Saturday 24 December 2022

The Most Important Christmas Custom

We conclude the series on how Mass in the Penal Era in Ireland was presented to an Irish-American audience at Christmas time with a final offering from the Boston-based newspaper The Sacred Heart Review. In 'The Most Important Christmas Custom' the writer examines why the Christmas Midnight Mass was of such importance to the people of Ireland and suggests that it was because people were forced to gather before dawn during the penal era. He then goes on to draw a parallel between Our Lady and Saint Joseph being forced to retire to 'a cavern in the rock' when there was no room at the inn and the Irish people being forced by the penal laws to retire to underground caverns to celebrate the Mass. Thus once again we see it suggested that despite the harsh physical conditions in which the Christmas Mass was celebrated in Ireland at this time, the spiritual quality of the worship was something special:



"Of the Christmas customs of Catholic Ireland in its glory," wrote O. B. M. in the Catholic Columbian, a few years ago, "we have not even the records nor the traditions. All was destroyed. We have but the English records of laws that proscribed them, that intended to destroy the faith itself, and whose authors vainly thought they had succeeded. 

"But the faith survived in Ireland and Christmas in its essence survived with it. The laws of the persecutor aimed at the destruction of all things Catholic; but it singled out for special proscription the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The Catholic religion was for the time banished, outlawed. The celebration of the Mass was especially penalised. For 276 years the Mass was proscribed and yet the Mass never ceased to be offered. The people retired to the hillsides, to the glens, and to underground caverns and there often before the dawn assembled around the altar whereon the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was offered. 

"In those years the Christmas Midnight Mass was, therefore, the great central observance; and it remains so to-day in Ireland as it does not in any other country. Some readers may remember the picture which Carleton in his 'Willy Reilly' draws of a Mass in the penal days celebrated in an underground cavern. How could a Christmas come nearer to the literal repetition of Bethlehem than a Midnight Mass in Ireland under such conditions? The central fact of Christmas is the presence of God the Saviour in the flesh. Here the people had Him present upon the altar. It was to a cavern in the rock that the Blessed Mother and Joseph retired, 'because there was no room for them in the Inn.' Here the Catholic people retired because they were hunted from the towns and even from the face of the earth but they had the Saviour present with them all, visible to the eyes of faith. The shepherds did not see the Godhead but believed the word that was given them from heaven and adored Him present on the Altar. 

"It is not strange, therefore, that in Ireland the early Mass on Christmas day is the great central fact of the celebration. Three hundred years during which it was their only consolation have trained the people to this. In the country districts it is now celebrated not at midnight but in the very early morning. But to the young, especially in this northern latitude, five o'clock on Dec. 25 is equivalent to midnight."

The Sacred Heart Review, Volume 54, Number 26, 11 December 1915.

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Friday 23 December 2022

Mass in the Penal Days

We turn away today from accounts in the popular religious press on the theme of Christmas Mass in Penal Era Ireland to a sermon given by Archbishop John Joseph Glennon (1862–1946), a native of County Westmeath who served as Archbishop of St. Louis from 1903 until his death in 1946. Below is an extract from a 1910 sermon he delivered in Saint Patrick's Church in Montreal during the Eucharistic Congress. Although the Archbishop is not directly addressing the specifically seasonal aspects of Mass at the Penal Rock, nevertheless he alludes to many of the features we associate with it, from the 'sad-visaged' priest to the necessity for lookouts and the potentially dire consequences of discovery. Indeed, it is because both celebrant and congregation are so intently focused on the most solemn part of the liturgy that the authorities are able to close in. I note too that like other commentators Archbishop Glennon favourably compares the natural outdoor setting of Mass in the Penal Days with anything a gilded cathedral had to offer:

Mass in the Penal Days
From Sermon of His Grace, Archbishop Glennon at Montreal.
September 10th, 1910 

Extract from Sermon delivered by His Grace, Archbishop Glennon, of St. Louis, in St. Patrick's Church, Montreal, on September 10th, 1910, during the Eucharistic Congress

"IT is not inopportune that in this Eucharistic Congress, this litany of nations in the praise of their King, that I should speak a word, that I should strike a chord, though it be in a minor key,  for the nation whose apostle is patron of this sacred edifice, and whose exiled sons have made possible its building. I would pass by the days of the schoolmen, and come to those latter days, namely the penal times in Ireland, the long weary years when the Catholic Church was persecuted, when a price was set on every 'Mass priest', when the churches were alienated, desecrated, burned; and the entire country pillaged and its people driven to the mountains or into the sea. And this dread visitation, unlike the storm that passes, unlike the plague that eats its lethal way, not for a season, but for over three hundred years, brooded over the land, its darkness lighted only by the ascending fires of burning homes, or the gleaming swords of the brutal soldiers. It is easy to serve in fair weather: the test of devotion comes when human life is the forfeit. The Irish people stood the test, their land to-day is hallowed by the ashes of a hundred thousand martyrs of the Blessed Sacrament, while the survivors, praying their 'De profundis' for the dead, cling still to the 'Mass priest', and their fealty tried by fire is all the truer to their King. 

It was during the burning days that the 'Mass priest', sad-visaged and hunted, gathered his flock out in the mountain fastness, or in the shaded valleys. Knowing that the enemy was near, outposts were set so as to guard the approach, and give the signal of threatening danger. The candles were lighted, the priest puts on the sacred vestments. It is not a scene to attract the eye of the worldling; there are no marble columns, no tabernacle of gold, no fretted roof, no dim visted aisle, no organ pealing, no glorious chant, no censer swinging. But for people such as these around, love crowns all, love transforms all. For them the censor swings, for, is there not the perfume of the wild flowers that bloom there, of purple heath, of fragment hawthorn; vistas, there are, too, just as nature made them in rich nature's temple, for down the valley are the dim aisles of the forest trees. And for a sacrificial chant, they have the song of birds, and the murmur of their own heart's love, the love of Irish hearts for their faith and their Lord; of all others on this earth that we know of, the tenderest, the truest, the best.

Yet little time have they now to think of those things. The Mass is commenced. The priest has invoked the mercy of God— 'Lord have mercy on us'; he prays for the living and the dead. He reaches the solemn act that brings the Saviour down to His poor people. With bowed heads and reverent, the people murmur words of welcome, satisfied that, though by all the world forgotten, yet will He not forget them.

But why the alarm? Alas, these moments absorbed in worship are taken advantage of; the enemy, the soldiers of the King, are around them. The cry, repeated in the long ago, is heard again, We have no king but Caesar.' 'Down with the Mass'— 'Death to the Mass priest'— it is the tragedy of Calvary again, only to the tragedy is added the desecration. The blood of the Saviour and his priest flow together, and the dying lips of the priest whisper their last words on earth, 'Go, the sacrifice is over.' Quite true it is that the penal days in Ireland have ended long ago, and if the memory of them remain, it is not in bitterness nor revenge. No, they are thinking now, not of their persecutors, but how best they may honor and serve in the days of their religious freedom the King they followed during the long night of their persecution. Now they will restore him to the churches they build, churches to take the place of their older temples, from which He has been driven, and they have been despoiled. They will cross the seas bearing the standard of their King."


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Thursday 22 December 2022

The Sweet Christmas Bells

We are staying with the Boston-based newspaper The Sacred Heart Review for yet another illustration of how the image of Mass at Christmas time in Penal Era Ireland was presented to a late nineteenth-century Irish-American audience. The paper's 'Our Irish Letter' column offered its readers a romantic and sentimental vision of the old country where Irish exceptionalism is reflected in the claim that 'nowhere is the festive season more religiously observed than in this Catholic isle' because no other country has suffered quite as much as we have in order to do so. The focus of this 1894 piece, 'The Sweet Christmas Bells', by M.J. Roche, is therefore not so much on the image of the Mass Rock but rather on the history of the persecution that lay behind it. The reader is invited not to weep the penal days but instead to hail the courage, endurance and determination on the part of the Irish people and their heroic priests which allowed the faith to survive. Most interestingly of all is that the article concludes with a roll-call of Irish clerical martyrs which the author imagines being read out 'at many an Irish fireside on Christmas night' recalling a time 'when the history of the Irish struggle was written in the best, the purest, the holiest blood of Ireland':


Christmas is again with us, and "Our Irish Letter" of today extends to its thousands of readers the compliments of the season — A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, with many joyous returns. No need to remind our readers that "Our Irish Letter" columns, week after week, year after year, occupy Old Ireland's corner of the Sacred Heart Review. Scarcely a noteworthy incident has transpired in the Old Land since "Our Irish Letter" made its initial bow to our readers that has not been recorded in its columns. It's aim has been to edify and instruct while it faithfully depicts the Irish news, and strives to infuse into the minds of its readers an ardent and undying love for the faith and land of St. Patrick. Ever ready to raise its voice in behalf of Old Grannuale it has never been found wanting to spring to the aid of any patriotic movement. It has done good and enduring work for the Home Rule cause, and that its services are recognized and appreciated may be judged from the fact that it is invariably one of the first to be called upon for assistance when any project for the advancement of the Irish cause is launched forth by the Irish patriots of Massachusetts. But it is not our purpose to dwell upon politics while the merry Christmas bells are ringing forth their glad message of 'Peace on earth and good will towards men.' Accordingly we shift a slide, and, lo, a wondrous transformation is effected and we find ourselves transported by some invisible power to the Old Sod of the Isle of Saints. 

