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Title: Irish Ecclesiastical Record, Volume 1, July 1865
Author: - To be updated
Language: English
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*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Irish Ecclesiastical Record, Volume 1, July 1865" ***

                     The Irish Ecclesiastical Record

                                 Volume 1

                                July 1865


Judge Keogh And Catholic Doctrines.
The See Of Killaloe In The Sixteenth Century.
The Sacrament Of Penance In The Early Irish Church.
Richard Fitz-Ralph, Archbishop Of Armagh.
Purgatory Of St. Patrick In Lough Derg.
Liturgical Questions.
Notices Of Books.


We have read the address of Mr. Justice Keogh(1) with feelings of surprise
and sorrow. It is un-Catholic in its language, it is un-Catholic in its
spirit, it is un-Catholic in its principles. If it had come from a member
of a hostile sect, we could well afford to let it pass unnoticed; to let
it live its short life, and die a natural death. But when the calumnies,
the sneers, the sarcasms of our enemies are turned against us by one who
is enrolled under the banner of Catholic faith, we can no longer remain
silent in safety. The weapons which are powerless in the hands of a
declared enemy, are dangerous indeed when they are wielded by a traitor in
the camp.

Mr. Justice Keogh is no ordinary man. His mind is adorned with talents
well fitted to amuse, to delight, to instruct an audience. In his short
but brilliant career as an orator and a statesman, he won for himself a
great name at the bar and in the senate. And now he is lifted up above his
fellows, and placed in a position of high trust and extensive influence.
When such a man comes forward, with forethought and preparation, as one of
the instructors of the age, he is a conspicuous object of interest and
attraction. He is looked upon, by those who are not acquainted with his
antecedents, as the exponent of Catholic views, the representative of
Catholic intelligence and education. We are therefore compelled, in
self-defence, to declare that the opinions he has expressed are not the
opinions of the Catholic Church, and the language he has thought fit to
use cannot be regarded, by the Catholic people of Ireland, but as
offensive and insulting.

His lecture contains little originality of thought or novelty of argument.
It does but reflect the spirit of the age in which we live. The opinions
and the views which it sets forth have long been familiar to our ears:
they pervade the shallow current literature of England, of Germany, of
Italy, of France. Intellectual freedom, unbounded, unrestrained; freedom
of thought in the search after truth, without any regard to authority;
freedom of speech in the circulation of every view and opinion; freedom to
pull down old theories, freedom to build up new theories; freedom to roam
at large without any guide over the vast fields of speculation, adopting
that which private judgment commends, rejecting that which human reason
disapproves; these are the popular dogmas of the present day; and these
are the topics which Mr. Justice Keogh proposes to illustrate and to
enforce by the life and writings of our great English poet.

Now, we are not the enemies of freedom. The Catholic Church is not the
enemy of freedom. But we should expect that one who comes forward to
enlighten the world on this important subject, would tell us _how far_
human reason is to be left without restraint in the search after truth. It
is easy to talk of intolerance, persecution, narrow-minded bigotry; but
these words have no meaning unless we first clearly understand what that
freedom is—in thought, in word, in action—which is the natural right of
all men; which it is intolerance to deny, which it is tyranny to
extinguish. First of all, if the fact of a Divine Revelation be once
admitted, it is clear that human reason is not exempt from _all
restraint_: it must be controlled at least by the Word of God. We are
surely bound to believe what God has taught: and when reason would lead us
to conclusions contrary to His teaching, as may sometimes happen, we are
bound to check our reason and to abandon those conclusions. For, reason
_may_ be deceived, but God can _not_. This is what we understand by the
words of St. Paul when he speaks of “bringing into captivity every
understanding unto the obedience of Christ”—II. _Cor._, x. 5.

With this preliminary remark we shall now submit to our readers the
opinions of Mr. Justice Keogh:—

    “Could words of mine prevail to induce you to devote a small
    portion of your leisure hours, stolen though it be from the
    pleasure paths of sensational or periodical literature, to those
    great productions of John Milton, in which the staunchest friend
    of freedom and of truth that ever lived has made the most
    successful war against tyranny and falsehood—in which he has
    proclaimed in tones not unworthy of the Apostle of the
    Gentiles,(2) that education really free is the only source of
    political and individual liberty, the only true safeguard of
    states and bulwark of their renown—in which he has for ever
    ‘justified the ways of God to man’, by asserting the right of all
    men to exercise unrestrained their intellectual faculties upon all
    the gifts of God—to determine for themselves what is truth and
    what is falsehood—to circulate their thoughts from one to another,
    from land to land, from tribe to tribe, from nation to nation,
    free as ‘the winds that from four quarters blow’—to raise their
    thoughts and to pour forth their words above the level of vulgar
    superstition, unrestricted by any illiberal or illiterate
    licenser—then you will find that he has risen, as mortal man never
    did before, to the height of greatest argument, and proclaimed in
    language which is affecting the fate of millions, even at this
    hour, on the banks of the Mississippi, and in the remote forests
    of the far west, that He who has made ’of one blood all nations of
    men to dwell on all the face of the earth, willeth not that men
    shall any longer hold in bondage as a property the bodies or the
    souls of men, but that all alike shall have, unobstructed by any
    ordinance, a free book, a free press, a free conscience’. If any
    words of mine shall tempt you to approach these considerations, to
    ponder upon them as they are to be found in the tractates of
    Milton, in a tranquil, in a large and comprehensive spirit, and
    when you have done so, to make their fit application not only at
    home but abroad, not only abroad but at home, then we shall not
    have met in vain in this assembly”.

