of primary importance to the history of Ireland and its relationship with other parts of the world,” says Dr John McCafferty, Director of the UCD Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Institute, and Head of the UCD School of History and Archives, University College Dublin.
“The archive provides an unbroken record, dating back to the medieval period, of many aspects of Ireland’s historical, cultural, intellectual, and religious past.”
Archbishop Florence Conry
The following document, appended below, is a poem of Fearghal Óg Mac a’Bhaird (Young Fergal Ward) to the Archbishop of Tuam, Florence Conry (Fláithrí Ó Maol Chonaire). The Wards were a distinguished Irish bardic family. A northern branch to which Fergal belonged functioned as hereditary poets to the O’Donnell dynasty, which ruled over the ancient kingdom of Tyrconnell. This poem was found in the Book of the O’Conor Don (compiled by Irish monks in Ostend in 1632) and was authored by the poet around 1615 in the Irish College at Leuven where he, like other Gaelic poets and nobles, was given lodgings following his flight to the continent. It was reposted and rendered into English by Lambert McKenna, S.J., in the Jesuit Irish Monthly of January, 1920, from whence that below is taken.
Archbishop Conry had also long been strongly associated with the O’Donnells. He served as Hugh Roe O’Donnell’s confessor, accompanied him and O’Neill to Rome, returned to Ireland in 1601 with the Spanish invasion army and (along with two Donegal friars) administered the last rites to O’Donnell on their mission to Spain, when the latter expired on his death-bed in the royal fortress of Simancas Castle, near Valladolid. (They also delivered this memorial, which I posted a few weeks ago, concerning the Irish College of Salamanca to King Philip III of Spain on the same trip.)
The defeat of Irish and Spanish forces at the Battle of Kinsale in 1601 inaugurated the downfall of the Gaelic order and the subsequent Plantation of Ulster by the new Stuart monarch James I with Protestant colonists from England and the Scottish lowlands. The defeat and exile of their traditional patrons had devastating implications for Gaelic poets and Irish culture more broadly. Fergal’s other poems before his departure for the continent (around 30 are attributed to him) give a sad insight into the power vacuum left behind at home in Ireland and testify to the grief of the now helpless natives in Plantation-ridden Ulster following the departure of O’Neill and O’Donnell for the continent.
Another poem of Fergal’s to Archbishop Conry was reposted a year earlier, in 1919, by Professor Osborn Bergin in the March issue of fellow-Jesuit periodical Studies.
Éisd rem egnach, a fhir ghráidh
is tús damh ó Dhia an domhnáin
i ndiamhair le dlús guidhe
iarraidh ar tús trócuire.
Listen to my complaint, O ordained man
my first duty is from God of the world
to implore mercy above all
in secret and in earnestness of prayer.
Tug an toice re haimsir
druim riom san chrích Chonaill-sin
im aghaidh is ionnsa í
liom-sa labhair, a Fhlaithrí.
Long ago prosperity abandoned me
in the Land of Conall (see here) yonder
it is now hostile to me
speak in my favour, O Florence.
From the reviews section of the Irish Ecclesiastical Record, March, 1950:
THE FURROW. Vol. I, No. 1. Naas: ‘Leinster Leader.’ February, 1950. Price 1s. 6d.
It is now a month since the inaugural number of The Furrow (see here – Shane) made its appearance, and great numbers of our clerical readers will already have studied its contents and heard and taken part in the discussions that the launching of a new periodical of special interest to the clergy must have aroused. The Editor’s foreword stresses inter alia two aims: to provide an opportunity for the pooling of pastoral experience in varying conditions of the ministry and so ‘give valuable help to all who are charged by God to keep His field,’ and to encourage our younger priests to become ‘men of the pen’ in God’s service. These cardinal points in the programme of The Furrow commend the publications most strongly — to implement these ideals is to contribute notably to the work of the Church. What is implied in these high aims is set forth in detail by Most Rev. Dr. D’Alton, Archbishop of Armagh, in a message wishing The Furrow blessing and success. The remainder of the contents excellently illustrate the two aims referred to.
The Furrow opens auspiciously. We welcome it warmly to the field of Catholic literary activity and cordially wish it an ever-widening, ever-deepening sphere of influence.
P. J. H.*
*i.e., Mgr. Patrick J. Hammell
This is Bishop Boyce’s homily delivered at the Knock novena last year. Unbelievably it has led to him being investigated by the Director of Public Prosecutions, according to this Sunday Independent report:
A HOMILY delivered at Knock shrine by the Bishop of Raphoe, Philip Boyce, is being investigated by the Director of Public Prosecutions following a formal complaint by a leading humanist who claims the sermon was an incitement to hatred.
The gardai have confirmed to former Fine Gael election candidate John Colgan that they have prepared and forwarded a file to the DPP after he made allegations that the address by Dr Boyce was in breach of the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act, 1989.
The homily, entitled: “To Trust in God” was delivered to worshippers during a novena at the Marian shrine in Co Mayo last August and subsequently reported in the media, including The Irish Times, under the headline: “‘Godless culture’ attacking church, says bishop.”
Mr Colgan, a retired chartered engineer and economist from Leixlip, Co Kildare, referred in his formal complaint to two key passages in Dr Boyce’s homily which he believes broke the law.
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Corpus Christi procession (ca. 1940) at St. Peter’s Church, Phibsborough, Dublin. (KSAP 411: Archives of the Knock Shrine Association)
You really must watch these short but fascinating clips:
A group called ‘Ireland Stand Up’ are campaigning to have the decision to close Ireland’s embassy to the Holy See overturned. Last Wednesday they met with almost a third of sitting Irish parliamentarians to support their campaign. Records released to the Irish Examiner show that 93% of public responses received by Foreign Affairs Minister, Eamon Gilmore, opposed the decision to close the embassy. The paper’s headline ‘Public decries closure of embassy to the Vatican’ becomes considerably less impressive when you take into account the fact that only 102 responses were received.