What a happiness it is for us to be privileged to pass Christmas-tide in dear old Ireland, for nowhere is the festive season more religiously observed than in this Catholic isle. Despite the cruel and oppressive laws of tyrants enacted for centuries, religion flourishes there as vigorously today, thank God, as it did before the penal laws. The blood of our forefathers shed copiously in streams for the faith, the sacrifices they were ever ready and willing to make for the sake of religion, have borne good fruit. Ireland's history is the glorious story of heroic and saintly lives, it brings before us the deeds of her devoted and patriotic sons, and depicts the bright picture of her martyrs and confessors and her gifted students. It tells us how they kept alive in dark and dismal caverns and on the mountain tops the torches of science and sanctity. It points out to us the glorious deeds of the Irish priesthood and shows us what they suffered for love of their country and religion. It incites us to purity of life and nobility of action and teaches us to prize and cherish the holy faith handed down to us at the cost of toil and blood and tears. It also teaches us that — 

We must not weep the penal days 
That sanctified our hills and plains; 
We must not shudder when we gaze 
At men that feared not death nor chains; 
In blood and tears 'neath penal laws 
Saint Erin's heart was purified; 
For holy Faith and Freedom's cause, 
Our martyred nation grandly died. 
When peaceful bloomed our garden land 
The hermit and the monk arose 
And every vale heard virgin-band 
Sing love of God, at evening's close; 
But when our air with war was red, 
From cells and caves Truth's soldiers came 
And every rock a glory shed, 
Around some Irish martyr's name. 
We will not weep the penal days, the days of the ruin of the dear old convents of the Irish Franciscans and Dominicans, when the inmates were driven forth at the point of the sword and scattered like sheep over the land. We will not weep the penal days which sorely tried Ireland's faith and Ireland's religion. Five pounds was set as a price upon the head of the friar or priest —the same price that was set upon the head of a wolf. They were hunted throughout the land, and when they fled for their lives from their convent homes, the Irish people opened their hospitable doors and said, "Come to us, saggarth aroon." Scattered with no shelter but the canopy of heaven; with no Sunday sacrifice to remind the people of God; no Mass celebrated in public and no Gospel preached; and yet they succeeded for three hundred years in preserving the glorious Catholic faith. The venerable ruins of the Irish abbeys and monasteries tell to this day the tale of Ireland's woe, of Ireland's sorrow. The persecution of the Irish friar, the Irish monk, the Irish priest brought sorrow and affliction to everybody in Ireland. There were upwards of eighty convents of religious —Franciscans and Dominicans —in Ireland before the penal days, and about a thousand priests of each order. Henry began his persecution and was succeeded by his daughter Elizabeth and at the close of the latter's reign, how many of the thousand Dominicans were there left in Ireland, do you think? There were a thousand before and only four of them left— only four. And all the rest of these Irish friars had stained their white habits with their hearts' blood shed for God and for their country. It took Queen Bess twenty years to try to plant the seedling of Protestantism on Irish soil. The ground was dug as for a grave, the blood of the nation was poured in to warm the seed and bring it forth. It never grew; it never raised its tiny head above the soil, it never bloomed. Protestantism could not find root on Irish soil and Ireland was as Catholic the day that Bess breathed her last at Hampton Court, gnawing the flesh off her hands in despair, and blaspheming God — Ireland was as Catholic that day as she was the day Henry the Eighth vainly commanded her first to become Protestant. 

With Elizabeth's death came a little breathing time, and in fifty years there were 600 Irish Dominican priests in Ireland again. They studied in Spain, in France and in Italy. These were the youth, the children of Irish fathers and mothers, who cheerfully gave them up, although they knew almost to a certainty that they were giving them to a martyr's death; but they gave them up for God. Smuggled out of Ireland, they studied in these foreign lands; and they came back again by night, and by stealth, and they landed upon the shores of Ireland; and when Cromwell came he found six hundred Irish Dominicans upon the Irish land. Ten years after — only a decade of years had passed — and again the Dominican friars assembled to count their numbers, and to tell how many survived, and how many had fallen. Only one hundred and fifty were left out of the six hundred; four hundred and fifty had perished — had shed their blood for their country or had been shipped to the Barbadoes as slaves. These are the thoughts recurring to us as we tread the soil of holy Ireland at Christmastide. Small wonder then that the Irish people are so proud of their faith. Do not the very moss-grown stones of the Irish ruins speak of their noble martyrs? As we trudge o'er hills and fields to the midnight Mass on Christmas eve, the grey walls of the Dominican and Franciscan monasteries, glistening in the moonlight, remind us how the Irish people gave up everything they had for years and years, as wave after wave of persecution rolled over them, rather than renounce their glorious faith or their glorious priesthood.

At many an Irish fireside on Christmas night is told the story of Dominick Collins, the faithful son of St. Ignatius, taken by the heretics in the fort at Berehaven and hanged by order of the cruel Mountjoy at Cork; of Maurice Eustace, young, generous and brave, executed at Dublin on pretense of treason against Elizabeth; of Father James Boyton, slain by the followers of Inchiequin at the sieege of Cashel of the Kings, while he administered the Sacrament to the dying defenders of the Holy Rock — Collins, Eustace, Boyton — these and hundreds of others of their order remind us of what the Jesuits did and suffered for Ireland in the penal days. The fate of Thaddeus O'Connell recalls the heroism of the Augustinians; Mulcahy of Clonmel, O'Kelly of Connaught, Fitzpatrick of Ossory vividly recall the patriotism and self-sacrifice of the secular clergy. The members of religious orders and the secular clergy were faithful to Ireland and freely poured out their blood for the cause of religion and freedom, and the Irish people suffered and fought and died like true martyrs, but faithful above all were the noble prelates of the Irish Church. Bishop after bishop, archbishop after archbishop in all the sees of Ireland died gloriously for the faith and the liberty of the Church of St Patrick. And it is to this old Catholic land that "Our Irish Letter" is devoted, to this old Catholic land it has taken its readers in spirit to the midnight Mass in the Irish chapel, to the Irish firesides where the turf blazes so brightly, and the joyous greeting of "God save all here" is heard every time a new-comer crosses the threshold to listen to the glorious tales of Irish faith and patriotism when the history of the Irish struggle was written in the best, the purest, the holiest blood of Ireland. 

M. J. Roche.

The Sacred Heart Review, Volume 13, Number 5, 22 December 1894.

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Wednesday 21 December 2022

The Midnight Mass: A Christmas Incident of the Penal Days in Ireland

Yesterday we looked at the nineteenth-century lithograph 'A Christmas Mass in the Penal Days - The Alarm! containing all of the iconic elements of the people huddled together in the snow while the lookouts rush to warn the priest to flee from the approaching soldiers. Over the next few days we will look at some further examples of how this symbol of the Penal era appeared in the popular religious press, especially that aimed at Irish expatriate communities. We begin with a piece by the Irish-American poet Denis Aloysius McCarthy (1871-1931), who was based in Boston and a regular contributor to its Sacred Heart Review.  The Irish saints and martyrs were a favourite subject of McCarthy's poems, selections from which were often quoted by other writers in an age which enjoyed epic poetry.  In the article below, published in the December 25, 1897, edition of the Sacred Heart Review,  the writer begins with a poem telling of a hunted priest battling the winter wind and trying to evade the authorities to reach his lonely altar beneath the hill. Alas, in this case the warning to flee comes too late and the unfortunate soggarth will say the Midnight Mass no more. It is interesting to see that the poet suggests that despite the makeshift outdoor setting, the quality of the worship at the Mass Rock surpasses anything found at a cathedral. He then goes on to offer a sentimental reflection on what it is to be away from the old country at this time of the year. He seems keen to point out though that such nostalgia is not a denial of all the benefits which America has to offer and stresses the loyalty of the Irish to its banner of liberty. Indeed, McCarthy dedicated his 1906 anthology Voices from Erin 'To all who in their love for the new land have not forgotten the old':




With stealthy step across the wold 
The hunted soggarth swiftly goes; 
The winter wind is blowing cold 
And round him drives the winter snows; 
But little does he heed the wind, 
The blinding snow, the dark morass; 
With many an anxious glance behind 
He goes to say the midnight Mass! 
For hours, with many a devious turn. 
He's led the chase by moor and fen. 
He's seen the village tapers burn, 
But dare not seek the haunts of men, 
For close upon his track have pressed, 
(His holy Faith the only cause) 
With horrid oath and ruffian jest, 
The minions of the Penal Laws. 
And woe to him, should evil hap 
Into their hands the priest betray; 
The raven o'er his corse should flap 
Her sable wings before the day! 
But fainter now have grown their cries, 
Their shots more distant than before, 
And hopes within his heart arise 
That he has baffled them once more! 
Ah, vain the hope of baffled foes! — 
A few more crafty than the rest 
Still dog his steps as on he goes, 
Still keep the chase with eager zest; 
But, all unconscious, fares he still 
By tangled wood and torrent dread 
To where, beneath a lonely hill, 
The Mass in secret may be said. 
"Oh, failte! failtel" —round him throng 
The remnant of his scattered flock, 
And Mass with neither chant nor song
 Is offered from a fallen rock; 
And never at cathedral shrine 
Were purer spirits wrapt in prayer
Than those who worshiped the Divine 
Before that lonely altar there. 
But, hark! The rite is scarcely done 
When rings a cry upon the breeze; 
"Up, Father — for your life — and run!" 
The soggarth rises from his knees— 
Too late! One muttered prayer to God, — 
A volley shakes the mountain-pass,— 
The priest lies dead upon the sod 
He'll say no more the midnight Mass! 

