Category Archives: Patrician Year (1961)
Patrician Year (1961): Archbishop McQuaid on the Conclusion of the Dublin Congress
The following letter from the Most Rev. John Charles McQuaid, Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland, was read out in all the churches of the Archdiocese of Dublin on Sunday, July 9th, 1961:
Very Reverend and Dear Father,
I wish to thank you for your share in the success of the Dublin Congress of the Patrician Year. I am grateful for the spiritual preparation that you organised in your parish.
It is a duty, but very much more a privilege, to thank the Faithful for their most generous co-operation. The very great numbers of those who went to Confession and received Holy Communion are an immediate proof of the Faith with which our appeal was answered. The marked place in the Congress taken by young persons, boys and girls, is to me perhaps the most consoling feature of all the week, for where the youth are interested, the future is secure.
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Patrician Year (1961): Cardinal D’Alton’s Pastoral Letter
Cardinal D’Alton enters Croke Park on the final day of the Dublin Congress, 25th June, 1961
The following letter from Cardinal John D’Alton, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, was read out in all the churches of the Archdiocese of Armagh on Sunday, 12th March, 1961:
In a few days time Ireland will begin the solemn commemoration of the fifteenth centenary of the death of St. Patrick. Here in St. Patrick’s own city of Armagh the Irish people, represented by dignitaries from the four provinces of the land, will give thanks to God for the Saint who came to us over fifteen hundred years ago and brought us the gift ‘more precious than gold,’ of the Catholic faith. On that day too, Ireland will be joined by Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops from all over the world who are coming to share our joy and to unite with the Irish people in giving thanks to God for all that He has done for Ireland through Saint Patrick and for the Church through Ireland.
Above all, the occasion will be crowned with the presence of the special Legate, His Eminence Cardinal McIntyre, whom our beloved Holy Father is graciously sending to us to preside, in his name, over the solemn ceremonies. The successor of Pope Celestine who, over fifteen hundred years ago, sent his missionary to pagan Ireland, to-day sends his own Legatus a latere to an Ireland which has remained faithful through the centuries to the words of her great Apostle: ut Christiani ita et Romani sitis.
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Change in Irish Catholicism: Some Reminiscences
Many thanks to Fr. Seán Coyle for these fascinating reminiscences:
Vatican II and the Church in Ireland:
The Irish bishops seemed to convey a sense of obedience: ‘This is what we’ve been asked to do so we’ll do it’. As I recall, they didn’t keep the people particularly well informed about the Council. Those who did were journalists as Kevin O’Kelly of RTE, Sean Mac Reamoinn [see here – Shane] and Louis McRedmond. All of these were committed Catholics even if the first two might have leaned towards the ‘liberal’ side’. This is not a negative comment. I’m not sure about Louis McRedmond, whether he was ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’. These were journalists of integrity.
My Dad was a daily Massgoer and a man of habit but I never heard him comment on the change. He was also a builder’s foreman and when the EEC, as it then was, introduced metric measures into building he took it in his stride.
In the Archdiocese of Dublin Archbishop McQuaid ordered that one Mass every Sunday be in Irish. Someone said to him ‘You are starting a revolution!’ He replied. ‘No, preventing a rebellion!’ Some criticised having a Mass in Irish. This used to raise my hackles as it was usually from the kind of person who had ‘always gone to the 9 o’clock Mass and I don’t understand this language’ and who would never consider the possibility of going to Mass at 7, 8, 10, 11 or 12! [see also: Liturgical Reform in Ireland – Shane]
The introduction of English Masses in one or two breac-Gaeltacht parishes has caused great controversy on occasion.
Patrician Year (1961): Pontifical High Mass at Croke Park, 25th June
I was on duty that day outside Croke Park as a member of the Congress Volunteer Corps, a group of Fifth and Sixth Year students from Catholic boys’ schools in Dublin. I had just finished my Leaving Cert in nearby O’Connell Schools. You can see members of the CVC in the video. The uniform was simple: dark trousers and white shirt, which we provided ourselves, a beret – yellow for those without any special jobs and other colours for those with specific responsibilities – epaulettes and a stick. The stick wasn’t to beat anyone with but could be helpful in crowd control, indicating a line. One of the members of the CVC was the now Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.
One memory I have of that morning is seeing Sean T. O’Kelly, then in retirement, Frank Aiken and one or two other older members of Fianna Fail getting out of a very modest car. They got a big cheer from those nearby. Sean T was a very popular man and gave a wonderfully entertaining talk at the National Stadium during the Congress. He had everyone eating out of his hand. [see also this delightful clip of President O’Kelly going to Mass and the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin on 17th March, 1950 – Shane] May they all rest in peace.