Has Ireland Stand Up really contemplated the nature and purpose of the Irish state’s diplomatic relations with the Holy See? Do they genuinely think that it is in the interests of the Irish Church? If so, why? What leads them to conclude that Irish diplomats and bureaucrats are motivated by any concern for Ireland’s spiritual welfare or for the health of the Irish Church? No, as paid servants of a secular government they are charged with acting on mere temporal and political considerations.
Currently seven of Ireland’s twenty-six dioceses are without a bishop and all bar four of the rest have bishops over the age of 65. The next few years will be extremely decisive in shaping the future mould of Irish Catholicism. New bishops who are appointed will be young and in their position for years to come. It is therefore indispensable that those bishops appointed to replace the current lot (who have failed disastrously) are unimpeachably orthodox, supportive of traditional liturgy, and are committed to a re-evangelization of Irish society. How likely is it that the Irish government will want to see such bishops appointed?
Progressives dominate the Irish ecclesiastical infrastructure. (Orthodox Catholicism is powerless in the Irish Church and without a voice.) They will mobilize and lobby both the Vatican and the Irish state to secure the appointment of progressive bishops and the rejection of conservative ones. Irish diplomats and politicians will sympathize with them on an ideological level but also because outspoken bishops are more likely to forcefully challenge the government’s increasingly liberal social policy. They will lobby the Vatican for or against certain candidates. It was not for nothing that many French anti-clericals opposed the 1905 separation of Church and State, which turned out to be beneficial to the Church in the long run. (Although sadly Pius XI later conceded a veto over episcopal candidates to the French government, which they retain.)
The Irish Church is going through a really historic period of transition, which could make or break or it. It needs maximum temporal freedom from state intrusion in its constitution and internal affairs.
Indeed it would be best for the Irish government to simply break off diplomatic relations with the Vatican completely. By closing their embassy to the Vatican, Irish politicians have already done the Church a massive favour, only they’re too stupid to realize it. Let Irish Catholics be intelligent enough to remain one step ahead.
The monks’ new monastic house: the former Visitation Monastery in Stamullen, Co. Meath
In a comment today on a previous post announcing that the Benedictine Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle in Tulsa are moving to Ireland, a member of the community, Fra Benedetto, kindly directed me to their first newsletter, which explains why they are moving:
Rorate Caeli notes that the founder, prior, and currently the sole priest of the Monastery, Dom Mark Kirby OSB, celebrates exclusively the Traditional Latin Mass and his page on vocations also describes the monastery’s liturgical life as:
• Holy Mass (Usus Antiquior) and the Divine Office celebrated in Latin and Gregorian Chant.
• bringing to the forms of the liturgy a diligence and beauty worthy of the holy mysteries.
This is a very exciting development. Please support the monks with your prayers and by other means if you can.
Note: An Réalt (‘The Star’) was the Irish language praesidium of the Legion of Mary which was dedicated to recultivating Gaelic spirituality, culture and heritage. Regarding its activities in Wales mentioned on pg. 14, there is a very interesting article here on ‘Irish Catholics and the Welsh language in the 20th century’ which asserts that An Réalt “took a particular interest in the Welsh language. Many An Réalt members were fluent in the Welsh language, while others were learning Welsh in a 200-strong Dublin night class. During the 1950s a representative group led by Fr Diarmuid Ó Laoghaire* visited Wales annually, either to R.O.F. Wynne’s Garthewin estate or to the ‘Welsh Catholic’ parish of Gellilydan.”
*See his pamphlet Our Mass, Our Life: Some Irish Traditions and Prayers. See also The Integral Irish Tradition.
The following letter was sent to Pope Paul V by Margaret of Austria, Queen Consort of King Philip III of Spain, and is dated Madrid, 29th February, 1611:
Your Holiness’s very humble and obedient daughter Margaret, by the grace of God Queen of the Spains, of the two Sicilies, of Jerusalem, who kisses your holy feet and hands.
Most Holy Father,
The fervent zeal I know Your Holiness possesses for the service of God and the good of the Church, and the interest you take in everything that conduces to this end, cause me not to hesitate in writing to Your Holiness to recommend to you an object worthy of your zeal.
Such I regard the protection of the seminaries of Irishmen, who now with such courage return after their studies to preach the Gospel in their native land, shedding their blood for the confession of the holy Catholic Faith, and obedience to the Church of Rome. And because just at present the persecution is greatest, it is necessary to procure for them more schools where they may be taught, for the disciples are multiplying every day, so that although in these kingdoms the King my Lord has instituted three, in Salamanca, Lisbon, and Santiago, of Galicia, there is not room in them for all that come; and so some go on to Rome, where it would be a great consolation for them to have a seminary as they have in other nations. And though I am sure the causes that exist for it are quite sufficient when represented to Your Holiness, yet I will not lose what I may gain by supplicating Your Holiness as I do, to favour and assist them that they may have a seminary founded under your protection, which besides being so certainly to the service of God, will be to me a singular favour.
May the Lord guard Your Holiness for the good and happy government of His Church.
The papal nuncio attended by a military guard of honour as he arrives for the official Church reception, 14 January, 1930
From The Irish Times, 16th January, 1930:
The arrival of the first papal nuncio accredited to Ireland, Dublin-born archbishop of Tyana Paschal Robinson, was marked with three days of ceremonies culminating in these formalities.
