Thursday 9 December 2021

Mass in Ireland in the Penal Times

During the month of December I plan to explore the theme of 'Mass in the Penal Times', for although we will be celebrating the bicentenary of Catholic Emancipation in 2029, the era of persecution which began at the end of the seventeenth century continues to resonate in the Irish Catholic psyche, evoking an image of Mass rocks, hunted priests and heroic resistance by laypeople prepared to risk everything that their faith might survive. I hope to explore some of the realities behind this romantic imagery, but we will begin with an historical overview of the subject by Father Ambrose Coleman, O.P. The writer was born in England to Irish parents in 1858 and entered the Dominican Order in 1874.  He was a regular contributor to the religious press and produced a number of books including a translation of Father John O'Heyne's 1706 work The Irish Dominicans of the Seventeenth Century. Father Coleman delivered the paper below to the 20th International Eucharistic Congress held in Cologne in August, 1909 and there are some interesting specific cases contained within it. There is the former Bishop of Raphoe who died in 1861, for example, who recalled that as a child he had acted as a lookout for priest hunters while Mass was taking place in the open-air. Then there is 'the Ark of Carrigaholt', a structure on wheels shaped like a Victorian bathing hut, which ingeniously circumvented the opposition of Protestant landlords to the holding of the Mass for the tenants on their estates in West Clare in the 1850s. If nothing else, Father Coleman's paper makes it clear that there is more to Mass in the Penal Times than simply Mass Rocks and priest hunters as he covers a range of places and circumstances in which the Mass was held, some of which even survived long after the repeal of the penal legislation:



[The following description of the dangers and difficulties under which Mass was celebrated in Ireland in the Penal Days, was one of the papers read at the recent Eucharistic Congress in Cologne.]

It is a remarkable historical fact that for two hundred and twenty-two years the holy sacrifice of the Mass was forbidden by law in Ireland, and it is an equally remarkable fact that during that long period of persecution the holy sacrifice never ceased to be offered up in every part of the land. No other country in the world can point to such a glorious record. In other countries, it is true, penal legislation against the Mass existed for an equally long period, but with the important difference that in some of them, such as Norway and Sweden, the faith was completely stamped out of the people after two or three generations, and in others, such as England, only a remnant of the people remained Catholic to the end; whereas the Irish people were just as Catholic to the end of the period as they were at the beginning, patiently bearing all the disabilities incurred by reason of their religion, a nation enslaved at the hands of a handful of bigoted Protestants, who possessed all power, influence, and wealth. In 1781, when the Penal Code first began to be relaxed, the whole population of Ireland, then estimated at two and three-quarter millions, was Catholic, with the exception of English, Scotch, and Continental Protestant settlers; while in England, at the same date, out of a population of six millions, there were only about sixty thousand Catholics, some thousands of whom were Irish immigrants. England for the two centuries previous had been a Protestant nation; Ireland had remained as it remains to the present day a nation of Catholics. 

First Efforts to Protestantize Ireland. 

The first endeavor to plant Protestantism into Ireland was made in the reign of Edward VI under the euphemism of introducing the English Liturgy. That this meant the banning of the Mass was clearly seen by the then Catholic Primate, George Dowdall, who made a vigorous stand for some time for the true faith, and then left the country in disgust, saying that he " Wolde never be bushope where th'olie masse was abolished." The attempt was an utter failure, and on Queen Mary ascending the throne shortly afterwards the old religion was restored. It is to Queen Elizabeth that we must attribute the introduction of Protestantism in a permanent form into Ireland. In 1559 the Act of Uniformity was passed, or supposed to have been passed, in a packed Parliament in Dublin. By this Act, the Book of Common Prayer was made obligatory on all the clergy and people, and all "Popish rites and superstitions," meaning, of course the holy sacrifice of the Mass, were forbidden by law. The Act remained in force in Ireland, with the exception of the short reign of James II till 1781 - that is, for a period of two hundred and twenty-two years.  

"Mass Houses" in Elizabeth's reign. 

The immediate effect of the Act was to drive the Bishops and priests out of all the churches of the country, except in the remote parts, where Elizabeth's power was not felt. Their places were taken by a crowd of horse-boys, laborers, shoemakers, and others, many of whom could not even read, who acted as nominal ministers, and were supposed to perform divine service. The clergy, seeing the people deprived at one stroke of all their places of worship, were forced to begin the practise of saying Mass in private houses, and of converting barns, stables, and ordinary cottages into chapels. These were known in Elizabeth's time, and down almost to our own days by the name of "Mass-houses," and the priests are referred to in the State papers as ''massing-priests." 

 Persecution in the Reign of James I. 

On the death of Elizabeth the Catholics were filled with the hope that they should enjoy toleration under her successor —James I, son of the saintly Mary Queen of Scots. And so they took possession of many of the churches that remained, and began to say Mass in them. This did not escape the vigilant eye of the Lord President of Munster. Writing from Waterford, he says:— "Masses infinite they have in their several churches every morning without any fear. I have spied them, for I chanced to arrive last Sunday, at five o'clock in the morning, and saw them resort out of their churches by heaps." The hopes of the Catholics were doomed to disappointment, and a most vigorous persecution followed for the next few years. Some years later a proclamation was issued against the clergy, the Lord Deputy intimating that the "late intermission of legal proceedings against them has bred such an extraordinary insolence and presumption in them that he was necessitated to charge and command them in his Majesty's name to forbear the exercise of their Popish rites and ceremonies." The Lord Deputy complains in a letter to Primate Ussher, that this proclamation was ill observed. 

The Iron Days Of Cromwell. 

During the terrible Cromwellian regime, when three-fourths of the country was parcelled out among the English soldiers and adventurers, and the great bulk of the people were driven into Connacht, the poor Catholics never showed greater constancy in their religion. Even in that awful period they heard Mass on every opportunity that offered. A letter from a Capuchin Father, who visited several of his brethren at that time, throws a remarkable light on the situation. A pathetic instance of the hardships borne by the priests at the time is that of an old Dominican Father, who during the Cromwellian period, had to hire himself out to one of the English planters as a shepherd. Exposed in this occupation to all the vicissitudes of the weather, he completely lost his sight, and then attired as a common beggar, with a wallet on his back, and led by a little boy, the poor old man, reverenced as a messenger from God, made his way from house to house, spending the last days of his life hearing the confessions of the people and consoling them in their afflictions.

A Rift in the Clouds. 

Not until 1782 was the Act of Uniformity, the principal weapon all along in the hands of the Persecutors, virtually repealed by an Act of Parliament (21-22 George III) by which priests, on taking the oath of allegiance, and registering their names, ages, and places of abode, were allowed to exercise their priestly office without being subject to the penalties of previous years. But the Act restricted them "from officiating in any church or chapel with a steeple or bell, or at any funeral in a church or churchyard, or from exercising any of the rites or ceremonies of the Popish religion, or wearing the habits of their order, save within their usual places of worship or in private houses, or from using any symbol or mark of ecclesiastical dignity or authority." The immediate effect of the Act was the building of churches and chapels without steeples or bells, in more open places than formerly, most of which have long since disappeared to make way for the noble ecclesiastical structures we see everywhere around us in Ireland. 

Intolerance of Bigoted Landlords.

But it must not be thought that by the passing of this Act of Parliament all the difficulties consequent on Catholic worship were at an end. The bigoted and intolerant Protestant landlords, who possessed practically all the land in the country, could not be induced, in numberless instances, to grant sites for Catholic churches and chapels, and very often in the lease given to Catholic tenants there was a clause against the sub-letting of any land for the purpose of building any Catholic place of worship or a Catholic school. Again, in the Protestant part of the North, which had just seen the formation of the aggressive Orange Society, based on deadly hatred of everything Catholic, it was impossible to build even a humble chapel for fear of its being wrecked or set on fire. The Most Rev. Patrick M'Gettigan, who died Bishop of Raphoe in 1861, used to relate that in his childhood he was often placed on the summit of a high rock to signal the approach of the priest-hunters, whilst in an adjoining hollow the parishioners were assembled around the temporary altar on which the Holy Sacrifice was offered up. As he advanced in years he became one of the acolytes whose duty it was to hold the candles in their hands, and prevent them from being blown out by the wind, for there were no candlesticks on the open-air altars of those days. As another instance, coming home to ourselves, I may refer to the case of my own maternal grandmother, who, when a child, had to hear Mass every Sunday and festival in a field in all weathers with the rest of the parishioners, while a priest said Mass in a hut in front, the people having to endure this hardship because no landlord would give a site for a chapel. This parish, I am glad to add, possesses at the present day one of the finest parish churches in Ireland. 

The Ark of Carrigaholt. 

To give another instance: I am well acquainted with a gentleman, a prominent merchant of the South of Ireland, who as a boy used to serve Mass regularly in what was known as the "Ark of Carrigaholt." This was a structure, built as a traveling van on wheels, with large glass windows all round, through which the priest and altar could easily be seen. It was devised as the only possible means of enabling the people of the parish of Carrigaholt to hear Mass. The local landlords were so bigoted that none of them would allow a chapel to be built on their lands, and prosecuted and evicted tenants who allowed Mass to be said even in a temporary shelter for the priest. The van was forbidden to enter any of the lands occupied by the tenants: hence the only place where the people, comprising several thousands, could hear Mass was at the cross-roads, the Ark being placed at the junction of the roads, and the people kneeling in four distinct groups along the four roads.

The present illustrious Archbishop of Sydney, his Eminence Cardinal Moran, devoted several years both in Ireland and in Australia to embody in his historical writings the living traditions that linger round these humble monuments of Penal days. No other historian has done half so much as he has to illustrate the ecclesiastical history of the times of persecution. 

Only Mud Huts Tolerated. 

In 1731 an order was issued by the Privy Council in Dublin to all the Protestant Bishops to send in an account of all the Mass-houses and Popish schools in their diocese, and the number of priests and friars officiating therein. Very detailed reports, from which we can gather a mass of interesting information, were sent in by them, and are to be found in the Irish Record Office, Dublin. Only mud huts were tolerated as places of worship, and where, owing to the rancor and aggressiveness of local magistrates, these were thrown down, the people had to betake themselves once more to the rock altars and the fields. 

A virulent persecution arose in 1744, owing to the invasion of Scotland by Prince Charles Stuart. Many priests were thrown into prison: others fled to Dublin, and Mass had to be celebrated once more in holes and corners. This state of things lasted for nearly a year, when a disastrous accident touched the heart of the Lord Lieutenant and moved him to allow the quasi-public celebration of Mass once more. The accident, which resulted in the death of a priest and nine other people, came from the giving way of the floor of a garret in Dublin, where the people had assembled secretly to hear Mass. 

Owing to the enormous increase of the population during the first part of the last century, and their abject poverty, the small chapels were able to contain only a small proportion of those who came to hear Mass. Montalembert, the illustrious French Catholic writer, who visited Ireland in 1729, vividly described the profound impression made on him by the devotion of the people at Mass regardless of the weather. Five years after Montalembert's visit, a public meeting of the Catholics of the Diocese of Killala sent a petition to the House of Commons, setting forth, amongst other things, that "in this diocese alone upwards of 30,000 souls are obliged on every Sunday to hear Mass under the canopy of Heaven." 

A Relic of the Past. 

A relic of the penal times are the Stations which are still held regularly in the houses of the people in some of the dioceses of Ireland. I once took part in one myself with the parish priest. At an early hour we made our way to the house, a poor cottage of two rooms, preceded by the clerk, carrying the altar requisites. We there found several of the neighbors already waiting for confession. The kitchen table was turned into an altar, and the parish priest and I were soon seated on chairs hearing the confessions of all who presented themselves. Then each of us said Mass in turn and gave Holy Communion. When the religious function was over the people came up one and one and made their half-yearly offering. Devout people of other lands might fear that these sordid surroundings might lead to a lack of reverence towards the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, but such is by no means the case, and I can bear witness that I never came across a more devout congregation. Many priests have to spend three or four months of the year holding Stations from house to house in their parishes. 

Irish Devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. 

One other instance of the piety of the people at Mass in the real Irish parts of the country and I have done. I was once saying Mass in one of the islands off the West coast when, at the Elevation, there was a general murmur among the congregation. Having been always used to profound silence at that solemn moment I was at a loss to account for it, but learnt afterwards that it was the custom of the people to welcome aloud the coming of Our Lord in their midst, using the old Irish greeting— Ceud mile failte, "A hundred thousand welcomes." The devotion to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, so remarkable in Penal times, is not less so at the present day. The churches are all crowded on Sundays, and the absentees are few and far between. Would that that could be said of other Catholic countries. 

The Irish as Church Builders and Maintainers.

 "Another lesson learned in Penal times was that of supporting the needs of religion. At present the generosity of the Irish in supporting their priests, in building churches, in keeping up charitable institutions, is proverbial, not only as regards Ireland itself, but every country in which our people have set foot. It is the pence of the Irish poor that have built up most of the churches in England. It is the Irish emigrants that have built three-fourths of the churches in the United States, and all the churches in Australia and South Africa. Who could think that the down-trodden peasants—who worshiped for centuries in fear and trembling around the rock altars and in front of the mud-walled Mass-houses —could ever rise to take such a glorious part in the spreading of the Gospel through the world as they have done in the past century? Truly the ways of God are wonderful!

The Sacred Heart Review, Volume 42, Number 14, 25 September 1909, pp. 8-9.