At Christmas time all hearts turn homeward. The present is forgotten, the future ceases to allure, and the past is before us again in all its brightest lights and tenderest shadows. We forget the long, dreary years of separation, the vicissitudes of time, the strange scenes and faces with which we have become familiar during many a day of exile; and, once more, the old home, the family circle, unbroken yet by absence, the loving faces of parents and of brothers and sisters, are presented to our gaze; and few indeed are the hearts that do not beat faster, and few are the eyes that are not dimmed with tears at the memory of old times. 

To the Irish exile, particularly, this season of Christmas is one of remembrances that are composed of mingled joy and sorrow. For Christmas in Ireland, as in no other country, is a day sacred to family life and love. It would seem, indeed, as if upon that land, ever faithful to the Church through ages of persecution,the Holy Family had showered the richest spiritual blessings, for the affection that obtains in pious Irish households among the various members of the family is akin to that love which bound together the three principal actors in the great mysterious drama at Bethlehem. It is therefore only natural that the thoughts of the Irish exile turn back to the old scenes that he may never again see in reality, and to the old friends whose hands he may clasp again only In dreams and "tears of memory," shed at Christmas time over the past are evidence of the deep and holy feeling for home which God has implanted in the hearts of the Irish people. 

The new country, with all its broadening influences, with its atmosphere of freedom, and the possibilities of material advancement that it affords, is very dear to the sons of the Green Isle who have sought and found shelter from oppression and bitter poverty beneath its starry flag. They have increased and multiplied. Their blood courses in the veins of the best and bravest of the citizens of the great republic. In peace they have tilled the fertile lands, and reared upon the boundless prairies the homes that were denied them in the land of their birth; and in war they have been the to grapple with the foes of their adopted country, shedding their blood freely in defense of a banner that is to them the symbol of liberty for themselves, and hope for the old land over the water. 

But the hearts go backward across the leagues of the Atlantic and the years of absence, to their motherland at Christmas. They hear Mass again in the little chapel. They see the gray-haired priest at the altar. They listen to the Christmas hymn of the humble village choir, than which the grandest cathedral chorus is, to them, not more solemn and inspiring. And around them are the friends of their youth, unchanged. 

Of course it is only a dream. But who can say that this return to old times does not make the hearts of the exiles better and braver, bringing them, through home ties, more close to the Babe of Bethlehem, in Whose cause their fathers bore persecution unflinchingly, and strengthening them against the enemies of their race and creed, who would rob them of their love for faith and fatherland. 

D. A. McC.

The Sacred Heart Review, Volume 18, Number 26, 25 December 1897.

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Tuesday 20 December 2022

A Christmas Mass in the Penal Days


If there is one iconic image which can be said to encapsulate the Irish Catholic experience in the Penal era, then surely it must be that of the people gathering at a Mass Rock while lookouts keep watch for the authorities. The one above is called  'A Christmas Mass in the Penal Days - The Alarm! ' by Dublin cartoonist and illustrator John Dooley Reigh (1851-1914) and was first issued as a supplement to the December 20 issue of the newspaper United Ireland in 1884. [1] This late nineteenth-century lithograph has had a deep and long-lasting influence on the Irish Catholic imagination, and framed copies of it can still be found in Irish homes. In the article below, published almost thirty years later for an Irish-American audience, it is clear that the image has already resonated as a symbol of endurance and unbreakable commitment to their faith on the part of the Irish people.  Indeed, 'Midnight Mass in the Penal Days' became a staple among the articles in the popular religious press at this time of the year. One assumes that a picture of an open-air Mass on a balmy summer evening would not have achieved the same impact as this snow-covered setting.  The anonymous writer of the short piece in The Sacred Heart Review below certainly enters into the scene and almost imagines himself present as 'the bitter winter wind drives the cold sleet before it in stinging gusts' and 'the worshipers shiver in the rush of the pitiless blast'. Yet it is the willingness of the Irish people to endure these hardships in order to attend the Mass which is the reason why the faith survived and which leads the writer to conclude that there is a lesson here for us all:


When people begin to lose reverence for the Mass, they soon begin to lose their faith altogether. Be faithful to the Mass and the Blessed Sacrament, we repeat, and you will infallibly save your soul. If you are cold and distant and careless toward these essential things you are surely on the broad road that leads to destruction. Why was it that Ireland got the wondrous privilege of preserving the Faith through so many long and blood-stained centuries? asks the Catholic Register and Canadian Extension. It was because of the devotion of her people to the most holy sacrifice. It is a cold heart that does not thrill at the heroic apostolic piety and zeal suggested by the picture of the "Midnight Mass in the Penal Days." Under a protecting bush, in the shelter of a rock, or in a cave in the hillside, are gathered the faithful few. The bitter winter wind drives the cold sleet before it in stinging gusts. The priest is at the rude altar, which is nothing more than a rockhewn shelf. The worshipers, close about him, shiver in the rush of the pitiless blast. On the outer hills and peaks, occupying posts of observation, are the sentinels. They are listening for the tramp of armed men, and watching for the deadly glint of bayonets in the chill white moonlight. For the "priest hunter," with his murderous and blasphemous crew, is abroad, and only the mercy of God can protect his prey. The tinkle of a little bell is heard, and every head is bowed, while on the wings of the night is borne the whispered welcome of Him Who has come down into their midst to comfort them: "Cead mile failte!"— " A hundred thousands welcomes, O Christ, the Son of the Living God!" Never in the history of men did the world witness anything more touching, more devoted, more sublime, than the faith and love of the Irish peasant and his priest for the mystery of the most holy sacrifice of the Mass, that merited for Ireland her perseverance in the true faith; and it is devotion to the Mass and the Blessed Sacrament that will merit the same glorious and priceless gift for ourselves. Let us be wise in good time and take the lesson to heart.

The Sacred Heart Review, Volume 49, Number 21, 10 May 1913.

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 [1] M. O'Sullivan and L. Downey, 'Mass Rocks', Archaeology Ireland (Spring 2014), p.26

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Thursday 24 November 2022

The De Profundis and the Irish Martyrs

On November 15, 1960 a decision taken by the Irish bishops at the Synod of Maynooth held four years earlier came into effect. It abolished the recitation of the De Profundis (Psalm 129) after the Mass, a liturgical practice peculiar to Ireland. A report of the decision appeared in the American Catholic paper The Catholic Standard and Times the following month: 

Irish Bishops Abolish De Profundis at Mass

DUBLIN (NC). —A custom dating from Ireland's penal times of reciting the De Profundis for the dead after Mass has been discontinued by order of the Irish Bishops.  The custom is believed to have been introduced during the 17th-century persecution of the Church by Ireland’s English rulers. Its original purpose was to pray for the souls of those who died under the harsh anti-Catholic laws of that period. Recitation after Mass of the De Profundis, the 129th psalm, was peculiar to Ireland. The Bishops decided to abolish the custom in 1956 at the Synod of Maynooth. Decrees resulting from the synod were approved by the Holy See, and went into effect on November 15. Church authorities emphasized that the omission of the De Profundis after Mass does not imply that Catholics should pray less for the dead. The intention of the Bishops was to focus the thoughts of Catholics at Mass on its central idea as a sacrifice.

The Catholic Standard and Times, Volume 66, Number 13, 16 December 1960. 

To learn more of the history of this custom I turned to the work of Father Sylvester Malone (1822–1906), a prolific contributor to the Irish Ecclesiastical Record and other nineteenth-century journals. He traced the liturgical use of the De Profundis in one of his books on Irish Church history noting that, as part of the financial arrangements with the Crown in the medieval abbey of Saint Thomas in Dublin, 'the chapter house, over and above what it was bound to, by its order, was under an obligation of saying, especially on All Souls Day, a De Profundis for the souls of the king, his ancestors, the aldermen, and of the citizens of Dublin'. He goes on to say

And here it is worth while to inquire whence the origin of the De Profundis after Mass, and so peculiar to Ireland. Various reasons are assigned for its use;  but I consider it took its rise from a desire to compensate for the loss of the divine offices for departed benefactors. Prayers in the office were not confined to Ireland. Cardinal Bona assures us that when the number of benefactors became large in every well-regulated community, instead of calling out the names of all benefactors the chanting of the De Profundis, with a suitable prayer, had been substituted. There had been an obligation of making a commemoration in the offices for a stated period or for ever. Hence, on their interruption, that most touching of the prayers for the dead was substituted.  Not, indeed, that there had been a strict obligation to do so. Besides the psalm De Profundis touchingly expressed the helpless state in which the Irish Church was placed by penal laws, and continued a protest against the false religion of the so-called Reformers. What wonder, then, that this prayer, warranted by many reasons during the days of persecution, should continue to the present day after Mass, when we find it in use in the early and middle ages even in Ireland. The Irish Church, so tenacious of ancient customs—its chorepiscopi, acolytes, exorcists, readers, its liturgies—what little reason for marvel that it retained its De Profundis called for by charity if not justice.

Another reason why the psalm in question may be looked on as a commutation for the offices is that it is affected by the same causes, and almost in the same way as the offices. The De Profundis is not said, I believe, at least generally after High Mass or solemn Mass for the dead. Well, even when religious orders were bound by vow to say the psalm De Profundis daily, they were inhibited from doing so on All Souls Day, and on the day of the death and burial. And this happened even though there had been a bequest left for the purpose of saying a De Profundis daily. Again, the nuns of the Monastery of Chagas by a decision of July, 1741, were allowed to chant the Responsory for the dead unless on the most solemn festivals, and even on these to recite it privately in choir, lest the pious disposition of testators should be frustrated. Gardelini also informs us (n. 4687) that there had been an immemorial custom in the Church of Milan, of repeating the 129th psalm (De Profundis) with a suitable prayer after the divine offices for the souls in purgatory, especially those of all benefactors. All this leaves no reasonable doubt that the De Profundis was intended in charity or justice as a compensation for the divine offices interrupted by persecution.