WITH AN escort of mounted troops, sixty strong, Monsignor Robinson, the Papal Nuncio to the Irish Free State, attended at the Viceregal Lodge, Phoenix Park, Dublin, yesterday, where he presented his credentials to the Governor-General [James McNeill]. The Governor-General, in reply, stated that he intended to take an early opportunity of going to Rome, in order to present his homage to the Pope.
In the afternoon the Nuncio visited Government Buildings, where he was received by President [of the Executive Council] Cosgrave and members of the Executive Council. Cardinal McRory visited the Nuncio at his hotel.
A State banquet was held in the evening. President Cosgrave, addressing the Nuncio, said that if there was anyone among the enemies of their country who hoped that political freedom would loosen their ties with Rome, these hopes had been disappointed, and would be disappointed in years to come.
As he left the Shelbourne Hotel, accompanied by Mr. Joseph Walsh, Secretary to the Ministry for External Affairs, and Colonel Joseph O’Reilly, A.D.C. to President Cosgrave, who travelled in his car, the Nuncio was saluted by a military guard of honour and a fanfare of trumpets. . . .
A strong force of Civic Guards was employed in keeping the route clear. At no point in the centre of the city was the crowd very large, but all were anxious to catch a glimpse of the Nuncio, and as he passed he was respectfully saluted and occasionally cheered.
Children from the Roman Catholic schools, having been granted a holiday for the occasion, lined the route in considerable numbers . . .
Large crowds awaited the party at the North Circular gate to the Phoenix Park, and thousands of school children lined that particular section of the route. Cheers were given as the Papal Nuncio drove into the Park, and many people followed the procession right up to the Phoenix Monument, where it entered the grounds of the Viceregal Lodge.
From the main entrance gate of the Lodge to the front of the Governor-General’s residence the carriage drive was lined on both sides with members of the Free State Army, while overhead circled aeroplanes of the Flying Corps . . .
Shortly after noon the Nuncio arrived. He was received by the Comptroller of the Household (Mr. J. Doyle), and conducted into the building, followed by his secretary, Monsignor Borgia.
Almost immediately an Army officer appeared at the door of the Lodge, and by a wave of a handkerchief intimated that the Nuncio was presenting his credentials. The signal was transmitted by a special telephone line to a battery stationed near the Wellington Monument, and a salute of nineteen guns was fired.
Here is a nice picture of the nuncio at the 1932 International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin with the then Fr. John Charles McQuaid, President of Blackrock College and future Archbishop of Dublin, to the left, and the new premier Éamon de Valera to the right.
The Standing Committee of the Irish hierarchy issued the following appeal at a meeting in Dublin on 29th April, 1919:
In response to an appeal made on their behalf by the Holy Father, we think it our duty to commend to the charity of our people the needs of our suffering fellow-Catholics in Palestine and Syria. Owing to the war, large numbers of them have been reduced to a state of extreme want, so much so that many have perished of famine and the survivors are still in a most pitiable condition.
Owing to the frequent calls made recently on our people, we do not find ourselves in a position to order a general collection, but if charitably disposed persons are willing to come to their aid, contributions may be sent to the Bishops of each diocese, who will forward them to the proper quarter.
I was very happy to read this. The monks must be delighted:
‘True cross’ relics returned to Tipperary
by GENEVIEVE CARBERY
Stolen relics of the ‘true cross’ were today returned by gardaí to the Holy Cross Abbey in Co Tipperary.
The three relics, believed to be part of the cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified, were stolen from the historic Cashel abbey last October.
The items were recovered by gardaí after searches in the midlands yesterday. The Garda investigation is ongoing.
The relics had been stolen by three men using an angle-grinder, hammer and screwdriver to forcibly open the steel display cabinet they were contained in.
Archbishop of Cashel and Emily Dermot Clifford said measures needed to be taken to protect the relics. It was “a mystery” why the items with little monetary value were stolen, he said.
It was “truly wonderful” that the “precious relics” had been found “relatively unharmed” he added.
Holy Cross parish priest Rev Tom J. Breen said locals, clergy and the abbey’s thousands pilgrims would be “overjoyed”. The return of the items “demonstrates the power of prayer,” he added.
One of the relics, authenticated by the Vatican as a piece of the cross used in Christ’s crucifixion, was handed over to the abbey in the 12th century by King Donal Mór O’Brien, while the other two were presented by St Peter’s Basilica in Rome in 1977.
Well the city certainly looked considerably more presentable back then. Take a look at some of these photos:
There is also a fantastic thread here full of old photos of Dublin. One could spend hours perusing it.
The National Library of Ireland has a great photo collection, with approximately 630,000 photos. You can view many of them online here.
(Incidentally 1961 was also the Patrician Year.)
A few months ago I informed readers that I had compiled an historical scrapbook on the Vatican II and liturgical reforms in the Church in Ireland and invited readers to receive a copy by email. Quite a few readers expressed interest and I sent them a copy. I also added their email addresses to a mailing list, so that they receive each new scrapbook I compile.
I send out a new scrapbook every few weeks or so. If you would like to subscribe and receive these scrapbooks, please email me at shanesemail2010atgmail.com (replace at with @)
Pope Pius XI gave the following discourse to the Irish National Pilgrimage in audience on 21 October, 1925, in response to an address of loyalty which they had presented:
This is not the first nor the only group of Irish people We have received during this wonderful Holy Year; for already We have welcomed many of Our dear Irish children, many from that dear land which has always been known to Us as the Island of Saints, the Emerald Isle, verdant as your pilgrimage banner, holy as the infinite number of your Saints. Great, indeed, was the joy with which We received so many of these our specially beloved children — nay more, We may add that Ireland is ever near unto Us, is ever at Our side in that dear and splendid representative, the Irish College, which We warmly cherish close at hand, as Our predecessors have done, ever vying with each other in demonstrating their good-will towards your national College, this special representation of a whole people, of a whole isle, of this well-beloved branch of the great Catholic family. How dear is this College to Us is a secret to none: dear, too, shall it ever remain; and glad shall We ever be to contribute even in a small way to its steady prosperity, so as to be able, even in Our own day, to see the number of Our dear Irish children increase within its walls, and become ever stronger and more representative of this Ireland of Ours.