Content Copyright © De Processu Martyriali 2020-2021. All rights reserved.

Thursday 18 November 2021

Ireland's Noblest Roman


Father Luke Wadding, O.F.M., one of the leading Franciscan scholars of his age, died on November 18, 1657. Although from a Waterford family who played a prominent role in Irish civic and ecclesiastical affairs, he spent the majority of his life in continental Europe, where he developed a considerable reputation as a scholar and administrator. The Irish Colleges, such as that established by Father Luke in Rome, played a crucial role in furthering the Counter-Reformation in Ireland and in preserving the memories of the Irish martyrs. Below is a 1957 article from an American Franciscan magazine written to mark the tercentenary of his death. It mentions the official Irish state celebrations of 'one of the greatest of Ireland’s heroes and one of the noblest friars ever to wear the wool of the Poverello' and notes approvingly that 'Luke Wadding’s greatness is receiving some of the recognition that it deserves' even if his name 'deserves to be spread far more widely than it is.'

Ireland’s Noblest Roman 

by Titus Cranny, S.A. 

NINETEEN FIFTY SEVEN is a special anniversary in the history of Ireland and in the annals of the Franciscan Order.

Three centuries ago on November 18 one of their greatest luminaries finished his career on earth and passed on to his eternal reward. He was famous in Ireland, though he had permanently left home at the age of 15; he was probably one of the most learned men in the world in the seventeenth century. He was the friend and confidant of popes, consultor to various congregations of the Roman Curia, the most noted historian of the Order of St. Francis, and courageous champion of Irish independence. He might well be called Ireland’s great Roman or Rome's greatest Irishman. His name is Father Luke Wadding, O.F.M.

This friar of future greatness was born in Co. Waterford in Ireland on October 16, 1588, the year that the Spanish Armada met defeat off the coast of England. He was the son of Walter Wadding and Anastasia Lombard, who was a relative of Peter Lombard, Archbishop of Armagh. Luke was the eleventh of fourteen children and was baptized on the feast of St. Luke, (October 18). When he was fourteen years old both parents died and he went to Lisbon under the care of an older brother and began the study of philosophy at the Irish seminary in that city under the direction of the Jesuit Fathers. Several months later he entered the Franciscan novitiate of the Immaculate Conception at Matozinhos, near Oporto and later specialized in the study of John Duns Scotus, the most noted doctor of the Franciscan Order. 

Fr. Luke was ordained to the priesthood in 1613 and sent by Fr. Antonio de Trejo, the vicar general of the Order, to the famous University of Salamanca for higher studies. Here he mastered the Hebrew tongue and wrote a book on the origin and excellence of the language. For the next few years he taught theology with distinction until 1618 when he was chosen by King Philip III for the office of theologian to the embassy which the monarch was sending to Pope Paul V to promote the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. 

Fr. Luke drew up nearly all the documents for the commission and spent entire days in the libraries of Naples, Perugia, Assisi, and other cities, in search of data. When the legation returned to Spain in May, 1620 Fr. Luke remained in Rome and as long as the commission lasted he was its theological advisor. King Phillip IV thanked him profusely for his work in this matter. 

 His burning desire to show the glories of the Franciscan Order led him to compile its history. His first work was an edition of The Writings of St. Francis, published in Antwerp in 1623. He had persuaded the Minister General, Fr. Benignus of Genoa, to write to the friars in all the provinces to forward to Rome all documents on the history of the Order. Thus began the celebrated work on the Annales Minorum, the history of the Franciscan Order, which even today is a marvelous work of scholarship. 

 Another singular accomplishment was the establishment of St. Isidore’s College in the Eternal City for the Irish friars. Originally a house for a Spanish province it was renovated and enlarged to serve as a house of studies for candidates from Ireland and it became a model in this regard. Then through the friendship of Pope Urban VIII, the financial aid of Prince Barberini and Prince Ludovisi (after whom the college was named) and the support of the Ministering General, Fr. Luke began a seminary for the training of Irish diocesan priests, called Ludovisan College. The plaque on the portico of St. Isidore’s Church bears the admonition of St. Patrick so characteristic of Fr. Luke: “Any difficulties arising in this island should be brought to the Apostolic See; if you would be true Christians, you must be children of Rome.” He collected 5,000 volumes for the library of the college which now contains some of the most precious manuscripts on the history of the Franciscan Order and on the Irish nation. 

Another monumental task was the editing and publishing on the works of John Duns Scotus, the brilliant friar who had lived more than three centuries past, but whose luster had dimmed without a complete edition of his writings. Working with him were other Irish Franciscans such as John Ponce, Anthony Hickey, J. Lychetus, and MacCaughwell. The outstanding sixteen volume project was published in 1639 in Lyons, a tribute to Scotus and to the industry and devotion of Fr. Luke and his collaborators.

The Irish friar was guardian for four terms in St. Isidore’s, president or rector of the seminary for the full thirty years of its existence since he founded it. During this time more than 200 friars finished their course of studies here and became missioners, professors and martyrs. More than 80 of them became noted as professors in Italy, Bohemia, and Austria. Augostino Gemelli, O.F.M. pays him unstinted praise in his work, The Franciscan Message to the World: “Around the central pivot of this Franciscan friar gravitated all the problems of the age—as for instance, the defence of the Immaculate Conception, the publication of the writings of St. Francis, a revival of interest in Duns Scotus, the compilation of a religious and literary history of the foundation of a model Franciscan House of Studies like St. Isidore’s College in Rome.” 

 Nor was he only a bookworm “but a man of action in the fullest sense of the word. He would have run a factory with the same success as he directed a library and was withal a man of tact and initiative, capable of giving sound advice on delicate questions.” (ibid) Fr. Luke was a model religious in every part of his life, for he believed that he should give good example to the younger student friars. 

 Some other books that he wrote were the following: a biblical concordance of St. Anthony of Padua; the works of Angelo del Paz, a friar from Mortorio who had died about 1605; lives of Franciscan saints and martyrs; the legation of Philip III and Philip IV; offices for various feasts which he wrote as Consultor for the Sacred Congregation of Rites. His works appeared in Spanish, Italian, Latin and Hebrew. He has been called “the greatest Irishman of all time” and while this title might be open to question, surely no one can doubt that he was one of the greatest of Ireland’s heroes and one of the noblest friars ever to wear the wool of the Poverello. He had the feast of St. Patrick inscribed in the calendar of the universal church which had been celebrated in the Franciscan Order since the General Chapter of 1390. 

His emphasis on studies was a kind of revitalization of the golden age in the thirteenth century and he seemed to realize “that after the Protestant Reformation books and the work of teachers in schools were destined in part to supersede preaching and become, in fact, the pulpits of the new ages. His eyes were fixed on the future and therefore he aimed at injecting into Franciscan spirituality that eagerness for learning which animated the new religious orders founded in the sixteenth century.” (Fr. Gemelli). 

He was outstanding in his service to the church. No bishop in Ireland was named without his advice. The Popes and cardinals depended upon him in every important matter and it is said that he could have been a cardinal himself—but the papers had to pass through his hands—and_ so they were found in his room after his death. Historians say that some of the cardinals voted for him for the papacy, but he shunned all honors in the spirit of St. Francis. One biographer sums up his work for the Order in these words: “As far as the Friars Minor are concerned no important or difficult transaction was carried through at Rome, during his whole time there, that he did not carry a great part of the burden, and often, the entire weight of it.’ 

The third love of his life, in addition to his affection for the Church and the Franciscan Order, was allegiance to Ireland. Indeed Pope Pius XII called attention to this virtue in his letter of September 22, 1956, addressed to Cardinal D’Alton of Armagh. “In a special way,” said His Holiness, “love of country shown in him. In Ireland at that period the enemies of the Catholic name were striving not only to dispossess the people of their civil liberties but also to root out the ancient faith from their minds; so, to the very end of his life, the man of God generously came to the aid of his oppressed fellow-countrymen by every means in his power. Thus he showed the effectiveness of love of one’s country when it is joined with truly great love for God.” 

The Holy Father also told the Franciscans that “ him you have a noble pattern of the religious life, an admirable example of virtue combined with patriotism. Gaze and meditate on his example and courageously imitate him.” 

 Persecution was rife in Ireland at the time. And so Fr. Luke convinced Pope Urban VIII to send Fr. Scarampi as envoy to the Confederation of Ireland (a kind of provisional government) and when he came in 1643 he brought 30,000 Roman crowns (about $35 000) which the Roman friar had collected from the Roman nobility. The Holy Father himself contributed a considerable supply of arms and ammunition for the soldiers. The friar’s friendship with Pope Innocent X brought Archbishop Rinuccini as Apostolic Nuncio in Ireland in 1645 and the sum of $25,000. The prelate also brought 2,000 muskets, 4,000 swords, 2,000 pike heads, 4,000 pairs of pistols, and 20,000 pounds of gun-powder. Due to this intervention the famous battle of Berburb the following year was one of the most glorious victories in Irish history. Fr. Luke was a friend of Owen Roe O'Neill, the leader of the Irish forces. He called his homeland by the affectionate names of Dark Rosaleen and Kathleen Houlihan. 

Death came quickly and quietly in St. Isidore’s where Fr. Luke spent more than half of his life. He seldom left Rome, except to go to Assisi, and a few of the cities in northern Italy, “..his piety was equal to that of his learning” writes one biographer, “and his death was that of a saint.” It was November 18, 1657 when he breathed his last. 

Now on the third centenary of his death Luke Wadding’s greatness is receiving some of the recognition that it deserves. A new college at Gormanston in County Meath, Ireland has been dedicated to him; it is under the direction of the Irish province of Franciscans. The Holy Father wrote an encyclical letter about him which we have quoted, the Father General of the Friars Minor also sent a letter to the Irish Friars, and Cardinal D’Alton, Eamon De Valera and other notables of Church and state took part in celebrations in his honor. 

The humble Irish friar can do nothing to prevent the praises heaped upon him now. They are the rewards of history, by those who appreciate his greatness as a churchman, a Franciscan, and an Irishman. His name deserves to be held in benediction—and it deserves to be spread far more widely than it is.

 The Lamp, A Catholic Magazine Devoted to Christian Unity and Missions (Franciscan Friars of the Atonement), October 1957, pp.10, 20, 22, 28.

Content Copyright © De Processu Martyriali 2020-2021. All rights reserved

Sunday 7 November 2021

'United by the Crown of Martyrdom to the Saints for whom he Laboured': Patrick Fleming, O.F.M.

On November 7, 1631 the murder of an Irish Franciscan near the village of Benešov in the Czech Republic deprived us of one of the leading hagiological scholars of his time. For prior to becoming the first Guardian of the Irish College at Prague earlier that year, Father Patrick Fleming was one of the team of scholars at Louvain who applied themselves to the task of researching and recording the Lives of the Irish saints. Thankfully, before setting out for Prague Father Fleming had left the manuscript containing the fruits of his labours with a publisher at Antwerp and in 1667 it was printed under the title of Collectanea sacra. Irish writer Richard J. Kelly (1856–1931), who was made a freeman of the city of Prague in 1919, summarized the life and work of Father Fleming in a paper delivered to the Royal Irish Academy in 1922:

Father Fleming...was born in 1599, at Lagan, in the parish of Cloondaleen, County Louth, and was the son of Gerald Fleming, of the family of the barons of Slane. He was educated at Douai, then under the care of his uncle, Christopher Cusack, founder and promoter of the Irish Colleges or pensionates at Lille, St. Omer, Antwerp, Douai, and Tournai. Later he was in several colleges, where he occupied himself in copying the lives and works of Irish saints which he had discovered. On the foundation, in 1625, of the College of St. Isidore, in Rome, Fleming was appointed to the Chair of Philosophy. Three years later he was at Louvain, and there prepared for the Press the Life and Works of St. Columbanus. To this he added the "Interpretation Mystica Progenitorum D. Jesus" of St. Aileran; the "Liber Paenitentiarum Mensura" of Cumenaus; the Lives of St. Comgal, of St. Molua, and of St. Mochoe. This collection was printed at Antwerp by Morelius. Soon after this, as we have seen, he was sent to govern the new college at Prague. In October 1631, the Elector of Saxony, having defeated the Imperial forces, advanced to besiege Prague. The Lutheran peasantry began to plunder the Catholic inhabitants, and wreck the religious houses, and, in consequence, the Friars of Prague had to seek safety in flight, Father Fleming, with Matthew Hoare, Patrick Magennis, and Patrick Taafe, and two Servites, departed, leaving the Convent in the hands of Father Geraldine. On the 7th November, as the fugitives approached the little town of Beneschow, seven Hussite peasants seized Father Fleming and his companion and barbarously murdered them. On the morrow the two bodies were found on the road. They were taken to the Convent of Wotitz, four miles from the scene and seven miles from Prague, where they were buried. An inscription in Czech over their graves commemorates their martyrdom.

 R.J.Kelly, 'The Irish Franciscans in Prague (1629-1786): Their Literary Labours', P.R.I.A. 6th ser., Vol.12, No. 2 (December, 1922) pp. 169-174.

