Wednesday 24 June 2020

Our Martyrs IV

In the final paper Father Murphy concludes with a comprehensive and useful introduction to the historic written sources used in the cause of the Irish martyrs. As was noted in the previous post, some valuable corroborating testimony is provided by hostile witnesses, as was the case in the execution of Bishop Conor O'Devany. Yet it is in the writings of Irishmen at home and abroad as well as in the writings of other contemporary continental observers that the accounts of the suffering endured by the Irish martyrs was preserved.

OUR MARTYRS.—(Concluded.)

IN the April number of the I. E. Record I gave a brief sketch of a few of the earlier writers to whom we are indebted for the history of our martyrs. In resuming the subject now, I will begin with one who cannot be called a historian in any sense of the word; but yet his testimony on their behalf is of the highest value. This is a certain Barnaby Ryche. On the title-page of his book he is styled "Gentleman, servant to the King's Most Excellent Majesty." In what capacity he served his Majesty, we do not know; but from his narrative it is evident that he was an eye-witness of what he relates. At page 5 of his book, which, by the way, is in great part controversial, he speaks of the martyrdom of Cornelius O'Deveny, Bishop of Down and Connor, and of his companion in suffering, Cornelius O'Loughrane. After telling how "about two o'clock in the afternoon of February 1st, 1611, both were handed over to the Sheriff and placed on a small car, in which they were taken to the place of execution"—how "the spectators knelt down as the car passed by, and made such a lamentation after him as the heavens themselves resounded their outcries," he goes on to say:—

"The executioner had no sooner taken off the bishop's head, but the townsmen of Dublin began to flock about him. some taking the head up with pitying aspect accompanied with sobs and sighs ; some kissed it with so religious an appetite as ever they kissed the pax; some cut away all the hair from the head, which they preserved for a relic; some others were practisers to steal the head away, but the executioner gave notice to the sheriffs. Now, when he began to quarter the body, the women thronged about him, and happy was she that could get but her handkerchief dipped in the blood of the traitor; and the body being once dissevered into four quarters, they neither left finger nor toe, but they cut them off, and carried them away."

There is a copy of this book in the library of Trinity College.

The Analecta of Dr. Rothe is, undoubtedly, the most valuable record that we possess of the martyrs who suffered up to the end of the sixteenth century and during the first years of the seventeenth. Rothe was bishop of Ossory from 1618 to 1650. He died just at the time that Cromwell captured the city of Kilkenny. He was the author of several works, only one of which, unfortunately, has come down to us. Messingham says he was well versed in all sorts of learning, an elegant orator, a subtle philosopher, a profound divine, an eminent historian; and Ussher, too, bears willing testimony to his erudition. The work by which he is known to us bears the title of Analecta Sacra nova et mira de rebus Catholicorum in Hibernia pro fide et religione gestis. It is divided into three parts. The first was published at Cologne in 1616. It was reprinted the following year, considerably enlarged, with a second part added. The third part was published in 1619. The whole work, which had become very scarce, was republished in 1884 by Cardinal Moran. The first part treats chiefly of the laws made against Catholics during the reign of James I. The second part opens with an Epistola paraenetica addressed to Cornelius O'Deveny and others of the clergy and laity imprisoned for professing the faith. He was urged to write, he says, through pity for his countrymen then imprisoned by the heretics for professing the Catholic faith. The third part, styled De Processu Martyriali quorundam fidei pugilum in Hibernia, contains a list of the bishops, priests, both secular and regular, and of the laity, who up to that time had suffered martyrdom, imprisonment, and exile. The first in the catalogue is Richard Creagh, Archbishop of Armagh, who died of poison in the Tower of London, October 14th, 1585; the last is Sir John Burke, of Brittas, hanged in Limerick, December 20th, 1607. The lives of some, as of Archbishops Creagh and O'Hurley, of Cornelius O'Deveny, and of Sir John Burke, are given at considerable length, and contain many details concerning them not to be found elsewhere. There is a copy of the third part of Rothe's work in the library of St. Patrick's College, Thurles. I got an imperfect copy of it at a sale that lately took place in Dublin.

Fr. Thomas Good, S.J., who taught a school in Limerick about 1580, published his Theatrum Catholicae et Protestantiae Religionis at Douay in 1620. The book is often referred to as containing a history of the sufferings of the Catholics which happened in his time. An extract from it containing an account of the death of Dermot O'Hurley is given in O'Molony's Anatomicum Examen. I cannot give any further details about the book, as no copy of it is to be found, so far as I know, in this country. Will some owner of it, who may read this, lend it to me for a few days, to make from it such extracts as may be useful in the case of our Irish martyrs ?