One thing I remember vividly was the 90,000 raising the roof with Credo III. I also felt an outsider, ( I don’t mean because I was outside the stadium) as I had never been taught it in 14 years in Catholic schools. The singing raised the hairs on the back of my neck.
The CVC, organised by the late Monsignor Tom Fehily, was formally disbanded by Taoiseach Sean Lemass outside Dublin Airport after Cardinal Agagianian flew back to Rome. However, it was soon to become the Archbishop’s Volunteer Corps that was to be involved in various projects in the Archdiocese of Dublin. It was later opened to girls. I’ve an idea that the AVC is no more but am not sure.
Some of us went on the Dublin Diocesan Pilgrimage to Beauraing, Belgium, that August, a wonderful experience. We were subsidised by the Archdiocese and paid only £5, which even in those days was a great bargain. We did ceremonial duty in Beauraing. The present Archbishop of Dublin was in the group that travelled.
Commenting on a previous post, Keiran Fagan also helpfully noted:
I was there too, only I had a red beret, as I was a “minder”, aide de camp Fr Tom Fehilly called it, for Cardinal Paolo Marella. It was a seriously cool gig for a 16-year-old, riding around in the front of a big Austin Princess limo, opening doors for the cardinal and making sure nobody, not even a reverend mother, got to put milk in his inevitable cup of tea. I saw up close John Charles McQuaid and Eamon de Valera who was totally blind by then. John Charles had three great cars, a Citroen Light 15 (Maigret had one) a Hudson Fluid Drive limo with eight cylinders I think, and a beautiful Citroen DS. I even got to sit in the back of Dev’s 1947 or 8 blue Rolls Royce ZJ 5000 while it was parked in the yard in Dublin Castle. Great times, but I don’t recall any religious epiphany moments. Says more about me than anything else I reckon.
Writing in 1974, John Feeney (the late journalist and editor of The Catholic Standard) described the Patrician Year Congress as the summit of Dr. McQuaid’s tenure as Archbishop of Dublin. Feeney was very much a Vatican II Catholic. At UCD he founded the ecumenical Student Christian Movement. He also became chairman of Pax Romana and leader of Grille, a left-wing Christian movement. As a leading Catholic radical, Feeney had reason more than most to resent McQuaid’s conservative views. Nevertheless in a critically sympathetic biography, he gives a largely positive assessment of the archbishop’s legacy and challenges some of the lazy caricatures then being propounded by vituperative critics.
Feeney contrasts the pre-revolutionary tranquility that characterized the Patrician Year celebrations in 1961 with the post-conciliar chaos soon to emerge. He believed that the Irish Catholic laity and hierarchy were deeply attached to the old order and were ‘oblivious to the vast changes in the whole world outlook of Catholics which was to come’: “There was little evidence after the election in 1958 of Pope John that the nature of Catholicism would change greatly…matters were much the same as ever for the majority of Irish Catholics. They had a saintly, loveable Pope who commanded respect but there was little understanding of the new thinking he was initiating…almost three years after the election of Pope John, there seemed to be little change in Dublin…the success and triumphs of the 1950s continued.” The faithful, Feeney asserts, responded enthusiastically to the Congress with “a mixture of nationalism, religious fervour and civic pride” and he quotes the pious report of the Irish Catholic Directory: “A majestic carillon pealed, a silver-voiced fanfare of military trumpets sounded in Royal Salute, ninety thousand lips moved in silent prayer.” For Feeney, the Patrician Year celebrations give “a glittering bejewelled spectacle of Catholic life just before the Council — it was a garden party before the outbreak of war, before the realities of the Church in the world impinged too strongly on Ireland.”
Patrician Year (1961): Éamon de Valera’s Address to Pope John XXIII
President Éamon de Valera gave the following address to Bl. Pope John XXIII when presenting the Holy Father with a replica of St. Patrick’s Bell and Shrine, on the occasion of the President’s visit to the Vatican for the closing of the Patrician Year:
Primam, quod sciamus, Sancti Patricii Campanae mentionem reddit commentarius pro anno 552 in veteribus illis fastis Hibernicis qui Annales intitulantur Ulidiae. Gadelice quidem scriptus Latine incipit ‘sic in libro Cuanach inveni,’ et hoc sensu vertitur — ‘Annis sexaginta post obitum Sancti Patricii reliquias scrinio imposuit Colum Cille. Splendidi thesauri tumulo inventi sunt tres, scilicet calix, Evangelium Angeli, et Campana Testamenti. Quae singula pro Colum Cille in hunc modum Angelus distribuit: calicem Duno, Campanam Testamenti Ard Macha, Evangelium Angeli ipsi Colum Cille. Angeli vero hac de causa nuncupatur Evangelium quia recepit Colum Cille de manu Angeli.’