Father Fleming's death thus took place against the backdrop of ongoing strife accompanying the Czech Reformation and the Thirty Years War. In these circumstances it must be established that a martyr has met his death for the faith and is not simply an innocent victim of war or of crime. The martyrologists were therefore at pains to stress that the peasants who attacked Father Fleming and his confrère were motivated by religious hostility. Anthony Bruodin, O.F.M., in his 1669 catalogue of Irish martyrs, Propugnaculum Catholicae Veritatis, wrote that the attackers shouted "Mactemus, mactemus monachos, patriae pestes, fideique nostrae hostes" - 'let us kill the monks, the curse of our homeland and the enemies of our faith'. Other accounts speak of the attackers as 'heretics' or 'Hussites'. Father Fleming's collaborator in the work of collecting the Lives of the Irish saints, Father John Colgan, declared in the preface to his Acta Sanctorum Hiberniae that 'He is united by the crown of martyrdom to the saints for whom he laboured'.

A more recent study of the Irish Franciscans in Prague has also acknowledged the difficulties in dissecting the motivation for this murderous attack, given that Father Fleming's body was robbed and that organized bands of robbers were known to be active in the Czech countryside at this time:

It is difficult to say whether the villagers were motivated by religious fanaticism, as Bruodin maintains, or by the latent mob violence which had come to the surface in the difficult war years, or whether it was, perhaps robbery. The truth, as usual, clearly lies somewhere in the middle.

Jan Pařez and Hedvika Kuchařová, The Irish Franciscans in Prague 1629-1786 (Prague, 2015), 46.

Interestingly, the same dilemma is present in the death of another Irishman martyred in 1639 at another village not far from Prague, Cork native Father John Meagh, S.J. His case, which I looked at here, has many parallels with that of Father Fleming, as he too was attacked by hostile peasants in an area where gangs of robbers operated.

Father Fleming was regarded as a martyr by his Order and Father Benignus Millett points out that his early death affected the Irish Franciscan College at Prague itself:

Had he lived to guide the destinies of the Prague college for a few decades, it seems likely that he would have trained and inspired a group of scholars in the new foundation whose writings and researches would have rivalled those of their brethren in Flanders and Italy. As it was, no such school of writers developed at Prague. In fact, for the seventeenth century the literary output of the Irish friars in the Bohemian capital was much smaller than that from the other two celebrated continental colleges.

Rev. B. Millett, O.F.M., The Irish Franciscans, 1651-1665 (Rome, 1964), 492-3.

The case of Father Fleming is one of those included by Irish Jesuit Denis Murphy, the then Postulator, in his 1896 catalogue Our Martyrs. He does not, however, feature on the Official List of Irish Martyrs submitted to Rome. It is customary for the cause of a martyr to come under the jurisdiction of the Bishop in whose diocese the death occurred but I do not know if the cause of Father Fleming was ever formally adopted or where it now stands. His cruel death cut short the life of a scholar of energy, vision and drive and denied the Irish Franciscan College at Prague the potential to develop under his leadership.

Content Copyright © De Processu Martyriali 2021. All rights reserved

Wednesday 25 August 2021

Louvain and Ireland

 On August 25, 1914, international opinion was outraged by the sacking of the Belgian town of Leuven (Louvain) and the burning of its famous university library. Ireland had a particular reason to share in the grief as Louvain was home to its own historic Franciscan centre of learning, where exiled scholars kept alive the traditions of the Irish saints and embraced the challenge of the Counter-Reformation. In the article below, taken from a New Zealand newspaper of 1915, we get a roll-call of the famous Irish alumni of Louvain, including those who are numbered among the Irish martyrs:


(By the Rev. J. Kelly, Ph.D.)

The Irish people refused to accept the teachings of Henry VIII., Elizabeth's arguments failed to convince them, Cromwell and other vigorous evangelists were equally ineffectual. Ireland kept the faith which had come to her centuries before from Rome, though she was able to keep very little else. And in those awful years, during which Henry plundered the churches and monasteries, and Elizabeth and Cromwell persecuted the Catholics, Ireland knew no rest. What Ireland endured in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries we know in part only; but we know enough to be sure that no people were ever before or since subjected to such a long period of cruel persecution, and none came so gloriously through the ordeal. For centuries it was a life-struggle for faith and fatherland; and in our days we ought to remember with pride and thank God for the result.

These centuries were surely unfavorable for literary activity amongst the Irish people. Yet to them belongs a glorious band of Irish scholars, whose works still remain for our admiration and instruction. Froude, no partial witness where Ireland is concerned, testified with what indomitable courage and zeal the ranks of the clergy were kept filled; with what love schools were kept going, often in ruins or caves or under the open sky, where boys, poorly clad, became familiar with Euclid as well as with Virgil and Homer. English laws notwithstanding, law, music, history, and poetry were still cultivated and taken all in all the oppressed Irish were better educated than the pampered English.

 But for higher studies in these years and long after, the Irish had to go abroad to seek for learning in the great schools of the Continent. Italy, France, Spain welcomed with open arms the poor Irish scholars. But, in no place did the exiles meet a warmer welcome than in Louvain; and in no place did their labors and genius bear such fruit. The Franciscan Monastery in Louvain became a veritable cradle of Irish historians and theologians. There Archbishop Florence Conry, of Tuam, acquired his great learning; there, too, Hugh Caghwell lectured with such distinction that he was called to Rome to teach at Ara Coeli, where he died finishing his last work, an Irish catechism, just when he had been appointed to the See of Armagh. A similar work was then published by Father Bonaventure Ossaeus. Father Anthony Hickey, author of a defence of the Immaculate Conception, and Robert Chamberlain, an Ulster man, both taught in Louvain with great success. Father John Bower, a Cork man, won fame in the same school by his works on dogmatic theology and philosophy, and in 1625 was brought to Rome to teach by Father Luke Wadding. Father Peter Wadding, a Waterford man, entered the Society of Jesus at Tournai, and he became a professor at Louvain.

For historical studies especially, the College of St. Anthony at Louvain was renowned. Amongst its greatest luminaries were Hugh Ward, and also Christopher Fleming, who was afterwards murdered in the streets of Prague, whilst saying his Rosary, by seven Calvinist fanatics. To St. Anthony’s also belongs the great Donegal man, John Colgan, whose value as a historian modern research has completely vindicated. Reeves points out that no writer of Irish history can be independent of Colgan— O’Flaherty, Harris, Archdall, and Lanigan are all his debtors. The volumes of the Franciscan monk have become standard works in Irish antiquities. Inseparably connected with Colgan and Louvain are the Four Masters. First and greatest of the four was Michael O’Clery, born about 1580 in Co. Donegal, where from the bards he got his first knowledge of Ireland’s ancient history. At Louvain he became a Franciscan, and devoted himself to the study of the subject which captivated his mind as a boy. In 1627 he returned to Ireland, where he spent seventeen years collecting materials from which he compiled four martyrologies and a vast amount of details of the lives of the Irish saints. The harvest of his great labors were three large manuscripts—the first dealing with the kings of ancient Ireland, the second with her saints, and the third, Leabhar Gabaltas, with the social and political history of the Irish from the earliest times down to 1171. O’Clery’s masterpiece was The Annals of the Four Masters, so called because it was written under his direction by Fergus O’Conry, Peregrine O'Clery, and Peregrine O’Duignan, in the Franciscan Convent at Donegal, between January 22, 1632, and August 10, 1636. Hardly any other nation can boast such a treasure of information, O’Curry tells us. It was written in years of dire persecution. When the cruelty of England was unbearable, these annals of their glorious past brought strength and comfort to the suffering Irish.

How closely Louvain and Ireland were bound together during these years is evident from the fact that from the year 1560 no less than thirty-one Irish Bishops were educated in its schools. In that bead-roll of honor we meet the names of Creagh and Lombard of Armagh, O’Hurley of Cashel, and Egan of Ross all except Lombard martyred for the Faith. Thomas Stapleton, of Cashel, was a professor there in 1659, and afterwards Rector Magnificus. John Shinwick, of Cork, attained the  same dignity and was one of the most brilliant students of the great centre of learning. Later came Francis Martin, of Galway, and Martin Theige, of Limerick, both of whom became professors of Greek.

In the eighteenth century, as in the seventieth, Irish scholars continued to win fame in the schools of Louvain. In 1703, Christopher French was director of studies, and published theses on predestination against the Jesuits, Van der Voeaten and Livinus de Meyer. Christopher O’Connell wrote many works on questions of theology. Other Irish names conspicuous for learning and sanctity are Edmund de Burgo, Anthony de Burgo, Thomas de Tilly, John O’Heyne, Francis O’Hearn, William Gahan, James O’Shiell (Bishop of Down and Connor), and James O’Gallagher (Bishop of Raphoe).

Before the Danes ravaged Ireland thousands of scholars from the Continent flocked to the schools of the old Irish monks. The names of Muckross and Ardagh and Clonmacnoise had a European reputation in those far-away years when on her throne in the western ocean Erin held aloft the torch of learning, and showed a light to all the civilized world. Later, when her own schools were disbanded, her teachers banned, her priests hunted like wolves, the European nations did not forget the debt they owed to Ireland. In Salamanca, in Paris, in Rome, and in Louvain the exiled Irish were distinguished for their learning, and became in many cases teachers of the friendly nations which welcomed them. Luke Wadding remains one of the luminaries of the school of Salamanca; a McMahon is described as the most brilliant student in Rome: Father Michael Moore was one of the first scholars of Paris in the eighteenth century; and the names previously recalled show what Louvain did for Irishmen, and they in turn for Louvain.

Louvain like Ireland has had her awful visitation; and who more than Irishmen should sympathise with her? The other day we all read Cardinal Mercier’s noble Pastoral Letter, drenched with tears and vibrant with grief for the University which he loved so dearly. And how we, too, should feel it! How all English speaking Catholics should feel it! For to Louvain Ireland owes a great, incalculable debt: and it is not too much to say that to Ireland all the Church in the English-speaking world owes the Faith.

New Zealand Tablet, 22 April 1915, Page 15

Sunday 11 July 2021



 Today on the feast of Saint Oliver Plunkett a paper by Father Myles V. Ronan (1877–1959) provides an overview of the martyred Archbishop's life and career. It was published in 1920, a few months after Pope Benedict XV had beatified Blessed Oliver. Father Ronan had a keen interest in Irish Church history and was author of a number of books and articles including the pioneering studies The Reformation in Dublin 1536–1558 (1926), The Reformation under Elizabeth (1930) and a volume on Irish Martyrs of the Penal Laws (1935). In this paper Father Ronan provides a window into Archbishop Plunkett's career in Rome which prepared him for his Irish mission:



BORN in Loughcrew, near Oldcastle in the Co. Meath, in 1629, Oliver Plunkett belonged to the noble family of Plunkett, which included the Catholic Earls of Fingall, Barons Louth and Dunsany, and Dr. Patrick Plunkett, Bishop of Meath. He was kinsman also to the Earl of Roscommon. Being deprived of both parents in early life, his education was undertaken by his relatives. Providence, however, bestowed on him in early life a great friend, who became likewise a father to him. Father Scarampi, the learned Oratorian, had been sent by Pope Urban VIII on a mission to the Confederation of Kilkenny in 1643. Before his return to Rome, in 1645, five youths were introduced to him, as they had expressed a desire for the priesthood. One of these was Oliver Plunkett. Father Scarampi shielded his little flock from many dangers on their perilous journey, and later introduced Oliver to the Irish College, where he paid his fees for him until a free place should be vacant. One of Oliver's fellow-travellers was young Brennan, who afterwards became the first Bishop of Waterford and Lismore and Oliver's life-long companion and helper. His strong and warm attachment to his friends became a remarkable trait in his character. According to the testimony of his Rector ' he was justly ranked amongst the foremost in talent, diligence and progress in his studies. . . . Everywhere and at all times he was a model of gentleness, integrity and piety.' After a brilliant course of eight years he was ordained in 1654.

 After his ordination he longed to return to the work of the mission in Ireland, the work for which he was ordained. But there were perils on land and on sea. There was little use in returning to his native land if he were not allowed to do priest's work for his people. Consequently he addressed a letter, which is still preserved in the archives of the Irish  College, Rome, to the General of the Jesuits, who was at that time Rector of the College, asking to be allowed to remain in Rome and to dwell with the Fathers of San Girolamo della Carita, and promising to return to Ireland whenever his superiors should command.

Besides attending lectures at the Roman University, commonly known as the Sapienza, for his doctorate in Canon and Civil Law, he shared in the works of charity which had made the priests who lived at San Girolamo known as men of remarkable zeal. This church, dedicated to St. Jerome, on the site of the house in which he lived when he came to Rome to revise the Bible, was frequented by prelates and nobles of the Papal Court in the fifteenth century to satisfy their devotions. They held meetings in a house close by, and, on the advice of Cardinal Giulio dei Medici, formed themselves into a brotherhood of charity in 1519. When the Cardinal became Clement VII, he gave them charge of the church of San Girolamo. They were, what we call now, a Vincent de Paul Society. But, besides visiting and helping the needy, they looked after two prisons, assisted the prisoners in their sickness, and helped them, when set free, to lead an honest life. They maintained homes for penitents, and gave dowries to poor, respectable girls. They visited the sick in the hospitals, especially those in the great hospital of Santo Spirito, and saw to the wants of their families. Thus the Institution came to be known as San Girolamo della Carita. It had no rules or constitution, charity was the only bond of union. To this house belonged the Venerable Cacciaquerra and his biographer, Marangoni, who, in his Life, wrote some interesting particulars of Oliver Plunkett. But most remarkable of all the members was Philip Neri, who came to reside there in 1551. Philip Neri and his companions soon discovered the necessity of looking after patients when discharged from hospital, and set up a convalescent home in connexion with the Confraternity of San Girolamo.