This pilgrimage of yours, imposing in its numbers, remarkable in its membership, and led by the very head of the State, his Excellency, Mr. Cosgrave, whom We are glad to meet in this, the house of the common Father of Christendom, the worthy representative and worthy governor of a truly pious and Catholic people, this devout Catholic, who not only fittingly represents the faith and piety of his people, but furnishes in his own person an example which is all the finer because of the high position of him who gives it — this pilgrimage of yours, conducted by so many Bishops as to give the happy impression of being a sort of National Council — this pilgrimage of yours in which We notice such a fine representation of the clergy of Ireland, both secular and regular, those of advanced years, and those ripening under Our own eyes and near to Our own heart in this beloved Irish College of Ours, the hope of your people and hierarchy, and Our own cherished hope as well — this pilgrimage of yours in which We see passing before Us in review the representatives of all classes and all conditions — truly this fine pilgrimage, in a unique way, enables Us to imagine that all Ireland, fully and completely represented, is gathered in Our presence, and is kneeling at Our feet.
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On 24th September, 1921, Cardinal William O’Connell, Archbishop of Boston, sent the following cablegram on behalf of the Archbishops and Bishops of the U.S.A. to Cardinal Michael Logue, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland:
In this solemn and portentous hour of Ireland’s history, we, the Bishops of the United States, gathered in Annual Conference, feel it a duty incumbent on us to extend to your Eminence and your brethren of the Irish Hierarchy, an assurance of our sympathy, our prayers, and our united good wishes for the happy outcome of the Conference in which the representatives of your people are now engaged. Particularly at this time, we are not unmindful of the tremendous debt the Church in this country owes to Ireland and its people.
For more than a century millions of your race have come to our shores, and by their strong faith and their loyal and generous help they have built up a Church which has become the pride of Christendom and the glory of the country in which we dwell, and even though they have become loyal Americans faithful to the flag under which they dwell, time has never been able to extinguish in their souls the love they bore to the Land of their Fathers — to the little Island from which they parted as exiles destined never to return.
Particularly during recent years, with anxious and expectant hearts, they have watched the trend of events, ever hopeful that Providence in His wisdom might ordain that at last Ireland was to take its place among the nations of the earth. And, indeed, during these later weeks their hearts were filled with pride when they saw the representatives of their race conduct themselves with a statesmanship that has challenged the admiration of the world.
The Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle
Benedictine Adorers of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus
Our Monastery is dedicated to the traditional monastic life according to the Rule of Saint Benedict, and to intercession for the sanctification of priests, in adoration and reparation before the Eucharistic Face of Christ.
We were established during the Year of the Priest (2009-2010) by His Excellency, Most Reverend Edward J. Slattery, Bishop of Tulsa, Oklahoma.
By the grace of God, we have been invited by His Lordship, the Most Reverend Michael Smith, Bishop of Meath in Ireland, to move our fledgling community to County Meath, Ireland. God willing, we will complete this move in February 2012.
In my previous post on the Irish College of Leuven Fr Séan Coyle pointed out that the inscription on the College’s entrance, “Dochum Glóire Dé agus Ónóra na hÉireann” (“For the Glory of God and the Honour of Ireland”), was the motto of the old Irish Press newspaper (founded by Eamon de Valera in 1931; ceased print in 1995). I recently came across a postal stamp with the same motto on it from 1944. It is part of a series that was issued by the Irish state postal service, An Post, to commemorate the distinguished Franciscan lay-brother from Donegal, Michael O’Clery, under whose direction the Annals of the Four Masters was compiled. The stamp was designed by the Irish artist, Richard King, and shows the friar at work on the Annals. The series of stamps was in use up until the late ’60s.
Personally I find the design to be aesthetically unpleasing, but most of the old stamps issued by An Post are actually very beautiful and frequently display Catholic icons and images. I’ve included only a very small selection in this post. Here is the stamp issued to commemorate World Refugee Year in 1959 (see also the Irish hierarchy’s statement on same):
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Many thanks to Peadar Laighléis, President of the Latin Mass Society of Ireland, for permitting me to post his review of The Lost Revolution: The Story of the Official IRA and the Workers’ Party.
THE STICKIES HAVEN’T GONE AWAY, YOU KNOW
by Peadar Laighléis
Brandsma Review; November-December, 2010
THE LOST REVOLUTION: The Story of the Official IRA and the Workers’ Party. By Brian Hanley and Scott Millar. Penguin. 2010.
A friend began his best man’s speech by apologising for bringing the bridegroom late. The reason, he said, was that they couldn’t make up their minds whether to stick their roses on their lapels–or pin them on. The northern bride’s party laughed; as the southern groom’s party pondered. (For the benefit of the mystified, the joke will become clear shortly.)
The Irish Republican Army came into existence in 1916 and has claimed to be Ireland’s legitimate government since 1938. But there have been many IRAs. Trotskyite Saor Éire split from the IRA in 1967 and modelled themselves on organisations such as Baader-Meinhof in Germany and the Italian Brigate Rosse. Saor Éire caused havoc until their leader was killed by his own men in 1971. In December 1969 the defining schism took place between the Official IRA (OIRA) and the Provisional IRA (PIRA). The majority stayed with the OIRA, but the PIRA took more northern groups. The PIRA inflicted the most violence.