We do not propose to offer any remarks on the subject of political
liberty. But the principles here enunciated are of universal application.
Milton waged the “successful war” of freedom not less in matters of
religion than in matters of state. And Mr. Justice Keogh adopts his
principles without any limitation. He asserts with Milton “the right of
all men to exercise _unrestrained their intellectual faculties upon all
the gifts of God_—to determine for themselves what is truth and what is
falsehood”. If we take these words literally as they stand, they are
inconsistent not with the Catholic religion only, but with every system of
Christianity that has ever existed. Luther, the great champion of
intellectual freedom, though he shook off the yoke of church authority,
set up in its stead the authority of the Bible. Even he was willing to
admit that the wanderings of the human mind should be restricted by the
teaching of the Word of God. It is clearly contrary to the common
principles of Christianity to assert that in metaphysics, in ethics, in
psychology, in any human science, the mind is at liberty to embrace
opinions incompatible with the truths which God has revealed. And if it be
not at liberty to do so, then it is not “unrestrained”.

It may be said, however, that the author of this address does not really
intend to assert what his words seem to convey. How then are we to guess
at his meaning? He insists upon “the right of all men to exercise
_unrestrained_ their intellectual faculties” in the pursuit of truth. If
he does not mean this, what _does_ he mean? If he does not wish to exclude
_all restraint_ on the “intellectual faculties” of men, what restraint is
he willing to admit? Upon this point there seem to be just two opinions
between which he has to choose: the one is the common doctrine of all
Catholics; the other is the fundamental principle of the Protestant
Church. Let us pause for a moment to examine these two systems.

According to Catholic faith, our Divine Lord has established in His Church
an infallible tribunal, to pronounce, in matters of religion, what is true
and what is false. Hence, it is never lawful, whether there be question of
religious belief or of human science, to adopt opinions at variance with
the teaching of this infallible tribunal. Here indeed is a check upon
intellectual freedom, but a check which must, of necessity, be admitted by
all who belong to the Catholic Church. And surely it is no great sacrifice
to submit our finite understanding, so frail and erring, to the authority
of God’s Word, explained by a tribunal which He has Himself established,
and to which He has promised His never-failing help.

Protestants, on the other hand, maintain the right of each one to
interpret for himself, according to the best of his private judgment, the
Revelation which God has given to man. The liberty of the human mind is
therefore unfettered by any human authority. In this all sects are agreed.
Some, indeed, believe that the Church has authority to teach, and some
reject this opinion; but all maintain that there is no obligation in
conscience to accept her teaching. She has not the gift of infallibility.
Just as individuals may fall into error, so too may the Church herself
fall into error. Her teaching may be true, or it may be false; each one is
to judge for himself. The only check upon the freedom of thought is the
Divine Message sent to us from on High, and recorded in the pages of Holy

We maintain, of course, that the Catholic system which we have just
explained is true, and the Protestant system false. If we were engaged in
controversy with a Protestant, it would be our duty at once to establish
and to defend our doctrine; to demonstrate that the Church of Christ is
infallible, and that the right of private judgment is contrary alike to
the teaching of Scripture and to the dictates of common sense. But in the
case before us, there is no call for proof: Mr. Justice Keogh is a
Catholic. It remains then only to examine if the language of his address
is not calculated to convey an opinion quite inconsistent with the faith
which he professes.

The question we wish to raise is simply this: “Does the address before us
admit that the human mind in the pursuit of truth should be restrained by
the authoritative definitions of the Catholic Church, or does it rather
exclude this restraint?” Now, in the first place, it is to be remembered
that this restriction of intellectual freedom is denied by all Protestants
in this country, and maintained by all Catholics. When a lecturer, then,
addressing a mixed audience, in a written discourse, tells them that “all
men have a right to exercise their intellectual faculties _unrestrained_”,
do not the circumstances of the case fix upon his words a Protestant
signification? Will not his hearers naturally say that he has chosen the
Protestant side of the controversy, and not the Catholic? Again, according
to the Protestant doctrine, each one is at liberty to construct a system
of religious belief for himself: according to the Catholic doctrine, every
one should accept the tenets of his faith on the authority of the Church.
Now we are told in the address, that all men have “_a right to determine
for themselves_ what is truth and what is falsehood”. Has this phraseology
a Catholic or a Protestant complexion? Lastly, the lecturer exhorts his
hearers to go themselves to the pages of Milton, there to learn the
doctrine of intellectual freedom. It will, therefore, naturally be
supposed, that the doctrine is defended by the lecturer in the same sense
in which it is defended by the poet. Now Milton denied again and again,
not in his writings only, but also by his acts, that the Church has any
right to interfere with the speculations of the human mind. It is evident,
therefore, that the language of Mr. Justice Keogh, whether considered in
itself, or understood by the light of the context, is incompatible with
the principles of the Catholic Religion.