Rev. Sylvester Malone, Church History of Ireland in Two Volumes, Vol. II, 3rd edition, (Dublin, 1880), 219-222.

Interestingly, in an obituary for his father who died in 1997, contemporary Irish composer Patrick Cassidy recorded that his father had suggested using the De Profundis as a final chorus in a work on the Famine which he was struggling to complete. He went on to say:

My father strongly suspected that the Irish pre-Vatican II practice of the celebrant saying the De Profundis after every Low Mass may have had its origins during the Famine. Further research revealed that the practice was, in fact, more ancient. After he and my mother, Kathleen, contacted Archdeacon Cathal McCarthy, they discovered that "the most likely" and "most popular hypothesis" is that the De Profundis "was meant to be part, or really token, of various endowment Masses which, because of the outlawing of the Mass under the Penal Laws could not be said with any assurance."

 It would seem therefore that although the origins of the practice of praying the De Profundis lay in the medieval obligation to honour those benefactors who had endowed religious foundations, it later became linked with the memory of all those who had died during the Penal era, when the Mass itself was placed under restriction and death had to be faced without the comfort of a priest to minister to the dying. In hindsight it is perhaps remarkable that this practice survived in Ireland right up to the middle of the twentieth century.


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Monday 7 November 2022

Companion in Martyrdom: Deacon Matthew Hoare, O.F.M.


On November 12, 1631, the body of Irish Franciscan Matthew Hoare was laid to rest in the friary church of the Bohemian Franciscan province at Votice. He had been martyred on November 7 along with his confrère and compatriot Father Patrick Fleming as they travelled with a small party of friars from the recently established Irish College at Prague. They were seeking to escape the besieging forces of the Elector of Saxony, but close to the village of Benešov encountered a group of hostile locals who attacked them, leaving Friars Fleming and Hoare dead. Father Fleming was one of the driving forces behind the project at the Franciscan Irish College at Louvain to research and publish the Lives of the Irish Saints. Much less well-known, however, is his companion in martyrdom, Matthew Hoare. Both men bear the surnames of prominent Old English families; Fleming was related to the Barons of Slane, County Meath and the Hoare family was an important one in County Wexford. Scholar of Irish surnames, Edward Mac Lysaght, records that the name is spelt both as Hoare and as Hoar, the latter spelling being found in particular in County Cork. Both spellings are used by different authors for our martyr and unfortunately I have not yet been able to establish when and where he was born. I presume that like Patrick Fleming, Matthew Hoare was sent away from Ireland in order to receive a Catholic education and then entered the Franciscan Order. He appears to have been a young man of some promise and was selected to be one of the small group who went under Fleming's leadership to establish an Irish Franciscan College at Prague.  Fortunately one of the survivors of the attack, Father Francis Magennis, left an account of both the early days of the new institution and of the sad fate that befell its founder and his companion.  He tells us that Matthew Hoare was a Deacon and was chosen as the preacher at the College's opening, which given the distinguished nature of the audience seems to confirm the abilities discerned by his superiors: 

It was on the 2nd of July, 1631, that the Franciscans were publicly inducted to their new establishment in Prague by Cardinal Harrach, Archbishop of Prague and Primate of Bohemia. His Eminence and all the other civil and ecclesiastical authorities of Prague being present, a discourse composed by Father Fleming was delivered with great earnestness and effect by a young Religious, in deacon's orders, named Matthew Hoar,*  who was destined in a few months to be the companion of Father Fleming in martyrdom.

*The writer adds, that Fr. Hoare was chosen on this occasion " ob eminentis ingenii judiciique acumen, felicis memoriae foecunditatem, dicendique gratiam, cum omnimoda morum honestate conjunctam, coram tot ac tantis Magnatibus fiducialiter declamandam eaque ab ipso adeo proeclare, venuste ac plane Angelice, omnium cum stupore, perorata, ut solemnitatem et auditorum devotionem mirum in modum adauxerit. "

 'Irish Historical Studies in the Seventeenth Century, III., Patrick Fleming, O.S.F.', Irish Ecclesiastical Record, Vol. VII, February, 1871, p. 209.

In his 1896 catalogue Our Martyrs, the then Postulator of the Cause, Father Denis Murphy S.J., also used the account of Father Magennis to testify to the martyrdom of Father Fleming and Deacon Hoare:

...The community consisted of six. As their house was very poor, they thought their poverty would be their best protection. But they were warned that their lives were not safe, as many of those among the enemy were infected with heresy. It was arranged that the Guardian and Matthew Hore, a deacon, F. Patrick Taaffe, and Francis Magennis, who was not yet in holy orders, should accompany the Count De Thun to some safer place. ...Early the next morning they set out. They were overtaken by two Servites, who asked them to accompany them in their carriage. F. Fleming refused, preferring to go on foot. Br. Hore, who was quite exhausted, joined them. ...

...As they were approaching the village of Benesave, in which F. Taaffe and Br. Magennis had passed the night, all of a sudden seven peasants rushed out of their house. Three of them fell on the Guardian to rob him. One of them with a blow laid him low; the others rushed to the chariot and attacked Br. Hore....

The Servites fled to the house of the Count De Thun, and told what had befallen their fellow-travellers. The Burgraf von Steinberg arrived soon after, bringing in his chariot the Guardian's dead body which he had met on the road. There were five wounds on his head, from which blood was issuing. The body was taken to the Franciscan Convent of Voticum, seven miles from Prague, and buried there with great honour...

...Soon after, a body of soldiers, commanded by Balthasar Barrady, came thither bringing the body of a Franciscan. He was soon recognized by the other monks. He had received a wound in the side; his heart had been pierced through by three bullets; his ears, too, were cut off. Our Fathers, Gerald Fitzgerald and Francis Welferston, took care to have the body buried, lest it might fall into the hands of the heretics. After some weeks, Count Suorby had Br Matthew's body transferred to Voticum, and buried in the Convent of the Franciscans, which he had founded, in the same tomb with F. Fleming, and took care to have the spot surrounded by an iron railing.

Rev. Denis Murphy, S.J., Our Martyrs, (Dublin, 1896), 263-264.

Two modern Czech scholars have noted the subsequent history of the martyrs' tomb:

The iron grill which Sezima, Count of Vrtba, had made for their tomb was in the course of time removed and replaced by a board with a Czech inscription, which was attached to the pulpit. After the improvement of the interior in 1758, an inscription with similar wording was painted on the wall. When the church was being painted white in 1776, it was damaged and was again renovated by order of the provincial.

Jan Pařez and Hedvika Kuchařová, The Irish Franciscans in Prague 1629-1786 (Prague, 2015), f.n. 59, p. 47.

I have tried unsuccessfully to ascertain if the tomb is still extant. 

Although, as we have seen, the case of Deacon Matthew Hoare was one of those featured by Father Murphy in Our Martyrs, his name was not among those submitted to Rome for official consideration and does not appear on the Official List of Irish Martyrs. 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 Friar Matthew was ever formally adopted or where it now stands. As with Father Fleming, I can only regret the tragic loss of his companion in martyrdom, another young man of drive and ability who was so cruelly denied the chance to serve his order and his college, thanks to the brutal death he met far from Ireland's shores.

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Monday 31 October 2022

How an Irish Bishop Died for Faith and Fatherland

The hanging of the Dominican Bishop of Emly, Terence Albert O'Brien, O.P. on October 31, 1657, following the siege of Limerick, is one of the cases of Irish martyrdom which left a lasting impression on subsequent generations. In part I am sure this was because of the details preserved by the martyrologists of the time, most notably Bishop O'Brien's prediction that his persecutor, the Puritan General Ireton (who was Oliver Cromwell's own son-in-law), would soon be standing before God's tribunal himself. When Ireton contracted the plague ten days later it was reported that he said he had wished he had 'never set eyes on that Bishop' and attempted to distance himself from any responsibility for the execution. As a further testimony to Bishop O'Brien's status as a martyr, which would have been understood at the time, it is also recorded that fresh blood continued to drip from his severed head which did not show any signs of decomposition. All of these details feature in the article below published in an Australian newspaper in 1905. A year earlier the Archbishop of Dublin had opened the official inquiry into the Irish martyrs, something which was of interest to expatriate Irish communities. This well-written piece on Bishop O'Brien is attributed to 'J.B.' who concludes with the verdict that "He was taken and hanged, because of the great things he had done for the Faith."

How an Irish Bishop Died for Faith and Fatherland

Terence Albert O'Brien, O.P., a scion of the Royal House of Munster, and Bishop of Emly, was taken and hanged because of the great things he had done for the Faith, on All Saints Eve, A.D. 1657.
He was staying in the City of Limerick when that city was besieged by Ireton, the son-in-law of Oliver Cromwell. He was offered a bribe of 40,000 gold crowns, and a pass to any place he pleased, if he would quit the city, and cease to urge the citizens to resistance, all which he refused, preferring to give help to the Catholic people up to his death.

When the city was taken on the 29th of October, the articles of capitulation exempted twenty-four persons from quarter. Dr. O'Brien was one of these, and being arrested, he was brought before Ireton, who ordered him to be tried by a court-martial. When asked did he want counsel, he calmly replied that he knew his doom and only wanted a 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 October with the Bishop in his cell.