A writer named Copinger published a book in Paris in 1620, bearing the title, A Mnemosynum to the Catholics of Ireland. It is in great part an exhortation to the Irish people to bear with patience the hardships and trials they were then enduring for the faith. There is in it a short account of the martyrdom of Maurice Kent (recté Kinreghtan), who was put to death in Clonmel in 1585. There is a copy of this work in the library of Trinity College, wanting the title-page.

We are indebted to Philip O'Sullevan Beare for two works of great value to students of Irish history both sacred and profane, Historiae Catholicae Iberniae Compendium, and Decas Patriciana; the former published at Lisbon in 1621, the latter at Madrid in 1629. The late Dr. Kelly, of Maynooth, reprinted the Compendium in 1850, and in the preface which he put to it he gives an account of the author. When a mere boy he went to Spain, one of the crowd of Irish exiles who left Ireland soon after the defeat of the Irish under O'Neill and O'Donnell at Kinsale. In the archives at Loyola there is a long list of the Irish who came to Spain up to 1604 —"soldiers for the service, gentlemen of position, poor people, widows, young girls;" it is signed by F. Florence Conroy, later Archbishop of Tuam, who had accompanied Hugh Roe O'Donnell to Spain, and was present at his deathbed. Now he was using whatever influence he had at the Court of Philip III. to obtain a scanty livelihood for these poor exiles. In this list the name of O'Sullevan occurs frequently, for though others of the Irish who had taken arms received a pardon—which was of little avail to them later—there was no pardon for the O'Sullevans. He was educated at Compostella by an Irish priest, F. Synnott, of whom he speaks in terms of heartfelt gratitude, and later he entered the Spanish service. Though a soldier, he found time for literary work. He was a correspondent of F. Colgan, O.S.F., author of the Acta SS. Hiberniae, who speaks of him as "doctrina clarissimus," and as having "deserved well of his native country and of its saints." Besides a list of Irish martyrs, he gives a very detailed account of the manner of death of some of them. There is a fine copy of the original edition of each of these works in the library of Maynooth College.

Molanus, probably O'Mullane, a native of Cork, who is set down on the title-page of his work as " Public Professor of the History of Eloquence," published a work bearing the title of Idea Togatae Constantiae in Paris in 1629. It contains a list of nearly one hundred Irish martyrs. A good part of the book is taken up with the Life of Francis Tailler, a citizen of Dublin, who died in prison in 1621, where he had been for seven years, because he professed the Catholic faith. Appended to the Life is a document duly signed by the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. Thomas Fleming, and several of the clergy secular and regular, bearing witness to the great virtues of Francis Tailler and to his constancy in professing the true faith, from which he never departed by a hair's breadth, though in his old age he was shut up in prison and subjected to all kinds of hardships. There is a copy of this book in the library of Trinity College.

In the great storehouse of Irish history, The Annals of the Four Masters, one will naturally expect to find much about the martyrs. The references to them, however, are few and of a general kind. Under the date of 1537, they tell of "the new heresy that had just sprung up in England, and of the destruction of the monasteries from Aran of the Saints to the Iccian Sea, and of the persecution endured even then, such that scarcely had there ever come so great from Rome." Again, under the date 1540, they say "the monastery of Monaghan was destroyed, and the guardian and some of the friars beheaded." And under 1601, they tell of the death of Redmond O'Gallagher, " who was killed by the English in Oireacht ui Cathain." But their testimony in reference to the death of Cornelius O'Deveny is most valuable. He was taken prisoner by the English, they say, and offered riches and rewards if he would go over to their heresy; but he despised them for an everlasting kingdom. He was released then, but he was taken again, when Sir Arthur Chichester was Lord Justice of Ireland, and was put to death. "He was first beheaded, and then his members were cut in quarters, and his flesh mangled."

"There was not a Christian in the land of Ireland, whose heart did not shudder within him at the horror of the martyrdom which this chaste, wise divine, and the perfect and truly meek, righteous man suffered for the reward of his soul. The Christians who were then in Dublin, contended with each other to see which of them should have one of his limbs; and not only his limbs, but they had fine linen in readiness, to prevent his blood from falling on the ground; for they were convinced that he was one of the holy martyrs of the Lord."