Parum quidem compertum quomodo inventa sit campana, quidve Clocc in Aidhechta vel Campana Testamenti nominata; quin tamen revera sit antiqua ac genuina nemo dubitat.
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Patrician Year (1961): The Arrival of Cardinal Agagianian
The Cardinal Legate greeted by the Taoiseach and the Abp. of Dublin
The papal legate for the Patrician Congress, Cardinal Grégoire-Pierre Agagianian, was given a spectacular reception when he arrived in Dublin on Saturday, 17th June, 1961. Travelling in the Aer Lingus Boeing Jet Padraig he landed in Dublin Airport (profusely decorated in papal and Irish flags and emblems) at approximately 12.45 p.m.
In the Padraig’s Golden Shamrock compartment, which was reserved for the Legate’s suite and the Dublin escorting party, a special Decal of the Papal Arms was fitted to honour the Legate. After boarding the plane in Rome, he was greeted by Arthur Walls, General Sales Manager of the airline, with an illuminated welcome scroll in a polished oak case, bearing the inscription “CÉAD MÍLE FÁILTE”. Upon arriving off the Irish coast his plane was escorted by four Vampire Jets under the command of Commandant G. O’Connor. After the plane had been joined by the escorts, a special message of welcome from the Most Rev. John Charles McQuaid, Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland, was flashed from Dublin Airport. As soon as the Cardinal alighted from the plane, the jet escort flew over the airport and dipped wings twice in salute. The papal anthem was played by the Number One Army Band and a 21-gun salute was thundered out by the 10th Battery of the 2nd Field Artillery Regiment from McKee Barracks under Captain Hugh McGrillen.
Upon his descent from the plane, the Legate was met at the bottom of the steps by the Archbishop of Dublin, who introduced him to prominent dignitaries, including the Taoiseach [Prime Minister] Seán Lemass, the Tánaiste [Deputy Prime Minister] Seán MacEntee, the Papal Nuncio, and the Minister for External Affairs, Frank Aiken.
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Patrician Year (1961): Irish Hierarchy Announce Celebrations
The Irish hierarchy issued the following statement in 1960 at their October meeting in St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth:
The Hierarchy propose to celebrate in 1961 the fifteenth centenary of the death of Saint Patrick, the most commonly accepted date for the death of the Saint being 461 A.D. The opening ceremony is planned for St. Patrick’s Day in the Primatial City of Armagh, so closely associated in Irish tradition with the life and work of our National Apostle. The ceremony will be followed, it is hoped, by other celebrations arranged by direction of the local Ordinaries, in places particularly associated with St. Patrick, such as the holy mount of Croagh Patrick, or noted as centres of especial devotion to the Saint, such as St. Patrick’s Purgatory, Lough Derg.
Eminent dignitaries from abroad, especially from dioceses or institutions under the patronage of St. Patrick, will be invited to participate in the national celebrations. Invitations will be extended also to representatives of continental centres of Patrician devotion, and to representatives of countries evangelised by Irish missionaries.
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Patrician Year (1961): Missalette for Pontifical High Mass at Croke Park, 25th June
click above to read in full (pdf)
CLICK HERE to watch newsreel of the Mass.
CLICK HERE to listen to William Nelson presenting a silver trowel to His Eminence the Papal Legate. (“…a petition to Mary, the Mother of God, for her continued assistance in our struggle against atheistic communism…”)
Patrician Year (1961): Bl. John XXIII’s Letter to the Irish Hierarchy
To Our Beloved Son
John Cardinal D’Alton
Archbishop of Armagh
And to Our Venerable Brothers
The Archbishops and Bishops of Ireland
Beloved Son and Venerable Brothers, Health and Apostolic Benediction.