 On the following day the finding of the Court was announced to him, as he lay stripped on a pallet; and the officer charged with this duty gave him to understand that the sentence was to be carried out on the instant. On hearing this, he got up to dress himself, but before he had time to do so, the Provost-Marshal's guard pinioned his arms, and thrust him out of the cell almost in a state of nudity. It was only natural that his fine sense of delicacy should resent this cruel insult, but finding that all remonstrances were even lost on the posse who surrounded him, he paused an instant as if to collect himself, and said in a solemn tone that "the time was not distant when Ireton should stand before God's tribunal to account for his bloody deeds."
It was a long way from the prison to the place of execution, and as the cortege proceeded, it was encountered at every step by sights the most appalling. For two days previously, Ireton's troops had been allowed to pillage and slay as they liked, and there was hardly a house that did not bear witness to their licentiousness. Windows shattered, doors wrenched from their hinges, corpses of men and women lying stark in the gutters, wares of every sort scattered and trodden under foot, showed that destructiveness had revelled to satiety. No living thing appeared along the route of that sad procession, and the universal stillness would have been unbroken were it not for the heavy tread of the doomed man's escort, and the ringing of their weapons as they clanked on the pavements.

The Bishop conducted himself with his accustomed firmness, and though distressed at being obliged to parade the deserted thoroughfares on that winter's evening in a state little short of absolute nakedness, his step was as steady and his bearing as erect as either could have been on that memorable day when he followed the trophies of Benburb to St. Mary's Cathedral.
On reaching the foot of the gibbet, he knelt and prayed till he was commanded to arise and mount the ladder. He obeyed, seized the rungs with vigorous grasp, and turned round as if anxious to ascertain whether any of the citizens had ventured abroad to witness his death scene. Having satisfied himself that a few of them were present, and within hearing, he exhorted them to continue true to the Faith of their fathers, and to hope for better days, when God would look with mercy on unhappy Ireland. To those who were weeping for him he said, "Do not shed tears on my account, but rather pray that in this last trial I may by firmness and constancy obtain heaven as my reward."

The persecutor, Ireton, to whom the Bishop had distinctly foretold that the vengeance of God would soon fall upon him, was struck down with the plague ten days after, and in his mad raving used to exclaim that the murder of the Bishop was the cause of his death; and turning his face to the wall, he used to mutter: "I never gave my vote for the death of the Bishop; it was the act of the Council of War. Would to God I had never set my eyes on that Bishop." Then, tortured by a guilty conscience, the wretch breathed forth his soul.
The martyr's head was fixed on a high pole on the top of the Castle. For a long time after, fresh blood dropped from it, and the skin and flesh were in no way changed.

He was a native of the city of Limerick, where his uncle, Maurice O'Brien, was Prior of the Dominican Convent. He himself later on succeeded to the same office. He went as Provincial to the General Chapter of the Order held in Rome in 1644, where, in acknowledgment of his services, he was made master of theology. He finished his studies in Spain, spending for that purpose eight years at Toledo. When the Chapter at which he was present in Rome had ended, he set out for Lisbon to visit the two convents of his Order in that city, one for Brothers, the other for Sisters. While at Lisbon, news reached him that he had been appointed Bishop of Emly by Pope Urban VIII.
From the Acts of the General Chapter of the Order of Preachers, held in 1656, we learn that in 1646 the number of Dominicans in Ireland was 600, that in 1656 the number was under 160 who were exiles from their native land, and that the others had been put to death at home, or had died a lingering death after their cruel banishment to the Barbadoes.

 Of forty-three convents which the Order possessed in 1645, not a single one remained in their hands ten years later. The fury of the persecuting heretics had either levelled them to the ground or turned them to profane uses.
Dr. O'Brien was consecrated Bishop of Emly, 1647. He found his new See in a most deplorable condition, for the country had been ravaged and . desolated by Lord Inchiquin and his brutal soldiery. As a member of the Confederation, Dr. O'Brien had zealously supported the Papal Nuncio, and approved of his excommunication of the abettors of the Ormond party. In 1650 the progress of the Cromwellian army compelled him to retire to Galway. He returned to Limerick just before its siege by Ireton in 1657.

Famine, and the treachery of Colonel Fennell combined, compelled a surrender of the city on the 29th of October. The articles of capitulation exempted twenty-four persons from quarter. Amongst those was the illustrious Bishop. "He was publicly hanged," says Clarendon, "without any formality of justice, and with all the reproaches imaginable." "He was taken and hanged," says the Bishop of Clonfert, writing from Innesbofin on the 31st August, 1651 [?], "because of the great things he had done for the Faith." Suffering in such a cause is glorious beyond measure and meritorious beyond reckoning. "Tribulation," says St. Paul, "worketh above measure exceedingly, an eternal weight of glory."   J. B.

How an Irish Bishop Died for Faith and Fatherland. (1905, January 28). Freeman's Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1850 - 1932), p. 40. Retrieved April 26, 2020, from

Thursday 6 October 2022

Translation of the Relics of Oliver Plunkett

Earlier this year we looked at an article by Sir Shane Leslie (1885-1971) on the trial of Saint Oliver Plunkett.  Below we have another of Sir Shane's articles, this time a 1920 report on the translation of the relics of the newly-beatified Oliver Plunkett to the Benedictines' Downside Abbey. Whilst in prison Saint Oliver had entrusted his bodily remains to an English Benedictine fellow-prisoner, Dom Maurus Corker.  He took them into exile in Germany where, following the dissolution of the English Benedictine foundation at Lamspringe, the body of Saint Oliver came to rest in Downside in 1883. At that time the remains of the Irish martyr were placed in a plain stone tomb. In 1920 they were translated to a much grander purpose-built shrine. Sir Shane paints a vivid and dramatic picture of the proceedings where although everything was carried out with great dignity and solemnity, nevertheless there seems to have been an undercurrent of tension, given that the relics of Ireland's most famous martyr were in the possession of the English. Leslie, a convert to both Catholicism and Irish nationalism, describes Saint Oliver as a 'holy hostage' and regrets that his body does not lie at Armagh. Saint Oliver was martyred at Tyburn and thus his cause fell under the jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical authorities in London, with jurisdiction only being transferred back to Ireland early in the twentieth century when our own church authorities were organizing the causes of the native martyrs. The English could point out that the head of Saint Oliver, an important relic on display for veneration, had been returned to his homeland, where its translation to a new shrine at Drogheda formed 'the greatest Catholic event of the year in Ireland' in 1921. It is also true that Saint Oliver himself had bequeathed his remains to the English Benedictine, Dom Maurus Corker and that their survival owed much to the courage of English laywoman Elizabeth Shelton and others. Yet perhaps it was inevitable that there was some resentment on this issue given that renewed interest in the Irish martyrs and the organisation of their causes took place against the backdrop of the national revival and the campaign for independence.  Indeed, it was reported that during the beatification of Oliver Plunkett in 1920 the English Archbishop Stanley had been invited to celebrate Mass but was replaced by an Italian following objections by the Irish bishops. Sadly, exactly one hundred years after the publication of Sir Shane Leslie's article the much-reduced community at Downside announced that it would move away from its impressive home. Although the famous school at Downside is unaffected by this decision, it does make me wonder if the time might now be right for Saint Oliver's bodily relics to come home to Ireland?





It is Downside in the once Catholic west-country, yet hemmed by the memory of Giastonbury, and the Abbey Tower is flying the flag of Gregorius Magnus for the first celebration of the translation of the Relics of the Blessed Oliver Plunkett, October the sixth, 1920. Few of the faithful found their way to the remote hamlet in Somersetshire to witness what none else in England to-day except themselves have witnessed, the actual translation of the body of a Saint from the mundane grave or sarcophagus to the Altars of the Church. Probably the last translation to take place on English soil was that of St. Thomas de Cantilupe, whose head is one of the treasures of Downside Abbey. But the long spell has been broken, and a Saint, albeit an Irishman, has been solemnly translated within the Realm of England. 


Cardinals and Bishops of England were present to do the Blessed Oliver honor, and Ireland seemed only represented by the weather, which wreathed the Abbey in sheets of rain, but during the High Mass and while the body of Oliver was being carried into the open air a gleam of sudden sunlight fell like a benediction from Heaven, making the yellow flag with the blood-cross of the Benedictines glow against the grey clouds like a flame of fire. Within the Abbey all was hush and expectation around the scaffolding leading to the highly poised shrine which has been built in the northern transept. It was an Irish Abbott, however, with forty years of choir behind him, who received the cardinals at the door. In black robe and train Cardinal Gasquet sang the High Mass in the presence of Cardinal Bourne, whose bright robes seemed terribly symbolic of the blood that England has shed. As the Cardinals sat back enthroned, the black monks, to whom the Martyr bequeathed his sacred body, raised the chant, whose, perfect modulation seemed at one time reminiscent of the Irish keening and at another of the proud triumph of Holy Church. With splendid emphasis the choir sang the great hymn of Peter and Paul, while to each stanza the whole of Downside School poured forth the chorus, 

O felix Roma, quae tantorum Principum
Es purpurata pretioso sanguine, 
Non laude tua sed ipsorum meritis 
Excellis omnem mundi pulchritudinem. 