This was the atmosphere of holiness, charity, and zeal which Oliver Plunkett breathed for fifteen years after he had left the Irish College. He was introduced to it by his old friend Father Scarampi. It is scarcely necessary to say that he followed in the footsteps of Philip Neri, and that he lived a life remarkable amongst the remarkable men who passed their lives there. For particulars in this respect, in the social work of Oliver Plunkett in Rome, which has hitherto not received its due attention, we are deeply indebted to the zealous research of the late gifted Monsignor O'Riordan, Rector of the Irish College, Rome. [Catholic Bulletin, May, 1920.]  Marangoni in his Life of Venerable Cacciaquerra says that
Dr. Plunkett should be ranked amongst the most illustrious personages whose virtuous lives adorned the Institute of San Girolamo della Carità. The zeal which consumed his heart for the salvation of souls is beyond belief. He devoted himself to works of piety within and without the house. He paid frequent visits to the sanctuaries bathed in the blood of so many martyrs, and he longed to sacrifice himself for the salvation of his countrymen. He frequently visited the hospital of Santo Spirito, where his devotion to the sick in the lowliest works and ways was a wonder and an edification to the physicians and other officials of the place.
Such a testimony, coming from one not of his country, brings out into bolder relief the reputation that Oliver Plunkett had earned for himself in this field of Christian charity in Rome. This wonderful charity, begotten of deep faith, was a striking thing in the midst of the paganizing influences around them. It united those princes and theologians in the closest friendship which years could not diminish or seas obliterate. They breathed the spirit of Philip Neri, who had impressed the institution of San Girolamo with his own character, and given it a tradition. His spiritual ideal was the sanctification of self through a life spent for others. Charity entirely ruled the work that was done there. The active and ardent temperament of Oliver Plunkett easily fitted into the ways and works of such an Institution, and, as we have seen, he was soon well known at the hospitals and at the prisons where he ministered. It was a fitting preparation for his life of self-sacrifice in his own land.

Such was the personality of Dr. Plunkett that it procured him friends among the great as well as among the lowly. Princes and prelates, Popes and Cardinals, valued his friendship and appreciated his qualities of mind as well as of heart. Several letters of Dr. Plunkett's are extant, in which his goodness of heart is revealed. They were written when he was Primate of Armagh to his old friends in Rome. When Monsignor Odescalchi became Pope Innocent XI, Dr. Plunkett wrote a letter to the Cardinal Prefect of the Propaganda to express his joy. The Pope's brother, Prince Odescalchi, was one of the Confraternity of San Girolamo della Carita. In his letter the Primate  recalls the charity of the Prince, and in doing so he gives us, by accident, a view of his own:
Whilst I was Professor of Theology and Controversy at Propaganda, for many years I had an opportunity of witnessing the holiness of the new Pope, and the great esteem in which his prudence and wisdom were held by all. I was particularly intimate with Don Marcantonio Odescalchi. I often assisted him when he served the poor and ragged and needy, many of them covered with vermin. He gathered them into an asylum and clothed them at his own expense. He washed them with his own hands, fed them, etc. I am sure that God gave to the Church so holy a Head mostly through the merit of the saintly Don Marcantonio.
  This letter was written on August 11, 1677, less than four years before his martyrdom.

Two other letters of Dr. Plunkett show that he had not forgotten his benefactors in Rome. He was not one who forgot a kindness. The sadness that overcast his young life (some of his relatives were dead, others had been sent into exile) remained with him in manhood, and his heart went out, with all its warmth and ardour, to those who befriended him. Monsignor Cerri was his fellow-student at the Roman College. He belonged to a family of influence and importance in Rome. Through him Cardinal Barberini, who was Cardinal Protector of Ireland, had Dr. Plunkett appointed to the Chair of Theology in the Propaganda. When Plunkett had been some years Archbishop of Armagh, hearing of the death of Monsignor Cerri' s father, he wrote:
A little while before his death, Father Scarampi wrote to your father recommending me to his protection. Through his influence I soon afterwards obtained the Chair of Theology and subsequently that of Controversy at Propaganda, where I continued to teach till I was appointed to the primatial See of this kingdom, about nine years ago. I, in these remote quarters of the Christian world, make continual remembrance of Don Tommaso in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; I pray for the prosperity of the whole house of Cerri, and I get other priests to do likewise.
Again, when he had heard of the death of Monsignor Cerri, the memory of past kindness made him write:
 I am extremely sorry for the death of Mgr. Cerri. He was my fellow- student in Rome ; his father, Don Francesco, was a very dear friend of mine. I shall have the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass offered up for him and prayers said for him by the priests of this province of Armagh. They are under an' obligation to him for all he did for them when he was Secretary of the Sacred Congregation of the Propaganda.
Plunkett was ever ready to acknowledge his indebtedness, and to show his gratitude and his remembrance of the debt.

It was to Father Scarampi, who had brought him from Ireland and who had secured a place for him in San Girolamo, that Dr. Plunkett owed a further favour. When stricken with the plague whilst attending the hospital of St. Bartholomew, Scarampi wrote on his death-bed to his brother recommending Plunkett to his care. He loved Plunkett and Plunkett loved and venerated him. It was through the influence of Father Scarampi's brother and of the Cerri family that Plunkett was appointed professor at the Propaganda. This was a work of love for Plunkett. The Propaganda had mothered the Irish Church during the days of persecution. Many of Ireland's sons had been educated at its college when they were deprived of that education at home. Many of his countrymen were at the time in the Propaganda. He devoted all his talents to the task he undertook. He filled the Chair of Theology and of Controversy for twelve years, from 1657 to 1669. The School of Controversy held at that time a place in the course of Theology similar to that which the School of Apologetics holds to-day. It had to defend the principle of Authority in religion against the supposed divine right of private judgment, together with those particular doctrines that Protestantism had assailed. The principles and the doctrines of the Catholic Church had to be explained and defended against the new heresy that had arisen in the sixteenth century. That was the scope of Dr. Plunkett's duties for twelve years. But, more than this, he raised the standard and extended the course of studies at the Propaganda. He was likewise busy preparing works, probably of religious controversy, for the press. But no trace can be found of them either in manuscript or book form. The Pope appointed him Consultor of the Congregation of the Index, at that time a useful instrument for guarding faith and discipline, and a necessary one in those times of religious rebellion and theological strife. This appointment was a token of confidence shown by the Pope in Plunkett's theological acquirements and orthodoxy. We may be sure that he devoted himself to the work with the same zeal as he showed in his works of charity and in his professional duties. Monsignor O'Riordan says: 'It is 'possible that some of the dissertations which he wrote as Consultor when submitting his Votum are still preserved in the archives of that Congregation.' [Catholic Bulletin, May, 1920].


 Oliver Plunkett, in a petition which he presented to the Propaganda whilst he was yet Roman agent of the Irish Bishops, said that there were 2,000,000 Catholics in Ireland, 1,000 secular priests, and 600 members of religious Orders. But they were constantly in the presence of the danger of imprisonment, exile, or death. The Penal Law was on the Statute Book. Peace or persecution depended on the Viceroy. Of the priests and bishops who were left in Ireland, hardly any had a fixed residence which he could call his home:
 Bishop French, of Ferns [says Mgr. O'Riordan, Catholic Bulletin, August, 1920], had been living in Ghent for 20 years ever since the departure of Rinuccini, and he dared not go back so long as Ormond had power or influence to keep him out. In 1668 the only Bishops in Ireland were Dr. McSwiney, Bishop of Dromore, whom old age and many trials had made weak in mind as well as in body, and Dr. Plunkett, Bishop of Meath, whom family influence had left free to administer his diocese, as long as he did it on the quiet. He was the only Bishop in Ireland, in 1668, and for a few years before, who was able to perform episcopal functions.
The convents of religious were in ruins or turned over to profane uses, and the religious had to live here and there, apart and in private houses, or in communities of two or or three, in little temporary dwellings. Again, quoting from Monsignor O'Riordan's article,
On the 21st January, 1669, the Sees of Dublin, Cashel, Tuam and Ossory were provided for. In the following March Edmond O'Reilly, Archbishop of Armagh, died in Paris, after years of exile from his diocese. The Holy See, on the advice of the Bishops, did not wish to fill any other vacant sees without some special need. It might do more harm than good. The appointment of many might, in fact, leave the country with fewer than there were, or none at all ; for bigotry would call the attention of the civil authorities to the audacious Roman intrusion, and the Bishops would be searched for and banished. Peter Talbot, the newly-appointed Archbishop of Dublin, writing to Propaganda two months after the death of the Archbishop of Armagh, pointed out to the Holy See the need of appointing a successor to him without delay ; for the Protestants were numerous in the North, and the strings of Catholic discipline had been loosened during the exile of the late Primate and his predecessor. It is urgent ' although it is not expedient for the present to make any new Bishop, lest Ormond should say that the Papal authority had received a sudden and dangerous increase in Ireland since his withdrawal.'

Several names were remanded to the Holy See, and their merits were discussed. At length the Pope said: 'There is no reason why we should spend our time dealing with uncertainties, whilst we have a certainty before our eyes. There is Oliver Plunkett, a man of approved virtue, of consummate learning, of long Roman experience, with all the qualities needed for the vacant Primacy; I therefore name him Archbishop of Armagh.' He was appointed on the 9th July, 1669. His name does not appear amongst those recommended from Ireland; but when his appointment became known letters of rejoicing were sent to Rome from many quarters. From Ghent wrote the exiled Bishop of Ferns, from Paris wrote Dr. Dooley, the new Vicar-Apostolic of Limerick, on his way to his diocese; from Paris also wrote Dr. O'Mahony, Professor at St. Sulpice, soon after made Bishop of Killaloe. And the Archbishop of Dublin wrote to the Secretary of Propaganda:

 Most agreeable to me were the Roman letters by which I learned of the presentation of the Most Illustrious and learned Oliver Plunkett to the See of Armagh .... Certainly no one could be appointed better fitted than he is. I myself would have proposed him in the first place, but that he had written to me expressing his desire not to enter for some years on the Irish Mission until he had completed some works which he was preparing for the press.'

Having been consecrated by the Bishop of Gand, in his private chapel, on the first Sunday in Advent, 1669, Dr. Plunkett set out for Ireland. He wrote to the Propaganda the day after his consecration, 'I am thinking of passing for an Italian who goes from curiosity to see London. I have found an Englishman who will send my Bulls and Letters to London. My articles of devotion I will leave with the Bishop of Ferns, until a ship is sailing direct to Dublin.' He did not find his way to London as easy as he expected. He remained in London to do some work, to prevent a proposed penal enactment. To influence the Court was to influence Parliament. He had a letter from Cardinal Barberini, the Cardinal Protector of Ireland, to the Queen. He had 'a very favourable audience.' In a letter that he wrote to the Cardinal to tell him of his audience he says that he was 'secretly lodged' by Father Howard, the Queen's Almoner, 'for ten days in his private apartments in the royal palace.' In 'bitter cold, strong wind, and a heavy fall of snow,' he arrived in Dublin. His enemies were on the look-out and were aware of his landing, for the King wrote to the Viceroy, 'If you can dexterously find them (Plunkett and Agretti) out and apprehend them it will be an acceptable service.' Plunkett knew of the danger, and having remained three days in the house of Sir Nicholas Plunkett, by whom he was brought up in boyhood, he went directly to his diocese. He wrote to the Secretary of Propaganda:
 I had hardly arrived in Dublin when the Valesians told the Council of State, in order that the Viceroy, apprised of my presence, might have me imprisoned and sent out of the country. But as the Earl of Roscommon is in Dublin, who is a relative of mine, and to whom I showed some kindness when he was in Rome, he set the Viceroy at rest about me, pledging his honour in my favour.
From March, 1670, when Dr. Plunkett took possession of his see in Armagh, until his death we are able to follow the vicissitudes of his life through his letters to the Cardinal Protector of Ireland in Rome, or to the Inter-nuncio in Brussels. There must be many of these letters in various archives in Rome. It is to be sincerely hoped that some one will continue the splendid research work begun by Monsignor O'Riordan and bring these documents to light. It is very fortunate that Oliver Plunkett was such an indefatigable letter writer. But it was his filial devotion to the Chair of Peter that prompted those letters. He tells of his labours and difficulties in his episcopal work, his wearisome journeys, his poverty, the suspicions, opposition, and persecution he had to encounter. In all these we see him the true servant of his Master, self-sacrificing, with no thought of self, and full of courage. His activity and zeal seem to have known no bounds. Within a month and a half of his arrival in Ireland he confirmed 10,000 persons. He held two Synods in his own diocese within two months, and presided over a general Synod of the Irish Bishops in Dublin in June, 1670. Other provincial Councils and Synods soon followed ; all for the correction of abuses and the enforcement of ecclesiastical discipline. Witness, too, his zeal for education and his establishment of houses and schools, at his own expense, in the various dioceses of Ulster. And yet he himself slept many a night beneath the stars, 'refreshed,' as he terms it, by the rains that fell on him.

