Letter of Pope Paul III to Con O’Neill (24th April, 1541)
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.