Who can ever now forget that those words were sung at the enshrining of Oliver Plunket? The Mass concluded, three Abbots in glorious apparel lifted the many-colored but acephalous body of Oliver from the Gospel side of the high altar and, preceded by the Comrnunity in their dark cowls and the Bishops of Clifton and Plymouth in purples, carried it down the choir and by the south door into the open air, preceded again by Cardinal Gasquet in cope and mitre and followed by Cardinal Bourne, as it were the chief mourner behind that radiant bier. At a distance, joining in the litanies of the Saints, came the school and the laity, and when, for a wonderful moment, the sunlight streamed upon all (the colours it seemed like a harlequin minglement of funeral and carnival, for there was no sign of mourning save in the Benedictine habits, and the cantors and bearers wore dalmatics, blue and yellow and purple. And the red pall over the relics became as bright as blood.


Preceded by crucifix and smoking censer, the Relics were brought slowly home to the Abbey for the last time, and who but the Catholic Church would honor dead and mouldy bones with what would have been the mockery of color and ceremony if she were not divinely aware that the undaunted spirit they once housed has ascended to the Father? 


Slowly the Relics were brought to their appointed place, and then a strange and beautiful piece of pageantry was seen in the Abbey of St. Gregory the Great de Downside. Upon four high pillars in the northern transept had been set a finely gilded ark reached by ladder and scaffolding, and to this four monks in albs climbed up and let down ropes to the bearers. It was more than a symbol; it was a travesty of Tyburn played in mid-air. Were these four not the ghostly executioners who once stood and moved about a certain scaffold. Were those not the ropes of the gibbet, and was not that Tyburn running upward, or only pillars of stone? But that assuredly was the veritable body of the Martyr and eminent servant of God, Oliver Plunket, which was now a second time swinging between Heaven and earth. High above the chanting monks, above the sweet-toned choir, rose the holy body, caped in crimson and sealed with the seals of the Holy Church. But that crowd was no bloodthirsty mob, only monks and children, and these seated figures were the presiding Cardinals and not the evil and infamous Justices who condemned Oliver Plunket. After two centuries the Church re-enacted the event of his death at Tyburn, and of that brutal human crime seemed to show a divine parody. Upon no sledge of pain, but in a glorious shrine he was laid, and it was no knife that descended but a golden lid which was lowered by chains from the roof, and then it was seen that the scaffolding has only to fall away to reveal the Altars of God. 


The monks descended the ladder, leaving Oliver to the centuries and once more a canonised Archbishop to the veneration of the folk. The sacrilege of Canterbury was repaired, and the Church once despoiled of the body of Thomas of Canterbury has enshrined the body of Oliver of Armagh. With sad and appropriate words Cardinal Bourne marked the occasion, deploring the tragic conditions prevailing in Ireland, and appealing to the blessed one to pray for Ireland and for England too! Then, after the intonation of the "Te Deum" the Cardinals and monks withdrew, but with what fresh force sounded the "Te Martyrum candidatus exercitus" and like a living flash from the organ, for the lonely body of a Martyr was there! In good keeping lies the Blessed Oliver Plunket. Though Irishmen would like him to have echoed the prayer of Brian Boru, 'My soul to God, and my body to Armagh!' yet he bequeathed his body to those, who have had it in their keeping and with whom it will now likely rest till the Judgment Day. Like a holy hostage Ireland's martyr remains in England and behind the golden bars of his prison shrine awaits the day when the England which gave him over to a cruel death will return to the Faith for which his life was given. 

Already the long train of pilgrims has begun, and hardly was he enshrined than kneeling figures approached his mediation and candles began to flicker into flame like silent prayers. With exceeding joy the good monks sang Vespers, and late into night their Matins. Then there was silence in the Abbey. One by one the votive candles flickered out and the Martyr was left alone in his glory. 

"HISTORIC CEREMONY AT DOWNSIDE ABBEY." Freeman's Journal 9 December 1920.



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Tuesday 27 September 2022

An Irish Vincentian Martyr in the Seventeenth Century

September 27 is the feast of Saint Vincent de Paul (1581-1660), founder of the Congregation of the Mission. Before starting the research for this blog I was completely unaware that Saint Vincent was informed about the persecution of Catholics in Ireland during his lifetime, much less that a member of his own congregation was numbered among the Irish martyrs. In 1904 a paper on Brother Thaddeus Lye (Thady Lie, Lee) was published in The Irish Ecclesiastical Record, which brought this forgotten,  overlooked Vincentian martyr out of obscurity. Using contemporary sources including the letters of the Congregation's founder, Patrick Boyle, C.M., sets out an account of the sufferings of his confrère, making the point that Saint Vincent himself is the main witness to the fact of the martyrdom of Thaddeus Lye. Indeed, it is possible, even probable, that Saint Vincent had met the future martyr in person in the congregation's Paris seminary. Father Boyle suggests that the birthplace of Brother Thaddeus, given in  the sources as 'Toua' was Tuam, but it is perhaps more likely to have been Tuogh, County Limerick. Certainly his martyrdom took place against the backdrop of the Cromwellian siege of Limerick under the command of Cromwell's son-in-law General Henry Ireton in 1651. There was some confusion however, on whether Brother Thaddeus had met his end in the city or whether he had returned to his home, only to be cut to pieces in the sight of his mother:


IN a paper entitled 'Hibernia Vincentiana' the present writer gave an account of the labours of the Vincentians in Ireland during the life time of their founder. In the hour of her deepest affliction, the early Irish Vincentians had the privilege of labouring for Ireland, and of sharing her sufferings; and one of their number, Brother Thaddeus Lye, had the honour of suffering death at the hands of the enemies of the Catholic faith. [1]

The object of the present paper is to collect all that is known of the life and death of this servant of God, in the hope that as he was an associate in suffering of the Irish martyrs of the seventeenth century, he may also be their associate in the honours of which, it is hoped, the Church will at no distant date declare them worthy.


The details which have come down to us of the life and sufferings of Brother Lye (Lee), are scanty; but they are sufficient to show that he lived and died for God. The first mention of him is found in the Register of those who became members of the Congregation of the Mission, which is preserved at the Archives Nationales in Paris, and is quoted M.M. 519A and bears the following title:—

'Catalogue of the priests and clerics who have been received into the Congregation of the Mission since the commencement of its institution, and who lived therein more than two years, or who died in it before the end of the first two years, 1625-1764.' [2]

In this Register we find under the year 1643, the following entry: 'Thady Lie, aged 20 years, a native of Toua (Tuam?) in Ireland, received in Paris, 21st October, 1643, made the vows 7th October, 1645.' [3]

From this entry it is evident that Thady Lye was a cleric, though he is sometimes spoken of as a Brother, according to a usage in religious communities which gives that title even to ecclesiastics who are not in priests' orders.

Moreover, in the same register there is a separate catalogue of all the lay brothers who entered the community for the whole of the same period and the name Lye is not found amongst them. In all probability Brother Lye, like so many others of his countrymen, had come to Paris to study for the priesthood; and had there become acquainted with St. Vincent de Paul, [4] who at this time, in conjunction with Dr. Kirwan, was interesting himself in the welfare of the Irish ecclesiastics resident in the French capital. Anyhow his age, and his oblation of himself to God is evidence that ' his heart was in that which is good in the days of his youth.' [5]

Another reference which can hardly apply to anyone but Brother Lye is found in a letter of St. Vincent de Paul, dated 15th October, 1646, and addressed to the Bishop of Limerick. [6] In that letter the saint announces to the bishop the departure of a body of missioners to Ireland. He writes — 
'My Lord: at last I have the pleasure of sending eight missioners to Ireland, one of them is French, the rest are Irish... [7] and a brother who is English. The first mentioned has been charged with the government of the company, according to the advice of the late Mr.Skyddie, [8] who before his death sent me word that this was the plan to adopt. The cleric will have as his duty to direct the singing.'
From other letters of St. Vincent written at this period, we learn that one of the lay brothers who accompanied the missioners, named Solomon Patriarche, was a native of the island of Jersey, and we may assume that he is the person described as English. This good brother suffered much from the privations and perils he underwent in Ireland, and in 1649 it was found necessary to send him back to France. In a letter dated 10th September, 1649, St. Vincent mentions him, and says: —
M. Duguin (Duggan) who was in Ireland is here for the last few days. He left, at St. Meen, Brother Patriarche who, though much better, is not quite recovered from his mental infirmity, on account of which M. Brin sent them to us. I am told this good brother, such as he is, is a source of great edification to the company, so cordial is he, and so obliging, active, and devoted to God [9].
The cleric, therefore, must have been Brother Lye, who was not in priests' orders, probably because in 1646 he was still under age, and probably also because he had not a patrimonial title, and the community had not yet obtained the privilege of ordaining its subjects titulo Mensae Communis. But whatever be the explanation, the fact that it was his duty to direct the singing is not without interest in these days of musical reform; for it seems to indicate that congregational singing was not unknown in Ireland in the seventeenth century.

The third reference we find to Brother Lye is found in a letter of St. Vincent, dated 22nd March, 1652, and addressed to Mr. Lambert, superior of a house of the Congregation in Warsaw. Having treated of matters personal to M. Lambert the saint continues: —
I add to this the news we have had of our confrères in Ireland, whom we supposed to be amongst those whom the English put to death at the capture of Limerick. But, thanks be to God, he has rescued them from their hands. This is certain as regards M. Barry, who has arrived at Nantes, and whom we are expecting here, and we have reason to hope the same is true of M. Brin, though we are not certain of it. They left Limerick together, along with five or six score priests and religious, all in disguise, and mingled with the soldiers of the city who quitted it on the day the enemy were to enter. Our men spent the night in preparing for death, because there was no quarter for ecclesiastics; but God did not permit them to be recognised as such. On leaving the city they separated not without great sorrow, going one in one direction and one in another. They thought it best to act in this way, so that if one perished the other at least might escape. M. Brin took the road to his native place with their good friend the Vicar-General of Cannes [sic]. [10] M. Barry went towards certain mountains which he names, where he met a charitable lady who received and lodged him for two months; at the end of which a vessel for France chanced to present itself, and he embarked without having had any news of M. Brin since they separated. He thinks, however, that it will be no easy matter for him to cross over to France, both because the English hold the sea, and because they occupy the district of which he is a native; hence he has much need of our prayers.