Freedom of thought is not enough: freedom of speech is also an essential
dogma of the new philosophy. We are assured that all men have a right “to
circulate their thoughts from one to another, from land to land, from
tribe to tribe, from nation to nation, free as ‘the winds that from four
quarters blow’; to raise their thoughts, and to pour forth their words
above the level of vulgar superstition, unrestricted by any illiberal or
illiterate licenser”. Accordingly, amongst the various prose works of
Milton, there is one which our lecturer selects for especial commendation.
It is entitled: _Areopagitica, a Speech for the Liberty of Unlicensed
Printing_. This little tract is distinguished, no doubt, for its learning,
wit, and eloquence; but these high qualities are devoted to the defence of
opinions which we cannot accept. The book and its principles are thus
introduced to his audience by Mr. Justice Keogh:

    “If all the works he produced were cancelled and forgotten ... yet
    give one in hand, the treatise for the liberty of unlicensed
    printing, the _Areopagitica_, and I would boldly maintain, not
    only that he had satisfied every call which his country could make
    on the most devoted of her sons, but that he had vindicated their
    rights and sustained his own reputation in the greatest pen
    writing in the English language. He wished, as he tells us in this
    treatise, to deliver the press from the restraints with which it
    was incumbered, that the power of determining what ought to be
    published and what suppressed, might no longer be entrusted to
    captious lawyers or knavish priests, or even grave chancellors and
    venerable chief justices.... I shall give you, even at the risk of
    trying your patience, some extracts from this treatise; but first
    let me tell you, that it establishes in the clearest way, not only
    that Milton was the fast friend of toleration, but that the
    charges of being an enemy of all order and of all monarchy, so
    industriously made against him, are without foundation.... And
    then he gives expression to this noble sentiment, fit to be
    engraven in letters of gold. Let statesmen hear it, and tyrants,
    civil and ecclesiastical, dwell upon it: ‘Although I dispraise not
    the defence of just immunities, yet love my peace better, if that
    were all, give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue
    freely, according to conscience, above all liberties’. I cannot
    bring myself to hurry over this noble tract. I have read it over
    again and again; I read it years and years ago, and often since,
    and now again, for the purpose of addressing you; and the oftener
    I read it, the more I take it to my heart. If such be its effect
    upon me, as I fondly hope it may be upon many of you”, etc.

Notwithstanding this ardent and enthusiastic declaration, we yet think it
would be unfair to impute to the learned lecturer every casual expression
or even every deliberate opinion set forth in the speech he so much
admires. It is, however, clear that he adopts as his own at least the main
features of the doctrine enunciated, and the general character of the
argument by which it is defended. This doctrine may be explained in two
words: unbounded liberty, on the one hand, to publish and to circulate all
manner of opinions; unbounded liberty, on the other, to read all manner of
books. The State, it is contended, has no right to forbid, or to repress,
those publications which are dangerous to the welfare of society; neither
has the Church a right to forbid or to repress those publications which
are hostile to the spiritual interests of the faithful. These views we
believe to be false and pernicious both as regards the power of the State
and the power of the Church. It is, however, under the latter aspect alone
that we propose to consider the subject.

The pastors of the Church have received a divine command to guard the
integrity of faith and to watch over the purity of morals. Therefore have
they also received from God that authority which is necessary for the due
fulfilment of this high charge. And such is the authority to prohibit and,
as far as may be, to repress those publications of which the only tendency
is to introduce error and to disseminate vice. For it is impossible to
preserve truth incorrupt in a community, if error may be circulated
without restriction, dressed up in the delusive garb of sophistry; it is
impossible to preserve morals pure, if vice may be freely exhibited in the
most seductive and alluring forms. A great writer and a wise philosopher,
Samuel Johnson, even though a Protestant, had the vigour of mind to seize
this important principle, which he has expressed with a singular felicity
of diction and an epigrammatic power peculiarly his own: “If every
murmurer at government”, he says, “may diffuse discontent, there can be no
peace; and if every sceptic in theology may teach his follies, there can
be no religion”.(3)

We confess indeed that this is a question full of difficulty to members of
the Protestant Church. They believe that each one has a right to judge for
himself what is true and what is false: and it is not easy to see how this
right can be exercised, unless each one be free to examine every form of
belief, every variety of error. But we are at a loss to understand how a
Catholic should go astray on a subject so plain. From the earliest ages
the Catholic Church has ever claimed and exercised the right to condemn
and prohibit those books which are contrary to faith and dangerous to
morals. Now it would be an error in doctrine to suppose that the Catholic
Church could claim such a right if she had not received it from her Divine

If we pass from the doctrine of Milton to his arguments, we shall have
much greater reason to wonder how it should have come to pass that we are
asked, by a Catholic lecturer, to accept his views. He does not defend the
circulation of bad books as a necessary evil, which it is inexpedient or
impossible to check. On the contrary, he maintains it is a positive good,
which ought to be encouraged. According to his notion, the promiscuous
reading of bad books is the furnace in which our love for truth and virtue
is to be tried. There can be no merit in truth, he argues, for him who is
not acquainted with error; there can be no merit in virtue for him who is
not familiar with vice. These are sentiments so utterly repugnant to the
common instincts of our nature, that we could not believe they came from
our illustrious poet, if his own words did not bear witness against him:—