Ideologically, the Officials moved towards Marxist-Leninism; the Provisionals maintained traditional nationalism until drifting leftwards in the 1980s. The OIRA conducted a campaign in the North until their cease-fire in 1972. Following this, the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) broke away, becoming highly feared, until a feud with their own breakaway group, the Irish People’s Liberation Organisation, in the late 1980s. Later, the PIRA lost the Continuity IRA and the Real IRA.
The following statement was issued by the Most Rev. Michael Browne, Bishop of Galway and Kilmacduagh, on 14th March, 1958:
The fact that the Holy Father has cancelled the celebration of the anniversary of his coronation on March 12th, because of a decision given by the Civil Court in Florence against the Bishop of Prato is a striking proof that the Pope regards it as a very serious matter for the Church. For the present Pope is a diplomat, of a very calm and balanced temper, who would not take such strong public action without grave reason. What is the reason? It is a matter of concern to all Catholics.
In Italy the Communist Party is very strong since the War: one-third of the adult population, the voters, support it at elections. They are not all convinced Marxists or convinced Communists. They support it because it has control of many trade unions, and consequently of employment; and because it has great economic power and can dispense much business and patronage. Hence many join for material advantages, without giving up their Catholic faith. The Communist Party, however, is making strong efforts to insist that all members should break openly with religious practice and membership.
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One of my many bugbears in life is the highly exaggerated emphasis now placed on the (alleged) ‘uniqueness’ and ‘peculiarities’ of pre-conciliar Irish Catholicism. On the Catholic blogosphere the idea that the Irish Church in the 1950s was an insular, peasant-led, anti-intellectual, aliturgical backwater is particularly widespread. While I originally subscribed to this view myself I was forced to seriously question it in the course of my research and found it to be nothing more than a myth. Hibernicus made some excellent comments on this a few days ago at the Irish Catholics Forum (incidentally if you haven’t already registered there, you really should — the quality of discussion is excellent):
In regard to the people who complain to Shane that Ireland was not “really” Catholic like France – the nineteenth-century French experience was in some ways more like the Irish in the same period than we realise. Much of the French ecclesiastical infrastructure was smashed in the Revolutionary Era and had to be re-created from scratch; the religious orders had to be reintroduced and the process involved a certain amount of trial and error (for example, the Dominicans were brought back by LAcordaire and a section of the Order tried to adopt a very strict regimen of fasting ad experimentam, which eventually had to be abandoned because it left friars who adopted it incapable of carrying out their other duties; Gueranger had to re-create the Benedictines from a blank slate at Solesmes). The Cure d’Ars’ stamping out dancing in his parish and trying to re-create a full devotional life and revive sacramental observance was not all that different from Irish priests of the same era (except the latter would not have encountered such a strong current of anti-clericalism, which would have been seen as selling out to the Protestants). Similarly, excessive attention to French Catholic intellectuals and aristocrats tends to obscure the extent to which the congregations and personnel of French Catholicism came from the peasantry and the lower bourgeoisie; English commentators tended to say the same sort of things about the social background and mindset of the French lower clergy as they did about Maynooth priests.
And of course Irish Catholicism imported a lot of French devotional and spiritual practices in the nineteenth century, and even when these didn’t originate in France they were usually transmitted via France.
One other problem the “Irish Catholicism is not really Catholic as compared to traditional French Catholicism” brigade have is that Continental Catholic culture had some extremely dubious features which were not nearly as pronounced in Ireland. For example, when Sean O Faolain wrote about Irish Catholicism not being really Catholic like the Continentals, part of what he meant was that many Continental male Catholics thought it perfectly acceptable to cheat on your wife while going to Mass (as indeed O Faolain did on his 1940s Italian tour, on which he was accompanied by Honor Tracy, an English Catholic of Bohemian sensibilities. Hubert Butler said that Honor Tracy’s modus operandi was to present herself as a superior being to the English because she was a Catholic, while ignoring the bits of Catholicism that didn’t suit her and sneering at Irish Catholics for taking Catholicism seriously. That was one occasion when Hubert Butler was smack on the button.) Simone de Beauvoir, who was brought up in a devout Catholic family, said that one reason why she left the Church was that while she was expected to remain chaste until marriage and faithful afterwards, her brothers were expected – even encouraged – to fornicate and would have been considered odd had they not done so. This was not the universal attitude among French Catholics in the early C20, but it was pretty widespread.
Furthermore, at the time of the abolition of the French Concordat in 1905 (and indeed for some time before and after) Republican anti-clericals made a big song and dance about allegations of priest-teachers abusing boys in Catholic schools and of ill-treatment of inmates in Catholic convent laundries (i.e. Magdalen laundries – these were not a purely French or Catholic invention, there were Protestant-run Magdalen asylums in Ireland and Britain in the C18 and C19). I know about this because British and Irish ultra-Protestants picked up on these reports (that sort of ultra-Protestant was always willing to ally with Continental atheists against Catholicism) and I have read some of their material. Admittedly, the Republican anti-clericals were pretty unscrupulous (I have noted elsewhere that some scholars have noted analogies between the imagery of classic anti-semitism and of French anti-clericalism) but I would be surprised if all these reports were fabrications.
The idea that C19 French traditionalist Catholicism is somehow the gold standard of authenticity by which all others must be judged is pretty shoddy IMHO. Every age is equidistant from God.
The following is the eighth section of a report on the state of religion in Ireland presented to the Sacred Congregation for Propaganda on 4th February, 1623, by Dr. Eugene Matthews, the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin. It gives an interesting and impassioned account of the horrendous injustices inflicted on the Irish Catholics in the reign of King James I, first Stuart monarch of the newly united realm of Great Britain. The tyrannical and genocidal policies pursued by the Stuart kings in Ireland probably exceed in cruelty those of the Hanoverians, or even the Tudors. I have never been able to understand why the Stuarts are so romanticized on much of the Catholic blogosphere, given their long record of heartless inhumanity in Ireland. (The fact that Cromwell was worse is no excuse.)