Hunted from place to place, he spent the next nine years of his primacy seeking hiding in woods and mountains, adopting various names and disguises. Yet, in spite of edicts and rewards, he writes, 'I will remain in the kingdom, though retired in some country place. ... I am morally certain that I shall be taken, so many are in search of me, yet, in spite of danger, I will remain with my flock, nor will I abandon them till they drag me to a ship.' These are indeed the words of the good shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. It was the very spirit of self-sacrifice he had breathed at San Girolamo. It was after a mission of charity, on visiting his relative, the aged Bishop of Meath, who was dying, that Dr. Plunkett was taken prisoner in Dublin on the 6th of December, 1679.

We are all acquainted with the trumped-up accusations brought against him, imaginary and malicious to the last degree - 'that he had enrolled 70,000 men to unite with the French on their arrival; that he exacted money from the clergy to introduce the French, and pay the army; that he had visited all Ireland, and examined and explored all the seaport towns and fortresses of the kingdom, in order to introduce the French by a sure port, etc.' We know, too, to our shame, of the despicable, perjured informers who were brought as witnesses against him, the ex-friars MacMoyer, Codd, and Gormley; the transference of the trial to London, and the deliberate delay caused to Dr. Plunkett's witnesses, who at great sacrifice and expense wished to travel. Left without witnesses or documents, and tried by judges who knew nothing of his saintly life and works, he showed that the charges of conspiracy and treason were utterly groundless. But he emphasized his fulfilment of the episcopal office: 'I will not deny that as long as there was any toleration I did exercise the functions of a Bishop, but that, by the Second of Elizabeth, is only praemunire and no treason.' And then the great Christian soul shows itself:
 I had rather die ten thousand deaths than wrongfully accuse anybody, and the time will come when your lordship will see what these witnesses are that have come in against me. I do assure your lordship that if I were a man that had no good principles I might easily have saved my life, but I had rather die ten thousand deaths than wrongfully to take away one farthing of any man's goods, one day of his liberty, or one minute of his life.
  All the Lord Chief Justice could say in reply was: ' I am sorry to see you persist in the principles of that religion'. Yes, that was the whole front of the offence. He was an Irish Bishop, who carried out the functions of his office.

Dr. Plunkett listened with complete happiness and resignation to the death sentence: 'God gave me,' he wrote to Father Corker, his fellow-prisoner and confessor, 'though unworthy of it, that grace to have fortem animum mortis terrore carentem.' His calmness and strength did not desert him when drawn on a hurdle through the streets of London to Tyburn. The nobility of his bearing and his Christian constancy made a profound impression on Protestants and Catholics alike who crowded round the scaffold. The piety and nobility of his discourse, before the cart was drawn away, affected the spectators, so that they proclaimed with one accord his innocence, and that 'did he live for one hundred years yet never could he have gained such glory for himself, for God, for his country and for the Catholic faith ' (Father Arsdekin).

These are but a few features in the life of this saintly, courageous, charitable, and Christ-like priest and prelate. They have been put together to place on record in these pages an appreciation of them on the occasion of his happy Beatification by His Holiness Benedict XV. Our indebtedness for the material is to Cardinal Moran and to Monsignor O'Riordan. It is a matter of deep regret that the latter was not spared to finish his scholarly life of our Beatus. We owe him a deep debt of gratitude for his untiring research. We must also refer to his painstaking efforts to acquire one of the oldest pictures of Dr. Plunkett. We shall let him describe the matter in his own words:

 At the end of the corridor (at San Girolamo), on the left, is a token of the impression which Oliver Plunkett had made on the Prelates and Princes who were the Deputies of San Girolamo della Carita during his Tesidence there. After his martyrdom they had a portrait of him painted, and hung up on the wall of the corridor I have described. It hung there for nearly two centuries and a half as a witness to the esteem which his virtues had won. Under the portrait is the following inscription: 'Father Oliver Plunkett, priest of the Oratory, named by Clement IX Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of Ireland, who for having enforced ecclesiastical discipline was falsely accused before the King by renegades to their faith, and was hanged, drawn, and quartered, at London, honoured by this House of San Girolamo della Carita by his glorious death July 1st, 1681.' This original painting is no longer to be seen in that corridor: but a recent copy takes its place to preserve the continuity of the memorial. A few years ago, through the kindness of the present Deputies of San Girolamo della Carita, I got possession of the original painting, which is now beside me in the room where I am writing. As a work of art it is not of very special value, but as a memorial I hold it as sacred, and beyond price. ... I think it right to record my thanks to Archbishop Lazzareschi, (R.I.P), Prince Antici Mattei (R.I.P), His Excellency Prince Aldobrandini and Monsignor Talamo. To their influence chiefly I owe the privilege of possessing the painting.

It is pathetic to read these last words from the Monsignor's pen. He did not long enjoy the privilege of the picture. He knows the reality now. He had striven hard to know the Primate better. He had searched all over the Eternal City for the marks of his footsteps, for the records of his words. It was a labour of love and a patriotic duty. The Beatus and the Biographer know each other better now in the companionship of Ireland's saints and scholars. May their lives and works be to us an inspiring ideal in the cause of God and country! May they make our efforts generous, noble, and Christ-like in the same sacred cause.


The Irish Ecclesiastical Record, Vol XVI, (October 1920), 265-275.
Content Copyright © De Processu Martyriali 2020-2021. All rights reserved.

Sunday 20 June 2021

Ireland's Martyrs

June 20 is the Feast of the Irish Martyrs and below is a presentation of the work of one of the nineteenth-century writers who set out to rediscover the accounts of those who had suffered for the faith. Myles O'Reilly (1825–80) published his Memorials of those who Suffered for the Catholic Faith in Ireland in the Sixteenth, Seventeenth, and Eighteenth Centuries on both sides of the Atlantic at the end of the 1860s. It was the only accessible catalogue of Irish martyrs until the publication of Our Martyrs in 1896 by Father Denis Murphy, S.J.. Major O'Reilly used many of the same sources as Father Murphy, the majority of which were written in Latin and preserved in books and manuscripts in various institutions at home and abroad.  His work blew the dust off these archives and re-opened their forgotten writings to a wider audience. The following review of his work has been taken from The Catholic World, 'a monthly eclectic magazine of general literature and science', founded in New York just a few years before the Memorials of those who Suffered was published. This is a truly exhaustive (and exhausting!) review as the article begins with the reign of Henry VIII and goes right through until the end of the seventeenth century. It quotes many of the sources translated by O'Reilly and the sheer unrelenting scale of it forms a fitting tribute to all of the Irish Martyrs on this their feast day.

But the souls of the just are in the hand of God, and the torment of death shall not touch them.  In the sight of the unwise they seemed to die: and their departure was taken for misery: And their going away from us, for utter destruction: but they are in peace.  And though in the sight of men they suffered torments, their hope is full of immortality. Wisdom 3: 1-4.



Memorials of those who suffered for the Catholic Faith in Ireland in the Sixteenth, Seventeenth, and Eighteenth Centuries. Collected and edited from the original authorities. By Myles O'Reilly, B.A., LL.I). New York: Catholic Publication Society. 1869. x2mo, pp. 462.

 The Catholic Church in Ireland, oppressed from the days of the Norman invasion, became, from the time of Henry VIII., a living martyr; her sufferings having no parallel in Europe from the time of the three centuries of persecution under the Roman emperors. It was not so much the persecution and martyrdom of individuals so much as of a race and nation. Hence, while the Acts of the Early Roman Martyrs formally drawn up, have long since been collected by Ruinart; while a Challoner, for England, collected records of the martyrs of the faith in his Missionary Priests that all-absorbing favorite of our earliest days; while even the memorials of the missionary martyrs in our own land had been collected, no one seemed to think of selecting the records of Ireland's martyred priests from the harrowing tale of the suffering and unconquerably faithful people amid whom they perished. 

It has been well that this pious task has at last been undertaken, and so well accomplished. This work of Mr. O'Reilly is a plain, unvarnished collection of contemporary accounts, with no attempt to make, from the simple details given, a graphic and affecting picture. Brief, too brief, indeed, many of these records are; but further researches, unexplored archives, correspondence not hitherto consulted, will, we trust, ere long, give more extended and edifying memorials of these faithful clergymen, these bishops, priests secular and regular, of the Isle of Saints.

During much of the period of the great Irish persecution, during that long interval between 1540 and 1701 it was scarcely possible to draw up and send out of Ireland, much preserve in it, extended accounts of the martyrdom of those who died for the faith. Research or inquiry into their births or early lives was out of the question.

The chief sources where we now seek information as to these heroic men are the historical writings of the religious orders who labored in Ireland. Among the Franciscans, the great annalist of the order is Father Luke Wadding, an Irishman, who has preserved many valuable accounts relating to his native country. Colgan, another Irish writer of the same order, in the preface to the Acta Sanctorum Hiberniae gives an account of the death of of his literary associates, Fathers Fleming and Ward.

De Burgo, of the order of Preachers, published a well-known work, Hibernia Dominicana, devoted to the history of his order in Ireland.

The Jesuit, Father Tanner, in Societas Jesu Militans, records the lives of many of his order who died for the faith in Ireland, and, in another work, not cited by our author, his Mortes Illustres, while treating of distinguished Irish members, enters into the persecutions of the church in their native land.

Then there were special works on the various persecutions: the Relatio Persecutionis Hiberniae by Father Dominic a Rosario, published at Lisbon in 1655; Bruodin's Propugnaculum Catholicae Veritatis, issued at Prague in 1669; Bishop Rothe's Analecta Sacra Nova et Mira de Rebus Catholicorum in Hibernia pro Fide et Religione Gestis, published at Cologne, in 1617, under the assumed name of Philadelphus; and the Processu Martyrialis of the same author, which appeared two years later; the Persecutio Hibernia 1619; Morrison's Threnodia Hiberno-Catholica sive Planctus Universalis totius Cleri et Populi Regni Hiberniae published at Innspruck, in 1659; and Carve's Lyra, Sulzbach, 1666, with other works of more general scope.

Besides these printed works, Mr. O'Reilly cites several manuscripts preserved in the Burgundian Library at Brussels — Magna Supplicia, written about 1600; an account of the martyrdom of Bishop Dovany in 1612; Mooney's account of the Franciscan Province in Ireland; and unpublished letters of Irish Jesuits.

The first blows at the Catholic Church in Ireland were struck under Henry VIII. at the monasteries; then came the intrusion of men, as bishops, who acknowledged that monster as head of the church, and the expulsion of those who refused to admit this new power in the crown. In the reign of his daughter Elizabeth came the doctrine that the sovereign, provided always, nevertheless, that he be not a Catholic, is not only head of the church, but empowered to make creeds and a ritual for worship. In a few reigns more came the doctrine that the Calvinists in a nation are the head of the church and state, may behead kings, make and unmake worships and creeds, and put to death all who gainsay them.

The persecution under Henry was comparatively bloodless; the plunder was too plentiful for men to stop to slay. Only one instance is recorded — that of the beheading of the guardian of the Franciscan convent at Monaghan, and of several of his friars; but we can scarcely credit that under so sanguinary a tyrant so little blood was shed in Ireland, where no scruple ever held back the English sword from slaughter, only a few Irish families or bloods being recognized as men whom to kill was murder.

England had her illustrious martyr, Cardinal John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester; Ireland in her hierarchy had an illustrious confessor in William Walsh, Bishop of Meath, a Cistercian, born at Dunboyne, and a monk in the Abbey of Bective, till its suppression.

"Whatever doubt there may be about the place of his birth and his early history, there is none whatever as to his eminent virtues, distinguished abilities, and the heroic fortitude with which he bore numerous and prolonged sufferings for the faith. His unbending orthodoxy and opposition to the innovations of Henry VIII. and Edward VI. marked him out for promotion after the accession of Mary, and accordingly we find him associated with the zealous primate. Dr. Dowdall, in the commission to drive from the sanctuary all such as were faithless to their trust.

"Dr. Walsh was consecrated about the close of 1554, and immediately applied himself with zeal and energy to reform abuses, and to heal the wounds which during the last two reigns had been inflicted on faith, morals, and discipline. The period of his usefulness was, however, destined to be brief, and he had time merely to stimulate his priests and to fortify his diocese when the gathering storm burst over the Irish church, and sacrificed the Bishop of Meath among its first and noblest victims. Queen Mary died in 1558, and was succeeded by Elizabeth, who at once publicly embraced the reformed tenets, and proceeded to have them enforced on all. In 1560, an act was passed, under the deputyship of the Earl of Suffolk, which ordered all ecclesiastical persons, judges, officers, justices, mayors, and all the other queen's officers, to take the oath of supremacy under penalty of forfeiture, and also enacted that if any person should, by writing, printing, teaching, preaching, by express words, deed, or act, maintain any foreign spiritual jurisdiction, he should for the first offence forfeit all his goods and suffer one year's imprisonment, for the second offence should incur the penalty of praemunire, and for the third be deemed guilty of high treason."
He was first imprisoned in 1560, and after a brief respite, was, in 1565, 

"reconducted to his former prison; this was ‘a subterraneous dungeon, damp and noisome — not a ray of light penetrated thither; and for thirteen years this was his unvarying abode.’ During all that time his food was of the coarsest kind, and, with the exception of rare intervals, when the intercession of some influential friends obtained - a momentary relaxation, he was allowed no occupation that could cheer the tedium of his imprisonment In all this lengthened martyrdom, prayer was his resource, and, as he himself subsequently avowed, he often-times passed whole days and nights overwhelmed with heavenly consolations, so that his dungeon seemed transformed into a paradise of delights. To preclude the possibility of idleness, he procured a bed made of twisted cords, and whensoever his mind was fatigued with prayer, he applied himself to untie those cords, and often was he well wearied with the exertion before he could reunite them to compose himself to sleep.