    “As, therefore, the state of man now is, what wisdom can there he
    to choose, what continence to forbear, without the knowledge of
    evil? He that can apprehend and consider vice with all her baits
    and seeming pleasures, and yet abstain, and yet distinguish, and
    yet prefer that which is truly better, he is the true wayfaring
    Christian. I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue,
    unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and seeks her
    adversary, but slinks out of the race, where that immortal garland
    is to be run for notwithstanding dust and heat. Assuredly we bring
    not innocence into the world; we bring impurity much rather: that
    which purifies us is trial, and trial is by what is contrary. That
    virtue, therefore, which is but a youngling in the contemplation
    of evil, and knows not the utmost that vice promises to her
    followers, and rejects it, is but a blank virtue, not a pure....
    Since therefore the knowledge and survey of vice is in this world
    so necessary to the constituting of human virtue, and the scanning
    of error to the confirmation of truth, how can we more safely and
    with less danger scout into the regions of sin and falsity, than
    by reading all manner of tractates, and hearing all manner of
    reason? And this is the benefit which may be had of books
    promiscuously read”.(4)

We shall offer no commentary on this passage. Principles like these carry
with them their own condemnation. And yet such are the principles advanced
in a tract, which has made so favourable an impression on Mr. Justice
Keogh, that the _oftener he reads it, the more he takes it to his heart_,
and which he _fondly hopes_ may make a like impression on the minds of his

When we are assured by Mr. Justice Keogh that Milton was “the fast friend
of toleration”, we can scarcely believe that he is serious. Lest, however,
our readers should be led astray, we shall briefly tell them what Milton
_really thought_ and _said_ on the subject of religious toleration.
Towards the close of his life, he wrote a very important treatise(5) in
which he discusses the question, and explains his views with his usual
clearness and force. He maintains in this treatise that all religious
sects are to be tolerated, with _one exception_; and that exception is the
_Roman Catholic Church_. Lutherans, Calvinists, Anabaptists, Socinians,
Arminians, in a word, _all Protestants_, whatever their religious opinions
may be, should have liberty to preach, to discuss, to worship, unmolested:
but Catholics must not be tolerated; they must not be permitted to defend
their doctrines; they must not be permitted to worship either in public or
in private.(6) This, he contends, is one of the _best means to prevent the
growth of Popery_.(7) Here is the champion of intellectual liberty that
Mr. Justice Keogh would hold up to the admiration of his audience! Here is
“the fast friend of toleration”, “the staunchest friend of freedom and
truth that ever lived”, the man who “has made the most successful war
against tyranny and falsehood”! We must charitably suppose that the
learned lecturer has formed his opinion of Milton without reading his

We are told by the biographers of Milton that his father, who was the son
of a zealous Roman Catholic, abandoned the religion of his ancestors, and
was on that account deprived of his inheritance. The act of apostasy is
one that the Catholic Church can never contemplate without the deepest
sorrow and abhorrence. According to the principles of our faith, he who
separates himself from the one True Church transgresses the command of God
and forfeits his claim to everlasting happiness. Yet, it would seem, Mr.
Justice Keogh finds in this act nothing to deplore, but much to admire.
Speaking of the poet, he says:—

    “He was in early youth instructed by a father who had sacrificed
    for conscience’ sake a fair inheritance, with all scriptural lore,
    of which he drank with a thirst which was never satisfied”.

If we understand these words aright, our author regards with complacency
the conduct of one who renounced the true faith, to embrace a religion
which, in the eyes of all Catholics, is false and heretical. To his mind
the act of apostasy is _a sacrifice for conscience’ sake_. This is
liberality of sentiment indeed! But it is a liberality of sentiment which
we cannot reconcile with the maxims of sacred Scripture. Not so did the
great apostle speak of those who had “made shipwreck concerning the
faith”. “Of whom”, he said, “is Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have
delivered up to Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme”—I. _Tim._, i.
19. 20. And again: “And their speech spreadeth like a canker; of whom is
Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have erred from the truth, saying that the
resurrection is past already”—II. _Tim._, ii. 17, 18.

Our readers, perhaps, will not be unwilling to know what was the effect of
this training on the religious principles of Milton. His rich and vigorous
mind was, indeed, a fertile soil. The seed which was sown in the spring
time of youth, did not fail to grow up into a luxuriant tree, and to bring
forth fruit in due season, according to its kind. In the maturity of life
he constructed a system of theology which he professed to derive from
Scripture alone. It is recorded by his own pen in his treatise _De
Doctrina Christiana_, which, having been lost for a hundred and fifty
years, has come to light within the present century. The peculiar tenets
which he sets forth in this remarkable book may be briefly told. He
defends the lawfulness of polygamy and divorce; he maintains that matter
exists from eternity; he denies the doctrine of the Trinity; the Son is
inferior to the Father, and produced in time; the Holy Ghost is inferior
to the Father and the Son. An able writer has described “the result of the
whole work” as “a system of theology not merely in discordance with the
Church of England, but with every sect by which we are divided; an
incoherent and conflicting theory, which combines Arianism, Anabaptism,
Latitudinarianism, Quakerism, and we know not what to add, on account of
his opinions on polygamy, but Mahometanism”.(8) These results are the ripe
fruit of that early instruction in “all Scriptural lore” which Milton
received, and for which Mr. Justice Keogh would seek our sympathy and