Although from the very commencement of the schism we have been constantly in the battle-field, and, with the exception of the momentary repose enjoyed during the reign of Catholic Mary, have been unceasingly exposed to the attacks of our persecutors, yet so severe are their late assaults, that, in comparison, all their preceding efforts sink into insignificance. Of this persecution I myself have been a witness and a sharer, and I shall briefly commemorate a few of its chief heads.
Some years ago the heretics strained every nerve to introduce into Ireland those laws which the English parliament enacted against the Catholics of England, and to resuscitate the penal code which had been surreptitiously passed at the beginning of Elizabeth’s reign. A parliament was summoned to attain these ends. The government again sought by every art and violence to secure the election of English or Scotch heretical soldiers. Lest our Catholics might prevail by their numbers, new English and Scotch colonies were planted, and endowed with the privilege of representation. [Following the exile of the Irish Catholic princes Hugh O'Neill and Hugh Roe O'Donnell, who were intending to solicit help from the King of Spain, James I quickly proceeded to confiscate their territories and undertook the Plantation of Ulster, whereby most of the province was colonised with English-speaking Protestant settlers from England and the Scottish lowlands. Ulster had hitherto been the portion of Ireland most insubordinate to English rule and its systematic repopulation with British Protestants was a major milestone in the British conquest of Ireland. Under the terms of the Plantation, the natives, almost all of whom remained Catholic, were banned from buying or renting from the new owners, and the dispossessed Irish, now helplessly deprived of their traditional leaders and exiled to the hills and mountainous areas, frequently attacked the new proprietors for decades afterwards, culminating in the Irish Rebellion of 1641. The legacy of the Plantation remains very much with us to this day, and is reflected in the partition of Ireland - Northern Ireland's Protestant majority, who are mostly descended from the original planters, espouse a very militant British identity, while its Catholic minority are descended from the native Irish and retain a strong Irish identity. - Shane.]
Moreover, a number of titles were conferred on various heretics, whilst the remonstrances of the Catholics were unheeded. Nevertheless, no counsel can prevail against the Lord. All the heretical efforts were fruitless; and so strenuously did the Catholics defend their sacred cause, that their adversaries did not dare even to propose the penal statutes. The heretics had then recourse to royal prerogative, that thus, without any form of law or justice, they might riot against the Catholics; and so violent is the storm of persecution which they have thus excited, that it almost baffles description.
1. All Catholics are removed from the administration of affairs, and even the smallest offices are given to heretics and schismatics, who may with impunity persecute the Catholics according to their fancies.
2. No Catholic can hold property throughout the entire kingdom; everything is seized on by heretical colonists, and the ejected Catholic proprietors cannot even live as servants on those lands of which they are the masters by hereditary right. For the heretics have learned by experience that there is no people in the world so attached to the faith of their fathers as are the Irish, in defence of which they often had recourse to arms, and risked their fortunes and lives. Seeing, therefore, that penal laws could not suffice to destroy their devotion to the Catholic religion, they had recourse to new arts, and by a disastrous counsel commenced to fill the country with English and Scotch colonies; whilst at the present time, in consequence of the treaties entered into with the continental states, the Irish can hope for no assistance from other powers. Thus, then, the natives, though unaccused of any crime, are, without colour of justice, without any feeling of humanity, without any fear of Him who will punish the oppressors, expelled from the homes of their fathers and from their hereditary estates. Sometimes they are driven to other parts of the kingdom, where small portions of land are assigned to them for their maintenance; sometimes they are compelled to fly from the island, and seek support by entering the armies of the Continent. Heretics being thus introduced into the Catholic lands, a great part of the kingdom is polluted with their sacrilegious impieties; and unless God may avert the dire calamity, the ancient faith will be banished from the whole island. As this evil is propagated by brute force, and as our people have neither skill nor power to cope with our enemies, we must wholly rely for its remedy on the mercy of God.
3. Ministers and preachers were sought out everywhere in Scotland and England, and sent here to pervert our Catholics.
4. All benefices and other ecclesiastical property were, from the beginning, seized on by the heretics. In each diocese there is a pseudo-bishop, and in each parish a pseudo-minister.
5. The Catholics are compelled to repair, for heretical worship, the churches and chapels which these iconoclasts themselves had destroyed.
6. The pseudo-clergy not only seize on all the revenues, but exact payment for the sacraments of baptism and marriage, even when they are administered by the Catholic priests; the sum thus exacted sometimes amounts to four guineas or more, according to the will of the Protestant ministers, who make no account of the poverty and misery of the people. In addition to these exactions, a salary was lately assigned to a certain heretic, to be levied on the births, marriages, and deaths of the Catholics.
7. Four times in the year questors are appointed to explore the Catholics throughout the whole kingdom, and impose fines on all who absent themselves from the heretical sermons and communion. As this fine is not defined by law, the judges and questors display great earnestness and avarice in exacting it, through hatred of our holy religion.
8. On each Sunday, each Catholic father of a family is obliged to pay a pecuniary fine for himself and for each Catholic member of his family. This fine is exacted without mercy even from the poorest labourers.
9. The pseudo-bishops have introduced a new system of excommunicating, indeed, the Catholics; from which excommunication the Catholic cannot be freed, except by recognizing the spiritual authority of these bishops, and thus sacrificing their own faith. Those thus excommunicated are liable to arrest; and should they die, are interred in unconsecrated ground.