Holy Church, founded by Christ Jesus to free mankind from death, shines throughout the world by her sanctity, is nourished by grace, lives by truth and, in the words of Saint Irenaeus, “as the sun, God’s creature, is one and the same in the whole world, so the light, which the preaching of truth is, shines forth in every place and enlightens all men” (Adv. Haer. 1, 10, 2; MG f. 552). This preaching of truth, Beloved Son and Venerable Brothers, is a special glory of your country — for through the centuries its distinguishing mark has always been: “peregrinari pro Christo”. Irish priests and religious, as is well known, from the coming of the Gospel message to their land, spurred on by the splendid example of Saint Patrick, your illustrious Father and Apostle, went forth and made their way through many European lands to bring them the flame of faith and an unconquerable zeal in winning souls for Christ.
The genius of your nation has won for the Church in Ireland imperishable renown and admiration among the many peoples who owe their Christian origin and development to the burning love of Irish Apostles and to their active priestly ministry. These Catholic people in themselves are a manifest and an eloquent testimony to Catholic Ireland’s missionary character; they show it forth to the whole world and add splendour to its titles to glory.
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Patrician Year (1961): Bl. John XXIII on the Irish Church
The following letter was addressed to Cardinal John D’Alton, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All-Ireland, on the occassion of the opening of the Patrician Year celebrations, 17th March, 1961.
The fifteenth centenary of the death of Saint Patrick, the Apostle of the Irish, is about to be celebrated with fitting solemnity throughout Ireland, particularly in his own episcopal city.
As soon as We learned of this forthcoming celebration, We desired to extend Our warm congratulations to you, Beloved Son, and to your zealous colleagues in the hierarchy, on your intelligent foresight and on your zeal for religion. Because one result of this commemoration will be — as We confidently hope and believe — that greater attention will be focused on recording events of the saint’s life and the sterling Irish people will be moved, as they see more clearly the incomparable benefits which Saint Patrick brought them, to imitate his example and to follow his footsteps in leading their Christian lives.
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Patrician Year (1961): Cardinal Cushing on St. Patrick and the Irish Catholic People
The above video features clips of the opening of the Patrician Year celebrations, 17th March, 1961, marked by Pontifical High Mass in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh. The celebrant was the papal legate, Cardinal James Francis McIntyre, Archbishop of Los Angelus.
Irish state dignitaries were very prominent in attendance, not least President Éamonn de Valera and the Taoiseach [Prime Minister] Séan Lemass. Church prelates and state leaders, escorted by prominent local clergy, walked in solemn procession towards the Cathedral, walking past vast, cheering crowds. President De Valera was seated in a special blue and gold draped prie-dieu, affixed with the national emblem of a golden harp, while Mr. Lemass was also accorded a special prie-dieu. As Cardinal McIntyre entered through the massive oak doors, the cathedral organ thundered out the papal hymn Tu es Petrus, and His Eminence proceeded through the highly colourful and lavishly decorated cathedral to the marble-canopied throne on the Gospel side of the high altar, where he occupied a seat upholstered by white silk, affixed with the papal coat of arms on the reverse. Prelates attending included multitudes of abbots and bishops from all over the world, 50 archbishops and 4 Cardinals: Cardinal McIntyre, Cardinal John D’Alton, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All-Ireland, Cardinal William Godfrey, Archbishop of Westminster, and Cardinal Richard Cushing, Archbishop of Boston.
Cardinal Cushing, Archbishop of Boston, gave the following sermon:
“Their sound has gone forth unto all the earth: and their words unto the ends of the world.” (Psalm 18, Verse 5)
The theme of Ireland’s holy and historic celebration this year has been taken from the text by which the liturgy proclaims the glory and the triumph of all the Apostles. No more appropriate text could have been chosen to commemorate the incomparable Apostle to Ireland and to pay tribute to the apostolic spirit that St. Patrick inspired in the Irish people.
The text proper to the Apostles is deservedly applied to him, for St. Patrick takes his place beside the greatest and most glorious of the Apostles.
Patrician Year (1961): Bl. John XXIII’s Address on St. Patrick
Addressing a congregation of 500 in the Consistorial Hall of the Vatican after Mass on the 17th March 1961, the Holy Father gave the following address:
Dia is Muire dhibh is Pádraig.
On this day, the faithful people of Ireland, in their own beloved country and in every part of the world, are celebrating the liturgical feast of Saint Patrick, the fearless apostle and father of their faith, in the fifteenth centenary of his holy death.
You, beloved children of the Irish colony in Rome, have wished to gather in prayer at the altar of the Divine Sacrifice, around the humble successor of Saint Peter. With great pleasure did We accede to your filial desire: not only in order to render this occasion memorable, but especially in order to bear open witness to the esteem and affection which We cherish in Our heart for your glorious nation.
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