After what we have seen, we cannot be surprised that our learned lecturer
should point the finger of scorn and ridicule at the Roman Inquisition.
Speaking of Milton’s travels in Italy, he says: “There it was his fortune
to visit Gallileo, confined in the prison of the Inquisition for thinking
in astronomy otherwise than the Franciscan and Dominican believers”. We do
not propose here to defend the Inquisition: neither shall we attempt to
disprove the charge, which Mr. Justice Keogh would fain convey, that the
Catholic Church is the enemy of scientific truth. We shall wait for an
adversary who deals in arguments and not in sneers. We cannot, however,
forbear to notice a gross inaccuracy in the statement of fact. It is
asserted that it was the fortune of Milton “to visit Gallileo _confined in
the prison of the Inquisition_”. This assertion is simply false. Milton’s
visit must have occurred about the year 1638, and it is well known to all
who are acquainted with the subject, that Gallileo was then living at home
in his own house at Arcetri, quietly pursuing his astronomical studies. In
point of law, indeed, he was still technically a prisoner of the
Inquisition, but this is widely different from being _confined in the
prison of the Inquisition_. It is only fair to observe that the words of
Milton himself, from whom the lecturer has taken his statement, are, on
this point, strictly correct. “There it was that I found and visited the
famous Gallileo, grown old, _a prisoner to the Inquisition_, for thinking
in astronomy otherwise than the Franciscan and Dominican licensers
thought”.(9) Our lecturer, therefore, in borrowing the language of the
poet, has not only contrived to introduce an error, but he has taken care
that this error shall be on the side most unfavourable to the Catholic

We shall not trouble the reader with our own views or arguments on the
hackneyed controversy of Gallileo’s persecution. We shall be content to
contrast the opinion of Mr. Justice Keogh with that of a learned and able
Protestant writer, who has devoted much study to the life and times of the
great astronomer, and who is himself honourably distinguished in kindred
fields of science. Sir David Brewster, with all his strong anti-Catholic
prejudices, distinctly maintains that the trials of Gallileo, such as they
were, are not to be ascribed to his opinions in matters of astronomy, but
rather to his “personal imprudence” and to his “irreligious
sentiments”.(10) The character of the persecution which he had to endure
at the hands of the Catholic Church may be gathered from the testimony of
the same eminent writer. In the year 1623, long after he had been tried
before the tribunal of the Inquisition, having occasion to come to Rome,
he met with a noble and generous reception from the Father of the
faithful. “The kindness of his Holiness”, says Sir David Brewster, “was of
the most marked description. He not only loaded Gallileo with presents,
and promised him a pension for his son Vincenzo, but wrote a letter to
Ferdinand II., who had just succeeded Cosmo as Grand Duke of Tuscany,
recommending Gallileo to his particular patronage”.(11) And again he says:

    “Thus honoured by the head of the Church, and befriended by its
    dignitaries, Gallileo must have felt himself secure against the
    indignities of its lesser functionaries.... But Gallileo was bound
    to the Romish hierarchy by even stronger ties. His son and himself
    were pensioners of the Church; and having accepted of its alms,
    they owed it at least a decent and respectful allegiance. The
    pension thus given by Urban was not a remuneration which
    sovereigns sometimes award to the services of their subjects.
    Gallileo was a foreigner at Rome. The sovereign of the Papal state
    owed him no obligation; and hence we must regard the pension of
    Gallileo as _a donation from the Roman Pontiff to science itself_,
    and as a declaration to the Christian world that _religion was not
    jealous of philosophy_, and that the Church of Rome was willing to
    _respect and foster even the genius of its enemies_”.(12)

There are many other blots in the address of Mr. Justice Keogh, which a
severe critic would not pass by without censure. He would ask, perhaps,
how comes it that the lecturer takes his Scriptural quotations from the
Protestant and not from the Catholic Bible? Is it that the Protestant
Bible is the only one with which he is familiar? Can it be that the
Protestant Bible is the source from which he derives his views in
philosophy and in theology? We fully recognize the literary merits of the
English Authorized Version; but there can be no doubt that the religious
prejudices of its authors have led them into many serious errors. At all
events it is not usual for a Catholic to quote from its pages without some
apology or some explanation. Again, why does he tell his audience that the
names of Spenser, of Shakespeare, of Scott, are to be found on the _Index
Expurgatorius_? Did he consult the _Index_ himself and find these names
upon it? It cannot be: they are not there. Was he induced to make the
assertion on the authority of some trustworthy witness? We can scarcely
believe it was so: no writer who cares for his reputation would commit
himself to a statement so easily disproved. Was it, then, that he wished
to cast unfounded aspersions on the Catholic Church, and to bring her
institutions into discredit with all who cherish the names of those
illustrious writers? Once more: Mr. Justice Keogh, forgetting, for the
moment, his country as well as his religion, introduces to the favourable
notice of his audience “our glorious deliverer, William III.”! What a
startling phrase to hear from the lips of an Irishman and a Catholic!
William III. possessed many eminent qualities: he was a brave soldier and
an able statesmen. But in the annals of Ireland his name must be for ever
associated with persecution and with perfidy.(13)

Our limited space is now drawing to a close; and, in good truth, we are
weary of passing censure. It is time that we lift up our eyes from the
right honourable lecturer to fix them for a few moments on the more noble
and majestic proportions of the great poet himself. When we contemplate
that venerable figure, as it stands forth to view on the canvas of
history, if we speak in the language of censure, it must be blended with
the language of genuine love and veneration. His errors we cannot defend;
his faults we do not wish to extenuate; we are obliged to protest against
his principles, and those who eulogise them. But amidst the varied
fortunes of his chequered career he displayed many great qualities, which
cannot fail to win the admiration of every generous heart.