"His persecutors, overcome by his constancy, and finding his fervor in spiritual contemplation a continual reproach to their own wickedness, at length, about Christmas, 1572, connived at his escape."

Reaching the continent, he died at Alcala, in 1577, bearing to the grave the marks of his thirteen years’ imprisonment.

Next in importance among the sufferers for the faith was a most remarkable man, David Wolf, a native of Limerick, a priest of the Society of Jesus, whose labors, perils, sufferings of every kind, while acting as nuncio to the Pope in Ireland from 1560 to 1578, form the matter for a most interesting volume — not only from the personal interest attaching to a man of his ability, learning, and courage, but from the influence exercised by him in perpetuating the episcopacy, and, consequently, priesthood and the faith in Ireland.
The first martyr of whom we have any details is the Franciscan, Daniel O'Duillian, of the convent of Youghal, put to death in 1569. Indictment, trial, judge, or jury seem have had no part in his cause. Father Mooney thus describes death as he obtained authentic information within fifty years after its occurrence:

"When one Captain Dudal (probaly Dowdall) with his troop were torturing him by order of Lord Arthur Grey, the viceroy, first they took him to the gate which is called Trinity Gate, and tied his hands behind his back,  and, having fastened heavy stones to his feet, thrice pulled him up with ropes from the earth to the top of the tower and left him hanging there for a space. At length, after many insults and tortures, he was hung with his head down and his feet in the air, at the mill near the monastery; and, hanging there a long time, while he lived he never uttered an impatient word but, like a good Christian, incessantly repeated prayers, now aloud, now in a low voice. At length the soldiers were ordered to shoot at him, as though he were a target; but yet, that his sufferings might be the longer and more cruel, they might not aim at his head or heart, but as much as they pleased at any other part of his body. After he had received many balls, one, with cruel mercy, loaded his gun with two balls and shot him through the heart. Thus did he receive the glorious crown of martyrdom the 22d of April, in the year aforesaid."
Similar disregard of all law and forms of justice appears in the terrible martyrdom of the Franciscan Father O'Dowd, who died like St John Nepomucen, a martyr of the seal of confession.

With some other prisoners, he fell in 1577, into the hands of the soldiers of Felton, then president of Connaught.
“They pressed a certain secular, who was one of their captives, to tell them something of the plots which they said he had made with others against the queen of England but he protested he could tell nothing but the truth, and that there were no plots; so they determined to hang him. When they said this, he begged he might be allowed to make his confession to Father O'Dowd; this they granted the more readily that they thought the priest, if he were tortured, would reveal what might be told him. As soon as the confession was over, the secular was hung; and then they asked the priest, who was also to be hung, if he had learned aught of the business in confession. He answered in the negative, and, refusing to reveal anything of a confession, they offered him life and freedom if he would reveal, and threatened torture if he refused. He answered he could not, and they immediately knotted a cord round his forehead, and, thrusting a piece of wood through it, slowly twisted it so tightly that at length, after enduring this torment for a long time, his skull was broken in, and, the brain being crushed, he died, June 9th, 1577."
Father Mooney recorded this horrid statement from the lips of some of the very soldiery who perpetrated it.

When Dr. Patrick O’Hely, Bishop of Mayo, and his companion, Father Cornelius O'Rorke, were arrested in the County Kerry, soon after landing, they were loaded with chains and imprisoned in Limerick till Sir William Drury arrived.
"The two prisoners were first placed on the rack, their arms and feet were beaten with hammers, so that their thigh-bones were broken, and sharp iron points and needles were cruelly thrust under their nails, which caused an extreme agony of suffering. For a considerable time they were subjected to these tortures, which the holy confessors bore patiently for the love of Christ, mutually exhorting each other to constancy and perseverance.

"At length they were taken from the rack, and hanged from the branches of a neighboring tree. Their bodies were left suspended there for fourteen days, and were used in the interim as a target by the brutal soldiery."
Here began, it will be seen, a sort of process, or at least arraignment, torture, and execution; although anything like a trial is wanting.

But in the fearful deaths of Rev. Daniel O'Nielan, (March 28th, 1580,) Rev. Maurice Kinrehan, Rev. Maurice Scanlan and his companions in the same year, no pretence of examination was made; the soldiery either killing them on the spot, or wreaking on them any and every cruelty that wanton malignity could devise or suggest.

In the case of the heroic Cistercian, Abbot of Boyle, Father Gelasius O'Quillenan, and his companions, arrested while in Dublin, in 1580, there was not the wanton cruelty of lawless soldiers, or the mere blood-thirstiness of officers accustomed to every barbarity. Here the action proceeded from the very highest English authority in Ireland, in the days of Lord Coke, who tells us in those legal treatises which have come down to us as oracles, that he never knew of torture having been used in England.

The abbot and his companions underwent preliminary examinations.
"John O'Garvin, then Protestant Dean of Christ Church, was among those who assisted at his first interrogatory, and, having proposed many inducements to the abbot ’to abandon the popish creed,' Gelasius in reply, reproved him for preferring the deceitfull vanities of this world to the lasting  joys of eternity, and exhorted him ‘to renounce the errors and iniquity of heresy by which he had hitherto warred against God, and to make amends for the past by joining with him in professing the name of Christ, that he might thus become worthy to receive a heavenly crown.’ The holy abbot  and his companion were then subjected to torture, and, among their other sufferings, we find it commemorated that their arms and legs were broken by repeated blows, and fire was applied to their feet. The only words of Gelasius during all this torture were, 'Though you should offer me the  princedom of England, I will not forfeit my eternal reward.’ Sentence of death being passed against them, they were led out with all possible ignominy to execution. They, however, were filled with consolation; the sight of the joyous sufferers excited the admiration of the assembled multitude, and many even of the heretics declared that they were more like angels than men. It was on the 21st November, 1580, that they were happily crowned with martyrdom. The garments which they wore, and the implements of their torture, were eagerly purchased by the Catholics, and cherished by them with religious veneration.
Nor can it be said that in the use of torture thus used to wring from the Irish clergy admissions to justify their execution, the authorities in Dublin acted without the knowledge or consent of the queen. Any such pretext is at once scattered to the winds by English records in the case of one of the most illustrious martyrs in the whole honored list of Ireland's witnesses for the faith — Dermod O'Hurley, Archbishop of Cashel.
" The birthplace of this glorious martyr was a little village in the diocese of Limerick, less than three miles from that city, called Lycodoon, where his parents lived respectably by farming, both of tillage and cattle; they were held in good estimation by their neighbors, both rich and poor, especially James Geraldine, Earl of Desmond.

“ Having then been raised to the episcopacy by Gregory XIII., and named Archbishop of Cashel, he took his route toward Ireland."
At Waterford he was detected by a Protestant named Baal, on whose information he was pursued to the Castle of Slane, where he had, indeed, taken refuge for a time, but had proceeded further. When Lord Slane found himself in danger, he joined in the pursuit of the archbishop, and, overtaking him at Carrick-on-Suir, induced him to proceed to Dublin, where his arrival is noted by Archbishop Loftus and Sir H. Wallop, in a letter to Robert Beale, temporary chief secretary to the queen, dated Oct. 8th, 1583, and still preserved in the Public Record Office in London. In a subsequent letter, on the 10th of December, addressed to Sir Francis Walsingham, they say: "Among other letters directed to us, and brought by this passage, we received one from your honor declaring her Majesty's pleasure for the proceeding with Dr Hurley by torture or any other severe manner of proceeding to gain his knowledge of all foreign practices against her majesty's state, wherein we partly forebore to deal till now." Then they remark, "for that we want here either rack or other engine of torture to terrify him ... the Tower of London should be a better school than the Castle of Dublin ... we do wish that we had directions to send him thither."

The pretext here was shallow there was wit enough in the dominant party in Ireland to invent any necessary racks. Walsingham evidently directed them to proceed in Dublin, and himself suggested the mode of torture. On the 7th March, 1584, they again write, “We made commission to Mr. Waterhouse and Mr. Secretary Fenton to put him to the torture such as your honor advised us, which was, to toast his feet against the fire with hot boots.” What these Walsingham boots were we learn from contemporary statements taken down from eye-witnesses. "The executioners place the archbishop’s feet and calves in tin boots filled with oil; they then fastened his feet in wooden shackle or stocks, and placed fire under them. The boiling oil so penetrated the feet and legs that morsels of the skin and even flesh fell off and left the bone bare. The officer whose duty it was to preside over the torture, unused to such unheard-of suffering, and unable to look upon such an inhuman spectacle, or to hear the piteous cries of the innocent prelate suddenly left his seat and quitted the place.” (Pages 91-2.) All this failed to extort from him anything to justify his arraignment even, though the torture was continued till the executioners believed life extinct, and hastily endeavored to restore animation; for he "lost all voice and sense, and when taken out lay on the ground like dead."( ib. 93.)

The lords justices were in great perplexity. The judges, on being consulted, had positively declared that, as no act of treason had been committed by him in Ireland, he could not by law be arraigned. Their opinion, still preserved in the Public Record Office, is given by our author, (p. 109.) Again they apply to Walsingham, and the whole passage is so curious that we cite it at length:
"And herein we thought good to remember your honor by way of our opinion that, considering how obstinate and wilful we find him every way, if he should be referred to a public trial, his impudent and clamorous denial might do great harm to the ill-affected here, who in troth have no small admiration of him. And yet, having had conference with some of the best lawyers in the land, we find that they make a scruple to arraign him here, for that his treasons were committed in foreign parts, the statute in that  behalf being not here as it is in England. And therefore we think it not amiss (if it be allowed of there) to have him executed by martial law, against which he can have no just challenge, for that he hath neither lands nor goods, and as by that way may be avoided many harms, which by his presence, standing at ordinary trial, and retaining still his former impudence and negative protestations, he may do to the people."
The idea of any man impudently objecting to submit to the honor of being executed by martial law, when a trial at law must result in his acquittal, is indeed extraordinary, and sufficient to disquiet Christian rulers.

Elizabeth relieved them. A letter of April 29th, 1584, announced her majesty's resolution for the course to be holden with Hurley, namely, "that they should proceed to his execution (if it might be) by ordinary trial by law or otherwise, by martial law."

Loftus and Wallop, accordingly, on the 19th of June, 1584, gave warrant to the knight-marshal in her majesty's name to do execution upon him." (Letter July 9th, 1584.)

Accordingly, on Friday before Trinity Sunday, Hurley — whose wounds had been so skilfully treated by a Jesuit who was enabled to reach him, as to enable the holy sufferer to regain sufficient strength to sit up and even rest on his feet — was ordered to prepare for execution. He was taken out at early dawn, amid the cries of his fellow Catholic prisoners, proclaiming his innocence, one bishop, who was expiating in fetters a guilty pusillanimity, exclaiming that he himself, for the scandal he had given, deserved to die, but that the archbishop was an innocent and holy man. He was drawn on a hurdle through the garden gate to a wood near the city, and "there he was hanged on a withey, calling on God, and forgiving his torturers with all his heart." At evening his body was buried in the half-ruined church of St. Kevin. So great was the veneration felt for this holy man, that the church was restored to satisfy the devotion of those who flocked to the spot to recommend themselves to his prayers, and many of whom averred that miracles were wrought there.

Elizabeth and the ministers of her godless tyranny, in thus trampling on law and justice, had gained nothing toward the advancement of the new doctrines in Ireland. The death of Dr. Hurley but confirmed the Irish Catholics more immovably in the faith.

In another case, Dr. Richard Creagh, Archbishop of Armagh, who escaped from the Tower of London in 1565, but, after two years' labors in Ireland, was seized in Connaught in 1567, the government ventured on a trial at law but the jury acquitted him. Little did this avail: he was kept a prisoner, but at last effected his escape, and, for a short time, labored to console the afflicted Catholics. Falling again into the hands of the persecutors, he was sent to England, and died of poison in the Tower of London, (Oct. 14th, 1585,) leaving one of the most venerated names in the annals of the Irish church. Another prelate, Murlagh O'Brien, Bishop of Emly, died the same year in prison, at Dublin, after undergoing tortures.