10. Those who assist at Mass, incur a penalty of one hundred marks.
11. All our gentry and nobility are obliged to send their heirs to be educated and perverted in England.
12. None of the nobility are now allowed to succeed to their paternal inheritance, without first taking the oath of royal supremacy: otherwise they and their posterity are deprived of their revenues, and thus the dreadful alternative is presented to them of perversion or poverty.
13. It is interdicted to the Catholics to teach school either in public or in private; on the other hand, heretical masters are hired in every diocese, and paid from the revenue of some benefices, to pervert our youth and imbue them with heresy. In fact, the heretics have obstructed every avenue by which our youth could receive instruction in this kingdom; and by their severe penalties and rigorous searches, they seek to render it impossible for any Catholic teacher to remain in the country. Moreover, having created a university in the city of Dublin, the seat of the viceroy and the capital of the whole kingdom, they employ every artifice to attract our children to its schools. Indeed, they could not possibly devise any scheme more iniquitous than that of thus corrupting our youth.
14. The Catholic cities are deprived of their ancient liberties, privileges, and rights, and are reduced to the rank of towns, unless they elect heretics as their mayors and aldermen, or, at least, select such persons as the heretics approve of, as lately happened to the city of Waterford, which holds the second place in the kingdom for its strength and opulence.
…to all my readers. And a happy new year!
I’ve now been blogging for one year and four months. When I started this blog I had expected to stay at it for just a few weeks! I don’t know how much longer I’ll continue but I hope you’ll keep reading until then.
When Spain, which was then the world’s most powerful empire, planned invasions (or liberations if you prefer) of Ireland in the course of the sixteenth century, one of the dilemmas it was confronted with was confusion over exactly what type of polity would be established in Ireland after a successful Spanish invasion. In an age of imperial expansion, the status quo had become a perilous anachronism. The fratricidal warfare of the native kingdoms and the lack of administrative unity left the country dangerously susceptible to colonial re-conquest. Would, therefore, Ireland become an overseas territory of the King of Spain, represented in Ireland by a viceroy, or would Ireland be granted its own monarch? The Irish nobles and bishops seem to have had little problem in principle with either prospect; the immediate priority for them was centered on repelling English Protestant operations. (It’s also important to note that the strong religious ties between both countries, as well as a shared enemy, buttressed by the then very strong Irish self-conception of being descended from King Milesius of Spain, meant that Spain was not really perceived by them as a foreign power at all, and prospective Spanish rule was acceptable in ways which English rule never conceivably could be.)
A solution was agreed by the Irish nobles whereby Don John of Austria (in picture above), brother of King Philip II of Spain and son of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, would become King of Ireland. (Don John is most famous for having saved Europe from the Ottoman Turks in the battle of Lepanto.) In a letter to their ambassador at the Spanish Court, Maurice Fitzgibbon, Archbishop of Cashel, (you can read the letter in full here — see also this distinct but related petition to King Philip II from the Irish bishops and nobles) they re-affirm their loyalty to King Philip, stress the perils of disunity in the face of English aggression and confirm their request that the King’s brother be made King of Ireland:
…According to certain Englishmen of the [Privy] Council of England, who have favoured us, albeit clandestinely, it is the intention of the Queen [Elizabeth I] to seek peace with His Majesty [King Philip II of Spain] in order that he may not be moved by his wonted benevolence to realize our danger and to assist us. His Majesty ought to reflect that such a proposal by the English would not be to his advantage but is in fact put forward simply in order the more effectively to ruin us and all Catholics. Having considered among ourselves and with our council this most difficult and important matter, it appears to us that Your Grace should approach His Majesty with a request that his most honourable brother, Don John of Austria, should be proclaimed our King. We would engage ourselves to be His Majesty’s most faithful subjects and vassals, as we have promised in our letters. Concerning all this we have written to the said Don John a letter which Your Grace will hand to him. You will discuss not only with His Majesty but also with the said Don John these intricate affairs so that he may send us his reply to our petition. If it be granted, we trust to God that as soon as Don John sets foot in Ireland all our people will give him their allegiance and will make him not only King of Ireland but also of other provinces which we will subject to his rule. For if we had a King like other nations none would venture to attack us, on account of the spirit of our people in war, the stoutness of their hearts, and the fertility of their soil. Because we have not a King and are divided among ourselves the English attack and rob us daily, and we suffer grievously as a result. Your Grace well knows how they sow enmity between two brothers in order to destroy them individually and seize their possessions… (1)
While in Lisbon in 1574 the papal nuncio to Ireland, Father David Wolfe, S.J., was commissioned by Don Juan de Borja, the Spanish ambassador to Portugal, to write a Description of Ireland for King Philip II. Fr Wolfe’s work offers a fascinating and comprehensive topography of all the regions of Ireland. In his general overview of the whole of Ireland, he laments in his final conclusion that “one thing alone is lacking in that realm, namely, a Christian King, zealous of the honour of God, who should ever reside in the realm and constrain idle men to work, and chastise the wicked and base, and reward the good and virtuous” and prays that “God give the country a King after His own heart, and not after our transgressions.” He devotes his efforts so that “his Catholic Majesty should not let slip the opportunity of taking so good and beautiful a kingdom.” His section on how Ireland is to be successfully invaded puts heavy emphasis on the necessity for Don John to be crowned King of Ireland in order to put an end to Irish factionalism and to exile the ‘English heretics’ out of Ireland:
In all the island of Ireland, Meath alone excepted, I am sure that no single hundred is to be found but there is war therein: it is village against village, hundred against hundred, brother against brother, kinsman against kinsman; ergo, all that realm, thus divided, is already at the mercy of whosoever chooses to take it.
