June 20 is the Feast of the Irish Martyrs and to mark the day below is a 1915 article by the editor of The Catholic World, a monthly journal published in the United States by the Paulist Fathers. Although the article is titled 'Some of Ireland's Martyrs', writer Father John J. Burke, C.S.P. provides a comprehensive listing of those whose names were recommended for official consideration of their causes, two hundred and fifty-seven in all, six of whom were women. The Official List of Irish Martyrs published three years later in the Irish Ecclesiastical Record recorded two hundred and fifty-eight names to which a further two, omitted accidentally, were later added, bringing the total to two hundred and sixty. Father Burke refers in his piece to the beatification of these martyrs, but they were not formally beatified at this stage. Seventeen were formally beatified in 1995 by Pope Saint John Paul II, at present the cases of forty-two others are being resubmitted for further consideration. Saint Oliver Plunkett, beatified in 1920 and canonized in 1975, remains the sole Irish martyr to have been officially declared a saint. Father Burke's article contains some very useful potted biographies which are worth reading and reflecting upon, for too many of our Irish martyrs remain forgotten, neglected and unknown.
STILL more of the glorious pages of Irish history, which tell how well she deserves the title of the greatest of Catholic nations, have been illumined with letters of heavenly gold by our Holy Father, Benedict XV. The necessary brevity of this article makes it impossible, and indeed it is not necessary, to dwell upon the heroic fidelity of our forefathers who kept the Faith at home, preserved the saving principles of that Faith to European civilization, and, in their zeal and devotion, carried it to every part of the globe. The beatification of two hundred and fifty-one Irishmen and six Irishwomen presents again to the world the heroism of those who, in the most ruthless of religious persecutions, laid down their lives that God might be glorified before men, and that Ireland might live a Catholic nation.
We give first the text in English of the opening and the closing of the Papal Decree on the Beatification or Declaration of Martyrdom of these servants of God. We then add the full list of those Beatified, summarizing in a very brief way the career and martyrdom of some of them.
In Ireland, the nursery of heroes, of the innumerable champions of Christ who fell in the unbridled and furious persecution waged against Catholics in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and whose names are written in the Book of Life, the greater number are unknown, but many are known by name and fame and still live in the memory of men. Among these are numbered fourteen Bishops of the Church, many priests of the secular clergy, and others belonging to the religious families, or Orders, namely, the Premonstratensians, Cistercians, Friar Preachers, Franciscans, Augustinians, Carmelites, the Order of the Blessed Trinity, and the Society of Jesus, as well as laymen and men of noble rank, to whom are to be added six devout women. Since the proofs of their martyrdom forth- coming seemed to be of sufficient weight, an investigatory process on the reputation for martyrdom and the signs and miracles of the aforesaid servants of God was undertaken and brought to a successful issue in the ecclesiastical court of Dublin. This investigatory process was forwarded to the Sacred Congregation of Rites in Rome and was followed by many petitions from Archbishops and Bishops, especially of Ireland, and from others eminent in Church and State. When all was in readiness, on the presentation of Monsignor O'Riordan, Protonotary Apostolic, Rector of the Irish College, and Postulator of the Cause, who put forward the wishes of the whole Catholic nation of Ireland, the Most Eminent Lord Cardinal Vincenzo Vannutelli, Bishop of Palestrina, and Ponente or Relator of the Cause, at an ordinary meeting of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, held at the Vatican on the date given below, proposed a discussion of the Sacred Congregation of Rites on the following doubt: "Is a Commission for the introduction of the Cause to be instituted in the case and for the purpose of which there is question?" And the Most Eminent and Reverend Fathers of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, on the motion of his Eminence the Cardinal Ponente, and after obtaining the opinion of Monsignor Verde, Promoter of the Faith, having maturely examined, discussed, and weighed all circumstances, decided to reply: The commission is to be instituted in the Cause of two hundred and fifty-seven Servants of God, if it is pleasing to His Holiness.
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On a report of this being referred to our Most Holy Lord Pope Benedict XV. through the under-mentioned Secretary of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, his Holiness confirmed the Rescript of the Sacred Congregation, and deigned to approve with his own hand the Commission for the Introduction of the Cause of the two hundred and fifty-seven aforesaid Servants of God on the twelfth day of the same month and year.
Antony Cardinal Vico,
Pro-Prefect of the S. Congregation of Rites.
Peter la Fontaine,
Bishop of Caristo, Secretary.
February 12, 1915.
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