And they go on to tell of the fortitude of his companion :—

" Gilla Patrick O'Loughrane, a distinguished priest, was with the Bishop at this time, when the English had decided that both these should be put to death. The Bishop was afraid that the priest might be seized with horror and dismay at the sight of the tortures about to be inflicted upon his own body, so that he requested the executioner to put the priest to death before himself. The priest said that he need not be in dread on his account, it was not right an honourable Bishop should be without a priest to attend him. This he did, for he consented and suffered the like torture to be inflicted on him for the sake of the kingdom of heaven for his soul."

Fr. Peter Redan, S. J., Professor of Sacred Scripture in the Irish College at Salamanca, published at Lyons, in 1651, the first volume of his Commentary on the Canonical Books of the Machabees. Speaking of the College of Salamanca, he says :—"Of the many colleges which are an ornament to this University, the Irish College is the smallest, and, considering its revenues, the poorest. Yet, during the fifty years that it has been in the hands of the Jesuits, it has had over three hundred and seventy students, of whom not a few were remarkable for their holiness and learning." He goes on to enumerate the archbishops and bishops, the teachers of theology, the famous writers, the many religious whom it sent forth from it, and he adds :—"Thirty of them suffered martyrdom for the faith, some of them by hanging or beheading, and others by imprisonment, starvation, and hardships of different kinds. Of that great number during the long and fierce persecution, not one denied or betrayed the faith ever." The second volume of this work is in manuscript in the library of the University of Salamanca. It too contains some names of sufferers for the faith, not to be found in other works. The first volume is in the library of Trinity College.

Fr. Moryson, O.S.F., in his Threnodia Hiberno-Catholica, published at Innsbruck, in 1659, gives an account of some martyrs not mentioned by earlier writers, who had been put to death shortly before he wrote. He gives a short account of each, and of the manner of his death. The book is a very rare one, the only copy I know of being that in the Grenville Library in the British Museum. But the portion dealing with the Irish Martyrs will be found in the notes to O'Connell's Memoir of Ireland.

Dr. John Lynch, Archdeacon of Tuam, has left several very valuable works on Irish history. Of these his reply to the calumnies of Giraldus Cambrensis is the best known. In his Alithinologia, published at St. Malo, in 1664, to which he added a Supplement in 1671, besides the martyrs whose history is given by other writers, he gives the names of some who suffered shortly before he wrote, as of Luke Bergin, a Cistercian, who was put to death at Wexford, in 1655, for the sole reason that he was a priest; of Nicholas Nugent, Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas, and others who were executed under pretence that they favoured Lord Baltinglas's rising; and of Thomas Fleming, a citizen of Drogheda, who died in prison because he would not conform to the new creed. A copy of the Alithinologia is in the library of Trinity College; one of the Supplement in that of St. Patrick's College, Waterford. The Library of Trinity College contains Dr. Lynch's MS. work, De Praesulibus Hiberniae, to which reference is often made. It makes mention of others besides bishops who suffered death for the faith, and it describes several miracles said to have been wrought at the tomb of Dermot O'Hurley in St. Kevin's churchyard, where he was buried.

Bruodin's, or MacBriody's, work, bearing the title Propugnaculum Catholica Veritatis, published at Prague, in 1669, gives the most complete history of our martyrs which we possess. The author was a native of Clare. It contains a brief history of the so-called Reformation in England and Ireland, a short list of English martyrs, and a somewhat detailed account of the Irish martyrs up to the time he wrote. His sketch of Sir John Burke is very full, and contains many details which are not found elsewhere. He speaks of acts of cruelty done to Catholics, of which he was himself witness, as the cutting off the ears of a respectable citizen of Limerick, because a priest was found hiding in his house. This work is so rare that a certain bookseller, in one of his late catalogues, says there are only three copies of the book in existence; and, in consequence, demands for one of the three in his possession the very modest sum of £30. There are, at least, three copies in Dublin—an excellent one in the library of the Royal Irish Academy.

The same author, under the name of O'Mollony, published another work in 1671, which is a sort of supplement to the Propugnaculum, and gives the names of several martyrs omitted in the first work. It gives at some length the life and death of Fr. John Kearny, O.S.F., a native of Cashel, who was put to death at Clonmel in 1653. The book is primarily a reply to a work written by Carve, chaplain to a regiment in the imperial army, who was ashamed of his Irish descent, and claimed to be sprung from the Carew family. It contains also some very interesting facts about Myler Magrath, the apostate bishop of Down, and later Protestant Archbishop of Cashel, "that wicked Milerus," as he is often called in the State Papers by some members of his own creed, which are not as much known as they ought to be; as, for instance, that Myler in early life suffered for the faith, having his ears cut off, his nose slit, and needles thrust under the nails of his hands. He yielded to his tortures, and abandoned the faith. Elizabeth hearing of his perversion, gave him the archbishopric of Cashel. His conscience troubled him sorely during the whole of his apostacy. To still it somewhat, he would at times do a kindly turn to the Catholics, as when he wrote to his would-be wife from Greenwich, bidding her notify to Dr. Creagh, Bishop of Cork, that an order was about to be issued to seize him. Some eighteen months before his death he repented of his misdeeds and of the scandal he had given, and passed the remainder of his life doing rigid penance. He was received back into the Franciscan Order by Father Mathew, then Provincial, and died having made his peace with God. Perhaps it is to this change at the end of his life that reference is made obscurely in his epitaph in Cashel cathedral.