Believing as I do, that his Majesty desires not so much to extend his temporal dominion as to exalt the glory of Christ, and to extirpate the Lutheran pest from His holy church, and plant there the true Catholic and Apostolic faith, I therefore deem it very expedient, nay, rather, necessary, that he should have the authority and commission (that which was originally granted to Henry, King of England being revoked) of the Apostolic See to enter with an armed force that realm of Ireland, it being, as I have already said, the patrimony of St. Peter. With this authority and commission from the Supreme Pontiff, it would be well that his Catholic Majesty should, as indeed all the lords and nobles of Ireland desire and are fain that he should, ordain and appoint his brother, Don John of Austria, king of that realm. This I am prompted to say for many reasons, the first and chief being the honour of God, since, his Highness being zealous for the Christian and Catholic religion, I doubt not that he would reform the Church of Ireland.
I am also prompted by the advantage to the commonweal of the realm, because, as under the eye of the master the horse waxes stout, so under the eye of the King the realm waxes stout and strong and peaceful, while on the other hand in his absence, dissensions, discords, rebellions, poverty and other innumerable evils are engendered, as is plainly visible in that same realm of Ireland, which has lacked the presence of a King for more than 400 years.
Herein I am also prompted by this, that his Majesty, being standard-bearer and captain general of the Church of God, and having by God’s grace gained several victories over the infidels that are chief among the enemies of God and His Holy Church, has well earned the right to have some reward of the Church, nor know I what reward she could more readily give him than that royal crown of Ireland, which is her own. All other provinces of the Church are already given to other Christian princes; that province of Ireland alone is left; and I doubt not that God has kept it for Don John, and that the Supreme Pontiff will grant him that realm, if his Catholic Majesty will crave and solicit it; for the son of so good a father as was Charles V, the brother and most loyal servant of so great a king as the Catholic King, and the standard-bearer and champion of so holy and pious a mother as the Roman Church, deserves no less a dignity than a royal crown, for thereby are enhanced at once the glory of the father, the honour of the brother, and the dignity and worshipfulness of the mother.
I am furthermore prompted thus to utter my mind by the consideration that his Catholic Majesty’s council would not suffer him to diminish his ancestral inheritance to aggrandize that noble knight, his brother Don John; and so Ireland would be to the purpose. Moreover, the lords of Ireland do not gladly welcome or obey Viceroys, because in truth hitherto the Viceroys of that realm, and indeed Viceroys everywhere else, as one sees in the Indies of Portugal and elsewhere, do nought else but pick and steal the wealth of the kingdom, and at the end of four or five years depart with their bags full; and fresh gifts and presents must be forthcoming for the new Viceroys and Presidents, so that they have despoiled the realm of its wealth. Wherefore the folk of Ireland yearn to have a king in the realm to defend them, and to whom they can yield obedience; and above all they desire for their King Don John, hearing tell of his good repute and fortune, and of his zeal for the honour of God.
Furthermore, I say that in my opinion if Don John were created King of Ireland, he would be a great scourge and terror to the heretics of England, because they hold it to be predicted that the ruin of England is to begin in Ireland. The prophecy in the English tongue is as follows: He that will England win, let him in Ireland begin.
Moreover, the creation and coronation of Don John as King of Ireland would be a great blow to the Flemish heretics, because the victuals and munitions which the Lady Elizabeth is wont daily to send to them in Flanders she would keep in her realm for fear of being attacked in some quarter or another by Don John and the Irish, who would be glad enough to ravage England.
Should his Catholic Majesty deem this business inopportune by reason of the war against the Turk with which Don John is occupied at present, I say that by the authority of the Supreme Pontiff he might readily take possession of that realm with the forces of the Holy League, and having received the oath of fealty with hostages from the lords and nobles of the realm, and left there his Viceroy and munitions in the cities and fortresses, might turn his attention to the war against the Turk.
The lords of Ireland, and also many Englishmen are firmly persuaded that Don John has already received the royal crown of the realm of Ireland from the Supreme Pontiff, and they anticipate with the utmost delight the time when they shall welcome and embrace him as their king.
Sixteenth-century Irish history is abundant with lost opportunities and ‘What ifs?’. But surely this must be among the most heartbreaking?
(1) Falls, Cyril (1997). Elizabeth’s Irish Wars. NY: Syracuse University Press. pp. 140-141.
To Our well-beloved Son, the Noble Con O’Neill, Prince of the Irish in Ulster.
Beloved Son, Health and Apostolic Benediction —
We have received your Lordship’s letter, dated on the Vigil of All Saints, and brought to us by Our son, your Raymond, who explained matters to us most fully by word of mouth. Our soul has been variously affected by the things We have learned. We have heard with the greatest grief how a modern king [Henry VIII - shane] ravages your Island with the most wanton cruelty and tramples on the honour of God. On the other hand, when We perceived from your letter and from the words of Raymond, that you are the defender of God’s honour, of the Roman Church, and of the Catholic Religion, We exulted with the feelings and joy of a fatherly love.
Therefore, Beloved Son, do We praise you as you deserve, and commend you in the Lord God, whom We thank for having endowed you with so much valour and piety, and for having given you to us at this time, for the preservation of that Island; and We pray to Him that He may preserve you to us for a long time. We have taken that anxious care of you, which We owe to you and to the other defenders of the Catholic Faith. Wherefore in the Almighty We exhort your Lordship, and all the people of Ireland, who look up to your authority and piety, to persevere in the Catholic Religion, which you have received from your Forefathers, and have preserved down to these times with the greatest constancy, and in a manner worthy of yourselves and of the true faithful of Christ. We love that Island with particular charity, and wish it to be preserved in the old worship of holy Faith; and we will never forsake your Lordship, and the others, who imitate your piety, as you shall understand more fully from John and Alonzo our Nuncios, and from your agent Raymond.
Given at Rome, the 24th of April, 1541, the Seventh Year of Our Pontificate.