The interesting biography of another martyr, Rev. Maurice Kinrechtin, gives a picture of a Catholic Easter during these dark ages in Ireland that is too touching to omit. It is in a letter from Father Robert  Rochfort:
'I send you an account of the glorious martyrdom of a friend of mine, Maurice Kinrechtin, a pious priest, chaplain to the Earl of Desmond, whom you know. He was for this cause taken prisoner by the English, and taken to your native town of Clonmel, where he lay in prison for more than a year. On the eve of Easter, 1585, Victor White, one of the principal citizens of Clonmel and a pious Catholic, obtained from the head jailer permission for the priest to pass the night in his house; this the jailer agreed to, but secretly informed the President of Munster, an English heretic, who chanced to be in the town, that, if he wished, he might easily seize all the principal citizens while hearing mass in the house of Mr. White at daybreak; at the same time he bargained to be paid for his perfidy. At the hour agreed on, the soldiers rushed into the house and seized on Victor; but all the others, hearing the noise, tried to escape by the back-doors and windows; a certain matron, trying to escape, fell and broke her arm. The soldiers found the chalice and other things for mass; they sought everywhere for the priest, (who had not yet begun the mass,) and came at length to a heap of straw, under which he lay hid, and, thrusting their swords through it, wounded him in the thigh; but he preserved silence, and, through fear of worse, concealed his suffering, and soon after escaped from the town into the country. But the intrepid Victor (who, although he had for this reason suffered much, could never be induced to attend the conventicles of the heretics) was thrown into prison because he would not give up the priest, and would, do doubt, have been put to death, had not Maurice, hearing of the danger of his friend, voluntarily surrendered himself to the president, showing a friendship truly Christian. The president upbraided him much, and, having sentenced him to death, offered him his life if he would abjure our Catholic faith and profess the queen to be head of the church. There came to him also a preacher, and strove long, but in vain, to seduce the martyr; nor would he on any account betray any of those who had heard his mass, or to whom he had at any time administered the sacraments. At length he was dragged at the tail of a horse to the place of execution as a traitor. Being come there, he devoutly and learnedly exhorted the people to constancy in the faith. The executioner cut him down from the gallows when yet half alive, and cut off his sacred head, and the minister struck it in the face. Then the Catholics by prayers and bribes obtained of the executioners that they should not lacerate his body any further, and they buried it as honorably as they could. Farewell, and peace in the Lord, and be ye imitators — if occasion offers — of the courageous Maurice Kinrechtin, and till then prepare your souls for the trial. Your devoted servant, dated from the College of St. Anthony, 1586, 20th March, ROBERT ROCHFORT."
Thus it went on during the reign of Elizabeth. The year 1588 witnessed many hanged, drawn, and quartered — the Rev. Peter Miller, at Wexford; Peter Meyler, at Galway, and Maurice Eustace — both candidates for the priesthood, the Franciscan fathers, O'Molloy, Dogherty, and Ferrall, at Abbeyleix. The next year another of the same order at Clonmel.

Curry, in his Civil Wars in Ireland, thus sums up other examples:
"John Stephens, priest, for that he said mass to Teague McHugh, was hanged and quartered by the Lord Burroughs, in 1507; Thady O'Boyle, guardian of the monastery of Donegal, was slain by the English in his own monastery; six friars were slain in the monastery of Moynihigan; John O’Calyhor and Bryan O’Trevor, of the Order of St Bernard, were slain in their own monastery, De Sancta Maria, in Ulster; as also Felimy O’Hara, a lay-brother; so was Aeneas Penny, parish priest of Killagh, slain at the altar in his parish church there; Cahill McGoran; Rory O’Donnellan; Peter McQuillan; Patrick O'Kenna; George Power, vicar-general of the diocese of Ossory; Andrew Stritch, of Limerick; Bryan O'Murihirtagh, vicar-general of the diocese of Clonfert; Doroghow O'Molowny, of Thomond; John Kelly, of Louth; Stephen Patrick, of Annaly; John Pillis, friar; Rory McHenlea; Tirilagh Mclnisky, a lay-brother. All those that come after Aeneas Penny, together with Walter Fernan, priest, died in the Castle of Dublin, either through hard usage and restraint or the violence of torture."
To whom may be added the Rev. George Power; Rev. John Walsh; Bishop Brady, of Kilmore, and his companions, whose sufferings are here most touchingly given; the Rev. Donatus O'Mollony, so tortured by iron boots and thumbscrews, as well as the rack — of all which there was now, apparently, a full supply in Ireland — that he died a few hours after.

But single executions were not prompt enough. In 1602, the authorities intimated that such of the clergy as presented themselves to the magistrates would be allowed to take their departure from the kingdom. Forty-two, secular priests and fathers of the Dominican and Cistercian orders, believing that a Protestant government would keep faith with Catholics, accepted the offer, and assembling, as directed, at Inniscattery, were put on board a vessel of war to sail for France. But no sooner had they reached the broad Atlantic, than the whole of these priests were thrown overboard. On the return of the vessel to port, great indignation was pretended by the authorities, and the queen cashiered the officers; while they were, in fact, secretly rewarded.

This martyrdom, fearful for its treachery and the number of the priestly victims, closed, so to say, the reign of bloody Elizabeth. The hatred of Catholicity was intense; but yet there was apparent from first to last, a sense of respect for the opinion of the Catholic powers, an attempt to justify the executions by color of law, or excuse them as unintended acts of severity in putting down revolts or conducting military operations.

When the son of Mary, herself a martyr and sufferer, ascended the throne, his accession was hailed by the Catholic Irish with a burst of joy. A prince of their own race, they could regard him with feelings never awakened by former sovereigns of England. The memory of his mother would have bound them to him. He might have rendered Ireland a happy country. Led away by this vision, the Irish Catholics openly celebrated the long proscribed worship; but they soon were rudely awakened from their delusion. The glorious army of martyrs under James I. begins with Redmond O'Gallagher, Bishop of Derry, hacked to pieces by a party of horse in 1604.

Among all the martyrs of this reign, however, the most illustrious was Cornelius O'Dovany, Bishop of Down and Connor, put to death at Dublin, February 1st, 1611. At an early age he embraced the rule of  St Francis, and became a model of piety and patience. Raised to the perilous dignity of the episcopate, he labored strenuously to fulfil its duties. At last, he was arrested and sent to Dublin Castle, where he  nearly perished from want of food and of all comforts. As the persecutors admitted that they could not legally compass his death, he was at last released. But it was only for a time. Seizing as a pretext his presence in the district held by the Earl of Tyrone in his rising against the crown, they again, in June 1611, committed him to his former prison. He was then brought to trial, and although, he pleaded the Act of Oblivion, which clearly covered his case, the government, grown wiser in its malice, packed a jury, and obtained a verdict.

Our author thus describes his martyrdom from contemporary narratives:

“The 1st of February, at four o’clock in the afternoon, he was called to mount the cart which, surrounded by guards, stood at the prison door. When the holy bishop came in sight of that triumphal chariot, he sighed and said, ‘My Lord Jesus, for my sake, went on foot, bearing his cross, to the mountain where he suffered; and must I be borne in a cart, as though unwilling to die for him, when I would hasten with willing feet to that glory? Would that I might bear my cross and hasten on my feet to meet my Lord!’ Turning to his fellow-sufferer, Patrick, he said, ‘Come my brave comrade and worthy soldier of Christ, let us imitate his death as best we may who was led to the slaughter as a sheep before the shearer. Then bending down and kissing the cart, he mounted up into it, and sat down with his back to the horses, and was thus drawn through the paved streets to the field where the gallows was erected.

“Cornelius, when he was come to the place of sacrifice, being solicitous for the constancy of his colleague, begged that Patrick might be put to death first; for he feared lest, by the sight of his death and the wiles of the Calvinists, Patrick might be induced to yield to human weakness. But as his wish would not be granted. Father Patrick assured the bishop he might lay aside all fear for him. ‘Though,’ said he, ‘I would desire to die first, and be strengthened in my agony by your paternal charity, since we are given up to the will of others, go, happy father, and fear not for my constancy; aid me by your prayers with God, by whose help I am sure that neither death nor life, nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor any other creature, shall separate me from the love of Christ, or from my companionship with you.’ Rejoiced at these words, Cornelius threw himself on his knees, but had only breathed a hasty prayer (which yet reached God in heaven) when the councillors, the captain and guard called out to make an end quickly. The field, situated to the north of the city, which would easily hold 3000 persons, was crowded. The executioner was an Englishman and a Protestant, (for no Irishman could be found who would stain himself with the blood of the bishop,) who was condemned to death for robbery, and was promised his life for acting as executioner on this occasion. Yet, though he had thus purchased his life, he was touched with reverence and compassion for the gray hairs of the bishop, and prayed his pardon, and with trembling hands adjusted the noose. The moment the bishop mounted the first step of the ladder, and his head was seen above the crowd, a great shout and groans burst from all the spectators.
Then the minister Challoner, furious at the cries of pity raised by the people, said to the bishop: ‘Why delude ye the ignorant people? Why end ye your life with a lie, and a vain boast of martyrdom? Tell the multitude that ye are traitors, and that it is for treason and not for religion ye suffer.’ To these unjust words the bishop answered: ‘Far be it from us, who are about to appear before the tribunal of Christ, to impose upon the people. But also far be it from us to confess ourselves guilty of crimes of which our conscience tells us we are innocent. Nor yet do we vainly ambition the title of martyrs, though for us to die for Christ is gain. You know that you are yourself guilty of that prevarication of which you accuse us, for but a few hours ago, sent as you said by the viceroy, you offered us life and freedom if we would subscribe to your heresy. Leave us, then, son of darkness, and calumniate not our innocence.’
“Then the minister departed and left the martyrs in peace. As they mounted the middle of the ladder, again there rose the cry of the people; and a third time, when he was about to be thrown off, the groans of those who beat their breasts rose louder than before. Thrice he prayed, as he stood there: once for all the bystanders; secondly, for the city of Dublin, and all the Catholics of this kingdom, that they may serve God piously, faithfully, and perseveringly; a third time he prayed for all heretics, and for his persecutors, that they might be converted from the evil of their ways.
“The bishop’s head was hardly cut off when an Irishman seized it, and, rushing into the centre of the crowd, was never found, although the viceroy offered a reward of forty pounds of silver. The Catholics gathered up his blood, and contended for his garments, despite the resistance of the soldiery. The priest Patrick followed the same road, singing, as he mounted the ladder, the canticle of Simeon, ‘Now, O Lord I dismiss thy servant in peace,' and, after the example of the bishop, he prayed for the bystanders, blessed them, and forgave all his enemies. The rope being put round his neck, he hung for a short time, was then cut down half-alive, mutilated, and cut in pieces. The soldiers, warned by the loss of the bishop's head, resisted the unarmed crowd, who strove to catch the martyr's blood and other relics, and wounded many. The day after, the bodies were buried at the gallows’ foot, but in the stillness of the night were removed by the Catholics to a chapel." 
We cannot enter on the other sufferers of this reign whose records are carefully collected in the Memorials.

The reign of Charles I. opens with the deeply interesting life of Francis Slingsby, showing how, even amid all the terrible persecutions of the church, God called his own elect to his truth, and endowed them with firmness. He was a son of Sir Francis Slingsby, an English knight settled in Ireland, and was born in 1611. After being educated at Oxford, he travelled on the continent, and at Rome was converted to the faith; and at the tomb of St.Aloysius, firmly resolved to enter the Society of Jesus. At the earnest entreaty of his father and mother, he returned to Ireland; but after an interview with Archbishop Usher and Lord Strafford, he was thrown into prison. Cardinal Barberini exerted his influence with the queen of England, and in May, 1635, he was admitted to bail. His stay in Ireland was not fruitless; for he converted his mother, his younger brother, his sister and several others. This increased his dangers and the General of the Society urging him to come at once to Rome, he proceeded thither in 1636; but learning that his friend Spreul, whom he had converted, and won to the order he himself had chosen, had been struck down by disease, he returned to Ireland, tended him in his illness, and then both reached Rome in 1639. Renouncing all his worldly prospects in favor of his brother, he began his studies, and, after his ordination, entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus in 1641; but died at Naples before he could return to Ireland to labor in the field where his words, example, and fetters had preached so eloquently. The sketch of this heroic young man, and that of Maurice Eustace, son of Sir John Eustace, and a novice in the Society of Jesus, who, returning to his family by permission of his superiors, was seized, tried, hung, drawn, and quartered, on the 9th of June, 1588, form a most interesting addition to our biographies, and show us in Ireland two young imitators of St. Aloysius and St. Stanislaus, whose virtues and example can be held up to the young with the power that flows from the fact that they lived among scenes and trials so familiar to us.

When the civil war began between the Puritans and Charles I., the persecution, bitter already under the king, became fiendish under the Parliament. Hitherto some form, some limit, had been observed; but the Puritans revelled in blood with all the ferocity of tigers, and with as little scruple.
"The Parliament of England resolved, on the 24th of October, 1644, 'that no quarter shall be given to any Irishman, or to any papist born in Ireland' and their historian, Borlase, adds, ‘The orders of Parliament were excellently well executed.’ (Hist. of Rebellion p. 62.) Leland and Warner refer to the letters of the lords-justices for the fact that the soldiers 'slew all persons promiscuously, not sparing even the women.’ Cromwell declared on landing in Dublin that no mercy should be shown to the Irish, and that they should be dealt with as the Canaanites in Joshua's time. It is impossible to estimate the number of Catholics slain in the ten years from 1642 to 1652. Three bishops and more than 300 priests were put to death for the faith.  Thousands of men, women and children were sold as slaves for the West Indies; Sir W. Petty mentions that six thousand boys and women were thus sold. (Political Anatomy of Ireland, p.187.) A letter written in 1656, quoted by Lingard, puts the number at 60,000; as late as 1666 there were 12,000 Irish slaves scattered among the West Indian Islands. (Letter of Rev. J. Grace, written in 1669, ap. Moran, p.147. 40,000 Irish Catholics fled to the continent, and 20,000 took refuge in the Hebrides and other Scottish islands. (Moran, p.99.) In a word, as Sir W. Petty writes, the population of Ireland in 1641 was 1,466,000, of whom Catholics were about 1,240,000; in 1659, the whole population was only 500,091, of whom Irish were only 420,000, so that very nearly or quite one million must have perished. (Sir W. Petty, Polit. Anat., p.13, ap. Moran, and Hardinge’s Census of 1659.)”