Of his public conduct as a statesman we cannot indeed speak with approval.
It seems to us that all the arguments advanced in his defence carry with
them also his condemnation. He sided with the parliament against the king,
because, it is said, he wished to uphold the constitution of his country;
and yet he defended the trial and execution of the king, which were
conducted in defiance of that same constitution. He abandoned his lawful
sovereign to support the fortunes of Cromwell, because he believed that
Charles was a despot; and yet he clung to the cause of Cromwell when
Cromwell was not only a despot but an usurper. If the constitution was to
be upheld, then the execution of the king was indefensible. If a tyrant
should forfeit the allegiance of his subjects, then Cromwell had no claim
to be obeyed. Yet however much he erred, it must be ever borne in mind
that those who took a part in the turbulent events of the great rebellion,
had not the same opportunities to form a calm and impartial judgment which
we now possess. Men distinguished by great vigour of mind and great public
spirit, were to be found on opposite sides in the senate and in the camp.
None could have told, when the breach first appeared between Charles and
his parliament, that it would lead to civil war and end in the crime of
regicide. It was necessary to make a choice; and the choice once made, it
required more than ordinary virtue, more than ordinary courage, to recede;
virtue and courage with which Milton was not endowed.

Those, however, who would form a just estimate of Milton’s character must
seek him far away from the din of war and the strife of parties. He had
borne a conspicuous part in a memorable political struggle; his fame had
been carried abroad to distant lands; and yet he retires without regret
from public life, to commune with his own mind in the obscurity of an
humble lodging. The world admires the magnanimity of the old Roman who,
having saved his country from destruction, returned again to his plough
and to the simple pleasures of his rustic home. But there is far more to
admire in the closing period of Milton’s career. The hour of his
prosperity had passed away; the vigour of youth was gone. Disappointed in
his hopes, neglected by an age unworthy of his genius, poor, and blind,
and old, his splendid mind rose superior to all these calamities, which
would have crushed a less noble spirit. As if now, at length, released
from the captivity of earthly bonds, he soars aloft to higher thoughts,
and pours forth from an overflowing soul the lofty strains of his
unrivalled poem, the glory of English literature, the wonder and delight
of every succeeding age. Not often does the history of the world present
to us a spectacle so sublime.

Yet how little does genius avail in the one great and important affair of
religion, unless guided and controlled by that infallible authority which
God has established in His Church! The great doctrinal errors of Milton
cannot be imputed to any want of intellectual power; for, in the natural
gifts of intellect, he was eminently conspicuous. Much rather must they be
ascribed to the erroneous system he employed in the search of Revealed
truth. Starting from false principles, the more boldly he advanced, the
more deeply did he plunge into error. In common with other Protestants, he
accepted the doctrine of private judgment; but he was distinguished from
others by the logical consistency and inflexible resolution with which he
ever clung to this fundamental principle. Having been taught not to
subject his reason to the authority of a Church which claimed to be
infallible, he refused to submit to the teaching of a Church which had
renounced that claim. His errors were more extravagant than those of other
Protestant writers, only because he was more fearless in his speculations,
more consistent in his principles, more honest in his speech. Others are
often saved from error because they hesitate to follow the light of
reason, when reason would lead them too far from the beaten track of
received opinions. But such timidity and inconsistency were little in
harmony with the spirit of Milton. He had learned in early youth, as a
first principle, that, in the matter of religion, Scripture should be his
only authority, reason his only guide; and in after life he was ever
prepared to follow that guide whithersoever it might conduct.

The religious career of Milton appears to us, therefore, in a remarkable
manner, at once to illustrate and to disprove the Protestant _Rule of
Faith_. In him it was fairly tried, and it was found wanting. It would be
difficult, we believe, to select from the whole range of Protestant
writers any one who possessed in a higher degree, those qualities which
are favourable to the exercise of private judgment. His distinguished
biographer, Mr. Mitford, who was himself a Protestant clergyman, has
spoken on this subject with great candour and ability. Referring to the
treatise _De Doctrina Christiana_, he says:—

    “It is acknowledged by all that it is written with a calm and
    conscientious desire for truth, like that of a man who had
    forgotten or dismissed the favourite animosities of his youth, and
    who had retired within himself, in the dignity of age, to employ
    the unimpaired energies of his intellect on the most important and
    awful subject of inquiry. The haughtiness of his temper, the
    defiance of his manner, his severe and stoical pride, are no
    longer seen. He approaches the book of God with an humble and
    reverential feeling, and with such a disposition of piety, united
    to so powerful an intellect, and such immense stores of learning,
    who would not have expected to have seen the ‘star-bright form’ of
    truth appear from out the cloud; but wherever we look, the pride
    of man’s heart is lowered, and the weakness of humanity displayed.
    With all his great qualifications for the removal of error and the
    discovery of truth, _he failed_”.(14)

He not only failed, but he seems to have been a perfect type of that
unsteadiness in error which St. Paul describes in his Epistle to the
Ephesians: he was as a little child “tossed to and fro, and carried about
with every wind of doctrine”. He wandered, we are told, “from Puritanism
to Calvinism, from Calvinism to an esteem for Arminius, and finally, from
an accordance with the Independents and Anabaptists to a dereliction of
every denomination of Protestants”.(15) When this was the fate of his
gigantic intellect, how can humbler minds hope to attain success if they
employ the same means?