In Fr. Archdeacon's Theologia Tripartita, a sort of hand book of theology for priests then employed on the Irish mission, there is at the end a Dedicatio, addressed to them, in which he speaks of the sufferings of the Irish clergy and people up to that time. He then gives a Life of Peter Talbot, Archbishop of Dublin, who died in prison in Dublin, in 1680, the crime laid to his charge being that for which Oliver Plunkett suffered death, namely, "participation in a popish plot." This book was first published at Louvain in 1671. It has been frequently reprinted.

A few words about another, and a more numerous class of books, different in some respects from those already mentioned. I refer to works written by Religious containing the history of their respective Orders, which make mention of Irish martyrs belonging to them. Such are the well-known work, Annales Minorum Ordinum Franciscanorum, of Fr. Luke Wadding, published at Rome in 1625-1654 ; Van der Sterre's Echo Sti. Norberti, at Antwerp, in 1629; Henriquez's Menologium Cisterciense, at Antwerp, in 1630; Malpaeus's Palma Fidei S. Ordinis Prcedicatorum, in the same place, in 1635; Imago Societatis Jesu, in the same place, in 1640 ; Hartry's Triumphalia Chronologica, a MS. written in 1640, and the Supplement de Cisterciensum Hibernorum Viris Illustribus, by the same author, in 1652, printed last year from the original in the possession of the Most Rev. Dr. Croke; Fr. Philip's Decor Carmeli, published at Lyons, in 1655 ; O'Daly's Initium, &c, familia Geraldinorum Desmoniae Comitum, at Lisbon, in 1655; Alegambe's Mortes Illustres Societatis Jesu, at Rome, in 1658; Tanner's Societatis Jesu usque ad sanguinis et Vita profusionem militans, at Prague, in 1575; O'Heyne's Epilogus Ordinis Pradicatorum in Hibernia, at Louvain, in 1706; Lopez's Noticias Historicas del Celeste Orden de la Trinidad, Madrid, 1714; Jouvency's Historia Societatis Jesu, at Rome, in 1720; and lastly, the MS. of Fr. Ward, in the library of the Franciscan Fathers, Merchants'-quay, Synopsis Provinciae Hibernia.

Among the documents in the archives of the Irish College of Salamanca, there are several of great importance on the subject of our martyrs. Cardinal Moran has published some of these in his Spicilegium Ossoriense. There are others, too, as the account of the martyrdom of Maurice Eustace, in Dublin, in 1581, which is given in great detail. The manuscript history, too, of the Irish College of Seville, now in the archives of Salamanca, and giving the history of that college from 1612 to 1763, contains some interesting facts: for instance, an account of the martyrdom of a Kerry priest. The marginal reference to this is "Illustre Martyrium D. Cornelii M'Carthi."

"In May of this year (1652) took place the famous martyrdom of Cornelius Carty, of the province of Munster and bishopric of Ardfert. He entered this college in the year 1635. He left this college for the Irish mission about 1642. He laboured like a true apostle in Ireland, converting heretics, and administering the sacraments. He was executed by order of the heretical governor of the county of Kerry, because he was a Catholic priest and a defender of the Catholic faith."

There are several other works by authors of other countries, in which passing mention is made of our martyrs; as, for instance, by Bosius, de Signis Ecclesiae, Antwerp, 1581; and by Harpsfield, in his Concertatio Ecclesiae Cath. in Anglia, published in 1588. If special mention is not made of them oftener, the reason, no doubt, is that foreign writers such as Baronius, Suarez, and Bellarmine, were accustomed to include Ireland under the common designation of "Anglia," and all the more because of the persecution taking place in both countries at the same time and in virtue of what they supposed to be the same laws.

D. Murphy, S.J.

Irish Ecclesiastical Record, Vol XIII (1892), 720-729.

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