P.S. — Poor Brother Lye being in his native place fell into the hands of the enemy, who dashed out his brains, and cut off his feet and hands before the eyes of his mother. [11]
The foregoing letter is based no doubt on information forwarded by Father Barry, who had just arrived from Ireland. It does not mention the date nor the precise place where Brother Lye suffered. [12] But from the Register above mentioned we know that his native place was Toua (Tuam ?). It seems probable that he escaped from Limerick when the siege was raised, and took refuge with his parents. There he fell into the hands of the Cromwellians, no doubt before the end of 1651 and like the Machabees of old he was put to death before his mother's eyes. There could be no other motive for treating him with such barbarity but the fact that he was an ecclesiastic. The cruelty with which he was treated bears a certain resemblance to that which was exercised on the saintly Archbishop of Tuam, Malachy Queely, [13] whose body was hacked to pieces by the soldiers. Both suffered in different years, but for the same cause, and in the same manner. Both, we may remark, were students in Paris. Let us hope that both will find a place on the list of the Irish martyrs who laboured and suffered so gloriously for the faith in the seventeenth century.

The fact of the martyrdom of Thady Lye comes down to us, then, on the authority of St. Vincent de Paul; and if we do not possess more ample details concerning him, it is probably to be attributed to the humility of St. Vincent. When the mission to Ireland had come to a close the superior of it desired to publish an account of the labours of the missioners and the fruits produced by them; but St. Vincent dissuaded him: 'It is enough,' he said, 'that God knows all that has been done, the humility of our Lord requires of the little company to remain hidden in God with Jesus Christ in honour of His hidden life. The blood of martyrs shall not be forgotten before God; and sooner or later it shall be the seed of new Christians.' [14] But though the humility of St. Vincent shrank from publishing to the world an account of the labours of his children in Ireland, and of the fruits produced by them, the martyrdom of Brother Lye was not forgotten. In the middle of the eighteenth century Father Peter Collet, so widely known for his theological works, published a life of St. Vincent de Paul. He employed great diligence in the preparation of that work.

He consulted not merely the life of the saint by Abelly, Bishop of Rodez, but he also examined all the documents on which Abelly's life was based; the letters of St. Vincent to the number of at least seven thousand, the letters written to the saint, the manuscript lives of the early companions of St. Vincent, and other documents, many of which have since been lost. [15] We may therefore regard Collet as not merely the echo of the testimony of St. Vincent, but also to some extent as an independent witness, since he must have had before him the documents regarding the mission to Ireland on which St. Vincent's own testimony is based. Speaking of the sufferings of the missioners on the occasion of the fall of Limerick, Collet writes as follows : —
Of the three missioners who had remained in Ireland only two returned to Paris, after having passed at Limerick through all the terrors of pestilence and war. The third finished his course there; the others disguised themselves and escaped as they could. One of them retired to his own country with the Grand-Vicar of Cashel. The other found in the mountains a pious woman who concealed him for two months. A brother who waited on them was less fortunate, or rather more so. The heretics having discovered his retreat massacred him under the eyes of his mother. They broke his head, after having cut off his feet and hands, an inhuman and barbarous punishment which served to show the priests what they might expect should they be caught. [16]
The testimony of St. Vincent and of Collet has been handed on by more recent historians. The Abbé Maynard in his life of St. Vincent, published in 1860, relates the martydom of Brother Lye in almost the same words as Collet. Later still, a little work of piety entitled the Petit Pré Spirituel de la Congregation de la Mission was compiled in 1880 by the late Father Chinchon, C.M. In it he recounts the sufferings and death of Brother Lye in almost the same terms as the writers just mentioned. He falls however into the error of regarding him as lay brother (frére coadjuteur), whereas it is clear from the catalogue of the members of the community that he was an ecclesiastic.

There exists, then, a constant and well authenticated tradition that Brother Thady Lye suffered death at the hands of heretics in odium fidei. The details which we possess concerning his life and death are meagre. But they are fuller than what we possess concerning many whom the Church honours as martyrs.

Of the four saints honoured under the title Quatuor Coronaii even the names were long unknown; of the martyr who embraced St. Felix on the way to the place of execution, and who suffered with him, the name has never been known, and the Church calls him Adauctus because he was added to St. Felix in his triumphant profession of the faith.

Nothing is known of St. Philomena but her name, which was inscribed on her sepulchre. The phial of blood, the emblem of martyrdom, discovered in her tomb is the only record of her life. The testimony of a canonized saint repeated by grave authors, and handed down to the present day, can hardly be of less weight in favour of one who may justly be regarded as having suffered for the faith.


Thus far we have endeavoured to collect authentic evidence regarding the life and death of Brother Lye. Let us now endeavour to see what light is thrown upon his career by the circumstances in which he was placed. St. Gregory Nazianzen, [17] in his sermon on the great St. Basil, says of him that such was his gravity, that ' he was a priest even before he was ordained a priest.' In like manner it may be said of Brother Lye that he was a martyr before he suffered martyrdom. He accompanied the missioners to Ireland and shared their privations and dangers. What those privations and dangers were may be gathered from various letters of St. Vincent de Paul. Writing to M. Portail on 14th February, 1647, he says: —
We have no news from Ireland, except old news, which reached us two days ago, and was dated September and November. M. Duchesne is suffering from a flux of blood since a month previous to his last letter, and our Brother Levacher, since his arrival in Ireland. The others, thanks be to God, are in good health. The miseries of the country arc great in every way; and the enemy surround the place where our men reside, so that when they go on missions they are in danger. I recommend them to your prayers.
In another letter dated 10th May, 1647, he again speaks of Ireland.
We have also [he writes] news from our gentlemen in Ireland. They tell me that the war and the poverty of the country are great obstacles in their way. Nevertheless, at a mission which they gave the concourse of people was so great that though there were five or six confessors, they were not enough to hear the confessions. For people from the neighbouring localities hastened to hear the Word of God; and some from a distance of nearly ten leagues waited four or five days to get to confession! I recommend them to the prayers of all the company.
In course of time the dangers became yet greater. St. Vincent recalled five of his missioners to France. Three priests remained and with them Brother Lye. At this time the army of Ireton was laying waste the country around Limerick, and the people fled for safety to the city.

At the request of the bishop a mission was given in the city, and about twenty thousand people approached the sacraments. Soon after a plague broke out and carried off about eight thousand persons. [18]
It was marvellous [writes Abelly] to see, not merely with what patience, but also with what peace and tranquillity of mind those poor people endured the pestilence. They declared that they died happy, because they were relieved of the burden of their sins, from which they had been delivered by the sacrament of Penance. Others said they did not regret to die, since God had sent the holy fathers (so they called the priests of the Mission) to cleanse their souls. Others again, in their sickness, asked nothing else but to have a share in the prayers of their confessors, to whom they declared they owed their salvation.
Another and a greater trial soon followed; Ireton laid siege to the city. For five months and fifteen days the city was beleagured. The enemy assaulted without, famine and pestilence raged within. Such at length was the dearth of provisions that, as we learn from a letter of St. Vincent, the head of a horse was sold for a crown. [19] Brother Lye was a spectator and a sharer of all these sufferings. As yet the hour of his martyrdom had not arrived.

But what St. Cyprian says of St. Cornelius, is true also of Brother Lye: 'Quantum ad devotionem ejus pertinet et timorem, passus est, quidquid pati potuit.' [20] In preparation of heart, and the expectation of the sufferings with which he was threatened he suffered a species of martyrdom. May we not say of him, as St. Cyprian also says of St. Cornelius, even before he had suffered martyrdom : —
Nonne hic, fratres charissimi, summo virtutis et fidei testimonio praedicandus est, nonne inter gloriosos confessores et martyres deputandus est, qui tantum temporis sedit expectans corporis sui carnifices et tyranni ferocientes ultores; qui Cornelium adversus edicta feralia resistentem, et minas et cruciatus et tormenta, fidei vigore calcantem, vel gladio invaderent, vel quolibet inaudito genere poenarum viscera ejus et membra laniarent?