In this general and fearful slaughter of priest and people, records were impossible; and of many of the priests and religious who perished no trace remains. At the sight of such appalling massacres the mind shrinks back to seek refuge in doubt; but that doubt vanishes before the records of the butchers, who, reeking with slaughter, asked mankind to admire their work as a mercy of God, and even in our day, their descendants ask us to praise them as champions of religious freedom.

We can scarcely be accused of being too severe in our language when Merle d’Aubigné, a professed eulogist of Cromwell, admits that he used “a greater severity than had perhaps been exercised by the pagan leaders of antiquity.”

Although, necessarily, for many of their victims there are no details whatever, nevertheless nearly one-fourth of this whole work of Mr. O’Reilly is devoted to memorials of those who perished by the hands of the Puritans in the brief period of twenty years; and he might well close it by the formula at the end of each day in the Roman martyrology, Et alibi aliorum plurimorum Martyrdom et Confessorum, etc. - “And elsewhere of many other martyrs and confessors”, whose names, though unrecorded on earth, are written in the Book of Life. Cromwell, Breton, Inchiquin, and Coote marked their path in blood. Drogheda, Wexford, Cashel, Limerick, witnessed general massacres, where neither age nor sex could rouse a spark of human feeling in the insatiate butchers. The intense and cruel fanaticism seems to have been either a diabolical possession or a mental disease.

A grandson of Sir Charles Coote, become Earl of Bellomont, was some years after, made Governor of New York and of New England, and was strongly suspected of complicity in the piracies of Captain Kidd. He certainly showed the fierce anti-Catholic spirit of his father and grandsire, having introduced and forced through, both in New York and Massachusetts, laws to punish with imprisonment for life, or, on recapture, with death, any Catholic priest entering those colonies.

Among the more illustrious martyrs we notice the Most Rev. Malachy O’Queely, Archbishop of Tuam, who was overtaken at Clare, near Sligo, in 1645, by some Puritan cavalry. They hacked off his right arm, and then cruelly mangled his body, cutting it into small pieces. In 1650, Boetius Egan, Bishop of Ross, a holy Franciscan friar, appointed to that see in 1647, on the recommendation of the Nuncio., Rinuccini, left the retreat in which he had been hidden for months to visit some distant and abandoned parts of his diocese, although Ludlow’s Puritan bands were laying waste the country. After performing the apostolic duties that had called him forth, he was returning to his lonely hiding-place, when he was overtaken by a troop of horse hastening to join Cromwell in besieging Clonmel. The commander of this troop, Lord Broghill, whom our readers may not recognise as Robert Boyle, subsequently  Earl of Orrery, offered him life,

"if he would deny his faith and join the Parliamentarians, but he rejected the temptation with disdain. He was then abandoned to the soldiers' fury, and, his arms being first severed from his body, he was dragged along the ground to a neighbouring tree, being hanged from one of its branches by  the reins of his own horse, happily consummated his earthly course in November, 1650."
The fall of Limerick enabled Ireland to revel in the blood of Catholic priests. The martyrs were led by Terence Albert O'Brien, Bishop of Emly, born in Limerick in 1600, and nurtured piously by a devoted mother. At an early age he entered the order of St. Dominic, and, after pursuing his studies in Spain, returned to labour in his native city. In 1643, he became provincial of his order, and attended a general chapter at Rome. Four years afterward, he was consecrated Bishop of Emly, and laboured there earnestly till he joined the rest who took refuge in Limerick.
“Knowing the the fate that was reserved for him, Dr. O'Brien retired to the pest-house in order to devote the last hours of his life to the benefit of his suffering fellow-citizens, and to preparing himself for death. Here he was found by the officers sent to arrest him, and brought before Ireton who told him he was to be tried by a court-martial, and imprisoned till the sentence was pronounced. The bishop heard this unmoved, and when asked did he want counsel, calmly replied that all he required was his confessor. This boon was granted, and Father Hanrahan, a member of his own order  was suffered to pass the whole day and night of the 30th of October in his prison. On the following evening he was led out to execution, and, as Father Hanrahan related, walked as joyfully to the place as to a feast. His contemporary, De Marinis, relates his execution thus: ‘He went with joy to the place of execution, and then, with a serene countenance, turning to his Catholic friends, who stood in the crowd inconsolable and weeping, he said to them, “Hold firmly by your faith, and observe its precepts; murmur not against the arrangements of God's providence, and thus you will save your souls. Weep not at all for me, but rather pray that in this last trial of death I may, by firmness and constancy, attain my heavenly reward.” The head of the martyr was struck off and placed on a spike on the tower,' (‘which is on the middle of the bridge.’— A Rosario) 'and long after seemed to drop fresh blood, and uncorrupted and unchanged in aspect, flesh, or hair — a tribute, as may be thought, to that virginal purity which it is universally believed he preserved to the end.' Thus he went to his reward, on the vigil of All Saints', 1651. De Marinis and A Rosario relate that the holy bishop summoned Ireton to the judgment seat of God to answer for his crimes; and on the 18th day afterward that bloody persecutor was seized with the plague, and, after sixteen days, expired in great torments. Dr. Moran mentions that the spot where this holy bishop was martyred is yet pointed out and venerated by the Catholics of Limerick."
Another Dominican martyr of this scene, Father James Wolf,
“was an old man, and preacher-general, who had before been a long time in prison for the faith, and in this last persecution was as a wall against the enemies of the faith. He was taken in Limerick while offering the mass, and in a few hours afterward was sentenced to be hung, and brought out into the market square, where he made a public profession of his faith, and exhorted the Catholics to constancy in the religion of their ancestors, and that with so much ardor that it moved his very enemies. Standing on the top step of the ladder, and about to be swung off, he joyously exclaimed, 'We are made a spectacle to God and angels and men - of glory to God, of joy to angels, and of contempt to men’. Having said this, he was hung, and so went to his crown."
It is a strange fact, and one that we must regret, that England should owe the final conquest of Canada to one who should have honored this martyr of his family, but who was really intensely English, and rivalled Ireton by his bloody march up the St. Lawrence, butchering priests at their own church doors with as little compunction as Ireton felt for Father James Wolf. That martyr had a brother George, an officer in the Irish army. Although doomed, he managed to escape, and reaching England, finally settled in Yorkshire. His grandson Edward fought under Marlborough, and rose to the rank of general. His son, a namesake of the Limerick martyr, was General James Wolfe, who died in the arms of victory at Quebec, having struck the blow that seemed to crush for ever Catholicity in Canada.

Another bishop, Arthur Magennis, a Cistercian, Bishop of Down and Connor, was, in spite of his infirmities and years, dragged on shipboard, to be carried to some other land. Death was, however, the object of his tormentors, not exile; and, as he lingered too long to please their impatience, they dragged one of the ship's cannon beside his berth, and, firing it, caused such a shock to the invalid that he expired.

The clergy who suffered met death in every form. Some perished of starvation in the mountain, like the Rev. John Carolan; some were starved to death in prison, like the Dominican father, John O'Laighlin; some, tracked to their hiding-places, were shot in their caves, like the Franciscan father, Francis Sullivan; some were stoned to death, and flung into rivers, like the Dominican father, John Flaverty; many cut down by the roadside, or shot and hacked to pieces, like Stephen Pettit, the Dominican fathers, Peter Costello, Dominic Neagan, Lawrence O'Ferral; others more deliberately hanged on sea or land, like the Franciscan fathers, Fergal Ward, Denis Nelan, Rev. Peter Higgins, the Dominican Bonavcnture de Burgo, and many more; or drowned at sea, like the Trinitarian fathers O'Conor and Daly; or tied to stakes and shot like the Jesuit, Father Ball and his brother at Drogheda.
“Of the many thousands of Irish men, women, and children who were sold into slavery in the West Indies, the names of very few have been preserved. Among these was Father David Roche, Dominican. Full details of this infamous traffic are given by Prendergast, Cromwellian Settlement. Thus, a government order, published on March 4th, 1655, states that, in the four preceding years. 6400 Irish, men and women, boys and maidens, had been disposed of to the English slave- dealers. On the 14th September, 1653, two English merchants, named Selleck and Leader, signed a contract with the government commissioners, by which a supply was granted to them of 250 women and 300 men of the Irish nation, to be found within twenty miles of Cork, Youghal, Waterford, and Wexford. Roger Boyle, Lord Broghill, (afterward Earl of Orrery,) deemed it unnecessary to take such trouble in visiting different parts of the kingdom and undertook to supply the whole number from the county of Cork alone; hence he received an order empowering him to search for and seize upon that number, ‘and no person, being once apprehended, was to be released but by special order in writing under the hand of Lord Broghill. In the month of November, 1655, all the Irish of the townland of Lackagh, county of Kildare,  were seized on by the agents of the government. They were only forty-one in number and of these four were hanged by sentence of court-martial; the remaining thirty-seven, including two priests, were handed over to Mr. Norton, a Bristol merchant, to be sold as bond-slaves to the sugar-planters at Barbadoes’. Again, on the 8th December, 1655, we find a letter from the commissioners to the Governor of Barbadoes, ‘advising  him of the approach of a ship with a cargo of proprietors, deprived of their lands and seized for not transplanting.’ They add that among them were three priests, and the commissioners particularly desire that these may be so employed that they may not return again where that sort of people are able to do so much mischief, having so great an influence over the popish Irish.”

Of their sufferings at sea our author gives no record; but Anderson, in his History of the Colonial Church, (ii. p.52-3,) describes, from a  petition to Parliament, the sufferings of English prisoners "crowded into close holds amid horses," "sold, on arriving, to the most inhuman persons," and treated worse than beasts; “sleeping in styes, worse than hogs in England, and many other ways made most miserable beyond expression of Christian imagination." And nothing in the annals of history will justify the supposition that the Irish fared better.

During long examinations of early records and manuscript matter relating to the colonies which formed the American Union, no allusion has met our eye relating to any of these priests sold as slaves in America by the Puritans. It is doubtful, therefore, whether any ever reached our shores. But it seems to us that researches will yet lead to some clue or trace in the West India Islands, that favorite mart for the Puritan slave-dealers, who sold alike there the Irish Catholic, or the Christian or Pagan Indian of New England. It is, however, a curious fact that the first victim of the witchcraft excitement in New England was one of the Irish slaves, a poor woman, who though able to repeat the Lord's Prayer in Latin and Irish, failed to pray in the to her unknown English tongue, was adjudged a witch, and put to death.

Of the Irish transported to St. Christopher's we find some account in the Jesuit Father Peter Pelleprat's Relation des Missions des Pères de la Compagnie de Jesus dans les Isles et dans la Terre Ferme de l’Amerique Miridionale, (Paris, 1655.) Part of  the island belonged to the French, and Father John Destriche (Stritch?) an Irish member of the Society, was sent in 1650, to the boundary. His long-forsaken countrymen flocked around, braving all dangers from their cruel task-masters; and he spent three months hearing confessions, baptizing, instructing, consoling and fortifying with the sacraments these poor exiles. He then, in the disguise of a merchant, visited Montserrat, which was, for a time, an independent Irish isle, and so laid down on maps, and where even the negroes spoke Irish. But, at this time of Puritan rule, the English had reduced them to slavery. Here he raised a little chapel in the depth of a forest, and the Irish every day, under pretext of cutting wood, made their way to the spot, and, after giving the day to religion, cut some wood to carry back.

Returning to St. Christopher's, he found the English renewing the persecution. One hundred and twenty-five of the most fervent Catholics were carried off and set ashore on the barren island of Crabs or Boriquen. Here some undoubtedly perished of starvation; a few reached St. Domingo, but, on the refusal of the Spaniards to receive them, managed to find transport to Tortugas, then in the hands of the French.

Father Destriche then collected all the Irish he could, and conveyed them to Gaudeloupe, making excursions from time to time to bring in others to swell this settlement; and visiting in disguise the various English islands.

No allusion is made to any priest among these exiles; but this father was not probably alone. Research in this field may yet enlarge the touching memorials which Mr. O'Reilly deserves so great credit for presenting to us.

The persecution may be said to close with the Puritan rule; Archbishop Plunkett, whose life is well and concisely given, having been a victim to the infamous fiction of plots in the reign of Charles II., and brought to the scaffold by the false testimony of men of his own country and faith.

The last of the martyred clergy was the Dominican Father Gerald Gibbon, sub-prior of Kilmallock, killed by some of William III.'s roving cavalry at Listuahill in the County of Kerry, in 1691.

Mr. O'Reilly has done an excellent work. The records of the lives and deaths of these illustrious men should be familiar to all their countrymen, not to excite feelings of hostility and vengeance against the descendants of the wrong-doers; for as in the case of Wolfe, the later generations fall away at times, and the priest we revere may trace his descent from a persecutor. But the lives of these martyrs remind us in these days of insidious prosperity, that we should struggle as manfully against the persecution of religious indifference as they did against the persecution of rack, and sword, and halter, and show that we deem the religion they died for, worthy of a life of love and sacrifice.
 'Ireland's Martyrs' in The Catholic World, Vol. VIII, (Oct, 1868-March, 1869) 838-852.

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