It seems to us, therefore, that we can find some excuse for the errors of
Milton in the false principles which he had imbibed in his youth. And,
with all his faults, we cannot but revere the magnanimity of his spirit,
the splendour of his genius. But we have no sympathy with those who,
having the rich inheritance of an infallible authority for their guide in
matters of religion, would yet claim for themselves the right to launch
forth into the boundless sea of thought without restriction or restraint;
who blindly embrace the conclusions of Milton, while they reject his
premises; and who imitate him in his wanderings, while they cannot imitate
that nobility of sentiment and that loftiness of eloquence which shed a
lustre even around his errors.


In the year 1463, _Matthew_ or _Mahoun O’Griffa_ was appointed by Pope
Pius II., Bishop of Killaloe. He had hitherto held the canonry and prebend
of Teampul-monin, in the diocese of Limerick, the annual revenue of which
amounted to twenty marks, and the _Monumenta Vaticana_ preserve an
interesting fragment, which records the appointment of Donald
Magillapadrig as his successor in that dignity: “Confertur ipsi
canonicatus et prebenda de Tampolmonin in Ecclesia Limericensi quorum
fructus viginti marcharum sterlingorum non excedunt et quos Mattheus
electus Laonensis tempore suae promotionis obtinebat” (17 Decemb., 1463;
pag. 455).

Dr. O’Griffa died in 1482, and was succeeded the same year by Terence
O’Brien, who ruled the see for forty-three years, and, as Ware informs us,
“was a prelate of great account among his people for his liberality and

Richard Hogan, a Franciscan, was chosen his successor in 1525, and after
an episcopate of fourteen years, was translated to Clonmacnoise by Pope
Paul III., on 16th June, 1539. He, however, enjoyed this new dignity only
for a little while, as, a few days after his translation, he was summoned
to his eternal reward.

It is remarkable that the episcopate of his successor in the see of
Killaloe was equally short; for, _Tirlogh_, in Latin _Theodoricus
O’Brien_, appointed its bishop in June, 1539, died before December the
same year. Both sees being thus vacant at the same time, _Dr. Florence
O’Gerawan_, _i.e._ Kirwan, was appointed bishop of Clonmacnoise and
Killaloe on 15th December, 1539, the union of these sees being at the same
time limited to the lifetime of this bishop. The following is the
consistorial entry:—

    “Anno 1539, 15 Decembris: Sua Sanctitas providit Ecclesiis
    Claonensi et Laonensi in Hibernia vacantibus per obitum Richardi
    et Theodorici de persona fratris Florentii Igernam (sic) ord.
    Fratrum Min. cum dispensatione ex defectu natalium et unione
    duarum Ecclesiarum ad vitam dicti Florentii”.

We have already had occasion to speak of this bishop when treating of the
see of Clonmacnoise (_Record_, part 1., pag. 157); his episcopate was
marked by many signal events, and his zeal in the defence of the Catholic
faith merited for him the hatred of the enemies of our holy Church. He
died in 1554, and had for his successor Terence O’Brien, who received his
appointment in the beginning of Queen Mary’s reign, and continued to
administer the see till his death, which is registered by the _Four
Masters_ in 1569.

_Malachy O’Molony_ was next proclaimed in consistory on 10th January,
1571. He suffered much from the agents of the Protestant establishment:
“Plurima ab haereticis mala et nonnunquam carceris acrumnas passus est”
(Mooney, _MS. Hist. Francis._); and on 22nd of August, 1576, his
translation to Kilmacduagh was solemnly promulgated in the Roman court.

His successor, _Cornelius O’Melrian_, O.S.F., was appointed the same
month, viz., 26th August, 1576, and for forty-one years, till his death in
1617, he continued bishop of this ancient see. This prelate played an
important part in the last great struggle of the Desmond chieftains; and
we have intentionally passed rapidly over the preceding bishops, that
space might remain for dwelling on the unpublished documents connected
with his history. At the time of his appointment to the see of Killaloe,
James Fitzmaurice was actively engaged on the Continent in enlisting the
aid of the Catholic powers in favour of the Irish confederates. Before
setting sail from Lisbon on 30th October, 1577, this chieftain wrote to
Gaspar de Quiroza, Archbishop of Toledo, acquainting him with the disaster
which had befallen our Bishop Cornelius, who, a little while before,
having sailed from Rochelle for the Irish coast, was captured by pirates,
and being despoiled of all he possessed, was obliged to return to the
Continent. Fitzmaurice adds:—

    “He (Dr. O’Melrian) is most devoted to us, and we confide to him
    all the secrets which are to be communicated to you connected with
    the succour which is to be sent to us; it would be most useful
    that he should accompany the expedition of troops, to instruct
    them as to the place for landing; as well as to conduct them to
    our quarters”.

The letter terminates with the sweet old Irish invocation “_spes nostra
Jesus et Maria_”.