Does not he merit the highest eulogium for virtue and faith, does not he merit to be ranked with the confessors and martyrs of renown, who so long held out awaiting the executioners and ministers of the fierce tyrant, who were prepared to slay him with the sword, to crucify him, to burn, or mangle with unheard of torments, the vitals and the members of one who by the strength of his faith despised commands, threats, agonies and torments?
But Brother Lye was not alone in this noble disposition of mind in the midst of dangers. He had glorious examples of fortitude before his eyes. The Bishop of Limerick was within the walls sharing the dangers and sustaining the courage of his flock. When the city capitulated he, too, was doomed to death, but clothed in the disguise of a soldier's servant, bareheaded, his face besmeared and a pack upon his shoulders he made his escape and found refuge in Belgium. [21] Terence Albert O'Brien, the saintly Bishop of Emly, was there encouraging the inhabitants to hold out against the besiegers. He was specially excepted from quarter. Father Denis Hanrechan, O.P., himself present in Limerick at the time, tells with what courage and resignation the Bishop met his death on the eve of All Saints, 1651, and how his lifeless body, as it hung for three hours on the gibbet, was treated with barbarity by the soldiers, who made it swing to and fro, and beat it with their muskets, and then how the head of the Bishop was cut off and fixed on the bridge connecting the city with the suburbs. He tells, too, how Ireton, the chief author of so much cruelty, was stricken with the plague, and how in his sickness he frequently cried out that the Bishop was sentenced to death not by him, but by the Council. "I could have saved him," he repeated, "but this did not please my friends. Would that I had never seen that Papist Bishop." Racked by the reproaches of his conscience Ireton expired on 26th November, 1651. [22] But besides the Bishop of Emly there were others whose courage and whose fate serve to throw clearer light on the surroundings in which Brother Lye was placed. Just as Hanrechan, whose narrative is summarized by Lynch, is a contemporary witness of the sufferings of Bishop Terence Albert O'Brien, so Abelly, in his life of St. Vincent de Paul, is a contemporary witness of the virtues and sufferings of Sir Thomas Strich and his companions, who were put to death on the same occasion. The life of St. Vincent by Abelly, deficient though it is in literary finish and in chronological arrangement, is a work of great value for the documents it contains. [23] It was published in 1664, and is referred to by Lynch in his manuscript lives of the Bishops of Ireland.

When Abelly wrote, the missioners who had been in Ireland were still alive, and we may feel certain that in the account he gives of the events in Ireland, though the hand which writes is French, the voice which speaks is Irish. Abelly writes as follows of the fall of Limerick: —
That poor city was besieged and at length taken by the heretics. They cruelly put to death several of the inhabitants on account of the Catholic faith which they professed. This they did in particular to four of the principal inhabitants of the city, who testified on this occasion by their invincible zeal in defence of the Catholic religion, how much they had profited by the instructions and exhortations of the mission, and by the spiritual retreat they afterwards made in the house of the missionaries. This was the case in particular of Sir Thomas Strich, who at the close of his retreat, was elected mayor of the city. In that office he publicly declared his opposition to the enemies of the Church; and on receiving the keys of the city, he at once, by the advice of his confessor, placed them in the hands of a statue of the Blessed Virgin, begging of her to take the city under her protection. On this occasion he made the corporation of the city walk before him to the church, where that pious action was performed with due ceremony, and at its close the new mayor delivered a most Christian discourse, encouraging the whole assembly to inviolable fidelity to God, to the Church, and to the King; and he offered to sacrifice his own life for so just a cause. This offer was accepted by God, for when the city was taken soon after by the enemy, God gave him the grace to suffer martyrdom with three others of the principal citizens; who, having been the companions of his spiritual retreat, were also his companions in martyrdom. The four came forward to suffer, not only with constancy but also with joy; and in token of it, they dressed in their best clothes, and before their execution they delivered addresses which drew tears from all present, even from the heretics. They declared before heaven and earth that they died for professing and defending the Catholic religion; and their example greatly strengthened the rest of the Catholics to preserve their faith and to suffer all manner of tortures rather than fail in the allegiance they owed to God.
Such were the men whose example Brother Lye had before his eyes. He was the sharer of their perils, probably their attendant in their retreat, and like them he suffered death for the same cause as they.

The eloquent St. Gregory Nazianzen, in an admirable sermon, thus sums up the praise of the Machabees: ' The whole of Judea admired their constancy and rejoiced as though their crown were its own. For this contest was the greatest of any which that city had ever had to endure. Its object was whether the law should be overturned or glorified. Their contest was a crisis for the whole Hebrew race.' [24] So, too, was it in the case of Brother Lye, and the martyrs of Limerick. They were no less glorious than the Machabees. The undaunted Bishop of Emly, firm as Eleazer of old; Brother Lye, the youthful son, martyred under the eyes of his noble-hearted mother; Sir Thomas Strich and others of the laity, true and constant as the clergy, all combatted in the same cause. The faith of the whole Irish race was at stake, the whole Irish race admired their constancy and rejoiced at their victory.

It belongs to the divinely established authority of the Church to pronounce upon the merits of these heroic men. Should that supreme authority decree to them the honours of the altar, the whole Irish race will look on their honour as its own, and with gratitude to God will 'praise the men of renown ' to whose heroic constancy the preservation of the faith in Ireland is due.

Patrick Boyle, C.M.

The Irish Ecclesiastical Record, 4th series, Vol XVI, (1904), 307-319.


[1] I.E.Record, October, 1903

[2] Catalogue des Prestres et clercs qui ont ésté reçeus en la Congregation de la Mission depuis le commencement de son institution, et y ont veçu plus de deux ans, ou bien y sont morts devant la fin des deux premières années 1625 -1764.' Arch. Nationales M.M. 519 A. The continuation of the Catalogue from 1764 to 1790 is quoted M.M. 519 B .

[3] ' Thadée Lie, age de 20 ans, natif de Toua en Hibernie; reçu a Paris le 21 Octobre, 1643, a fait les voeux le 7 Octobre, 1643’. The name is written Lie in the Register. In the printed text of Collet and of St.Vincent's letters we find Lye.

[4] Hib. Vincentiana, I. E. Record, p. 300, October, 1903.

[5] Eccles. xi. 9.

[6] Lettres de St. Vincent de Paul, vol. i., p. 578.

[7] A portion of the original letter has been torn away.

[8] John Skyddie, a native of Cork, received in Paris, 9th October, 1638; ordained priest 1640.

[9] Lettres de St. Vincent de Paul. vol. ii., p. 179

[10] Cashel

[11] 'Le pauvre frère Lye, étant en son pays, est tombe en mains des ennemis, qui lui ont écrasé la tête et coupé les pieds et les mains en la presence de sa mère'.

[12] Lettres de St. Vincent de Paul, vol. ii., pp. 400,401.

[13] Dr. Malachy Queely, to whom reference is made above, and whose name is also on the list of Irish martyrs, made his studies in Paris. Whether during his studies in Philosophy he resided in the Irish College in that city, supported then by the Baron de L'Escalopier, is not clear: but that he was a friend and patron of the College is manifest from a letter addressed on its behalf to the University of Paris, dated 1624, and signed by Dr. Queely and four other Irish Prelates. In 1617, as appears from the MS Register of the German Nation in the University, Queely was Professor of Philosophy in the College of fioncour and Proctor of the German Nation, the latter office be also held in 1620 and in 1622. From the History of the College of Navarre, one of the colleges of the Paris University, by the celebrated Launoi, we learn that Malachy Queely made his theological studies in that famous college. In a list of the students of the College Launoi gives his name as a theologian in 1618, and again as master in Theology in 1622.

The life of Dr. Queely is well known in Ireland; but there is a sketch of his career given by Launoi in the work just mentioned, which is hardly accessible in Ireland, and which may be of interest at the present time, the more so as it is probably the earliest printed record of his career. We translate from the original Latin : —

' Malachy Queely, an Irishman, of respectable and noble family, desiring to obtain the degree of Master of Theology, procured, by a royal licence similar to that granted to Nicholas Maillard, admission to the theological college of Navarre. When he had obtained the object of his desire in 1622, he returned to bis native country, and the following year he was consecrated Archbishop of Tuam, and Metropolitan of the Province of Connaught. His personal merit, his reputation for learning and the nobiity of his family, which was held in high esteem by the Catholics, obtained for him that honour. It is incredible with what care and diligence he practised all the virtues which St. Paul requires in a bishop. Amongst them were pre-eminent his charity and hospitality, so that every one admired the variety of ways in which he practised those two virtues. He visited his diocese attentively and diligently; nor did he ordain anyone a priest until he had made a strict inquiry as to his life, morals, and learning. He could not endure idle priests; and it was his wish that every priest should have an ecclesiastical office. At the period when the Cromwellian party prevailed, the Confederate Catholics desired that he should govern the Province, and he governed it in subjection to the King, mindful of the words of Christ: "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesars." In the year 1644, as he was going through his diocese, he fell into the hands of a party of Scotch Cromwellians, by whom he was slain in the month of November. The Catholics honour him as a martyr, and flock from all quarters to venerate his tomb. They receive solace and aid, and pay honour to his relics.'

Such is Launoi's account of this great Irish bishop. As it was published in 1667 it is contemporary evidence, and all the more valuable as coming from the pen of one, who, from the severity with which he criticised the legends of saints, was called the denicheur des saints.

Joannis Launoii, Constantiensis, Parisiensis Theologi, Regit Navarrae.

Gymasii Historia. Paris, MDCLXVII. Ch. 89, pp. 1053-54.

[14] Abelly, Vie de St. Vincent de Paul, Book ii., chap. i. f sec. 8.

[15] Collet, Preface to the Life of St. Vincent .

[16] Collet, Vie de St. Vincent de Paul, 1st Edition, 1748, vol. ii, p. 471 (English Edition, Dublin, 1846. p. 311).

[17] St. Greg. Nazian., Sermon on St. Basil.

[18] Abelly, Vie de St. Vincent de Paul.

[19]Letter dated 23rd March, 1652, mentioned by Collet, but now lost.

[20] St. Cyprian, Epistola ad Antonianum de Cornelio, ac Novatiano.

[21] Lynch MS., ' De Praesulibus Hiberniae, Mazarin copy, p. 714

[22] Lynch MS., p. 680

[23] La Vie du Venerable serviteur de Dieu, Vincent de Paul, par Messire Louis Abelly, Eveque de Rodez. Paris, 1664, Book ii., chap, i., sec. 8.

[24] St. Gregory Nazianzen, Homily on the Machabees.

Note: The name of Brother Thaddeus Lye does not appear on the Official List of Irish Martyrs (1918).

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