Tuesday 31 October 2023

A Higher Court



Many times in the course of history, says the Ave Maria, men have been forced to appeal from the injustice of man to the Judge of earth and heaven. When, in the year 1651, Ireton, Cromwell's representative, was besieging the city of Limerick, Terence O'Brien was Lord Bishop of Emly. "Exhort your people to surrender," was the message sent to the prelate by the general, "and I will give you forty thousand pounds sterling, and guarantee your safety besides." "I will do no such dastardly thing!" was the import of the message sent to Ireton in return.

The general then thought it better to change his tactics. He addressed himself to the besieged. "Send me the head of your pompous Bishop," he wrote, "and twenty of the men who voted against surrender, and I will spare Limerick." The citizens held a hurried meeting, and unanimously voted not to accept such humiliating and costly terms. They would stand or fall by their saintly Bishop and their beloved city. But no courage could hold out against the fanatical horde at their gates, and it was not long before Limerick was in the hands of a foe that knew no mercy. The first act of the Puritan commander was to order the immediate execution of Bishop O'Brien. But death had no terrors for that faithful servant of God; he heard his sentence without a shudder, then calmly remarked: "I summon Ireton, the archpersecutor, to appear in eight days to stand before the heavenly tribunal and answer for his cruel deeds." Eight days after that, terrible to relate, Ireton was dead. He had been stricken with the plague.

The Sacred Heart Review, Volume 8, Number 17, 17 September 1892.

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