When at length a considerable body of Spanish troops set sail for Ireland,
under the command of the unfortunate colonel St. José, the bishop of
Killaloe accompanied them, but soon quitted their ranks to join the Irish
camp and assist the native Desmond princes by his sacred ministry and
counsel. In 1582 he was instructed by the Earl of Desmond to proceed to
Spain and Rome, and negotiate whatever measures might tend to the succour
of Ireland. The following letters addressed by this Irish chieftain to the
reigning pontiff Gregory XIII., will be read with interest by all who are
acquainted with that sad period of our history; they are extracted from
the Vatican archives:


    “In vinca Domini exercituum laboramus expugnando luteranam istam
    Angliae Reginam; toto enim hoc triennio elapso, prout jam bellum
    gerimus, in armis sumus. Nostrum omnemque statum omniaque nostra
    exposuimus periculo evidentissimo semper perdendi, bellumque istud
    in Hibernia propter causas subsequentes his tribus annis elapsis
    in manus libentissime assumpsimus, nimirum quod sanctae matris
    Ecclesiae causa erat, ac quod Vestra Sanctitas jussit, atque
    hortabatur ut rem inciperemus. Mihi meisque omnibus minime
    peperci, oppida, villas et pagos, arces et castra cum fratribus
    nostris Joanne et Jacobo de Geraldinis ac sexdecim aliis ex nostra
    domo, in hoc bello perdidimus: nihilominus quamdiu vita comes
    fuerit istud bellum prosequemur contra Angliae maledictam Reginam
    donec S. Sanctitas ac sua majestas Catholica nos juverit ut
    possimus haereticos propellere ex Hibernia totumque Regnum
    subjicere legibus sanctae matris Ecclesiae. Et quia hactenus
    praestolationem istius subsidii experimur, harum latorem Episcopum
    Laonensem nostro et omnium nobilium hujus causae consensu
    ambasciatorem et sollicitatorem universi negotii ad Suam
    Sanctitatem et ad S. majestatem Catholicam mittimus cui V.
    Sanctitas omnem fidem dabit, illumque ita auscultet non secus quam
    nos si praesentes fuissemus auscultaret, rogantes obnixe V.
    Sanctitatem (cui pedes humili animo exosculamur) ut nostram
    inquietudinem et longam perturbationem animadvertat auxiliumque
    cum hoc nostro ambasciatore mittatur quo poterimus confringere
    audaciam adversariorum Christi Ecclesiae. Expediret denique ut V.
    Sanctitas auctoritatem nuncii in negotiis ecclesiasticis mitteret
    ad Laonensem Episcopum et potissimum ut ipsi liceat pontificalia
    officia exercere ubicumque se invenerit cum licentia ordinarii;
    vir enim spectatae vitae et virtutis magnaeque spei apud omnes
    est, huicque causae addictissimus, ac fidelissimus.

    “Datum in Castris Catholicorum in Hibernia,
    die 1 Septembris, 1582.
    "Sanctitatis Vae. addictissimus servus,

Two months later the second letter was addressed to the same great


    “Accepimus a presbytero Hiberno Sanctitatis vestrae litteras per
    Cardinalem Comensem datas Romae 6to Augusti, quibus nobis patuit
    Sanctitatis Vestrae propensissimus animus, curaque vigilantissima
    nedum erga nos sed etiam erga salutem totius Regni Hiberniae, adeo
    ut ad ejus voluntatem in hoc nihil addi potest, quam pollicetur
    nos reipsa experturos supernâ elementia opitulante. Quod vero
    commissum erat latori qui tulerit litteras ut spem nobis augeat ac
    ut in negotio hoc sancto persistamus pedefixo, suo muneri in hoc
    satisfecit. Intelligat V. Sanctitas quod quamquam nos omnia pene
    temporalia in hoc bello, fidei defensionis causa, amisimus, et
    quod multo vehementius nos angit in conflictibus contra Anglos
    Ecclesiae feroces hostes nostrum consobrinum D. Jacobum Geraldinum
    cum nostris postremo fratribus D. Joanne et Jacobo ac nonnullis
    aliis ex nostra domo qui successive in hoc bello occubuere,
    nihilominus tamen in hac Dei et Sanctitatis Vestrae causa
    immobilis permaneo, superni Dei optimi maximi ac Sanctitatis
    vestrae praestolaturus auxilium quo possem severos Ecclesiae
    hostes propellere ex Regno, illiusque integrum statum legibus
    sanctae matris Ecclesiae subjicere; proinde V. Sanctitas
    quemadmodum in ea omnem spem habemus non differat nos juvare et
    quod reliquum erit cum Rege Catholico ferventissime et quam
    citissime agere ut auxilium jam nobis mittatur plenum et
    sufficiens quo finem huic rei intentae imponamus.

    “Ad sollicitandum istud negotium, mense Septembri praeterito
    misimus nostrum ambasciatorem Epum. Laonensem ad S. Vestram et ad
    Regem Catholicum quem plurimi faciat V. Sanctitas omnem fidem illi
    praebendo in omnibus rebus attinentibus ad nos et ad universum
    statum illius belli; post cujus discessum ducentos Anglos in uno
    conflictu interfecimus, ea enim quae Deus operatus est per nos
    contra Anglos ante ejus discessum, autumo illum S. Sanctitati
    aperuisse: expediret denique omnino ut cum hoc subsidio postulato
    veniat aliquis Nuncii auctoritatem habens inter nos, qui judicio
    omnium censendus esset Laonensis, ad quem S. Sanctitas dignetur
    etiam harum responsum dirigere ut via sibi cognita nos mox
    certiores reddat. Vivat V. Sanctitas nobis in multos annos.

    “Ex Castris Catholicorum in Hibernia,
    die 6to Novembris, 1582.

A third letter, dated 18th June in the following year, repeats the same
sentiments of devoted attachment to the Holy See, and petitions that the
lands of the deceased James Geraldine should be granted to his son,
Gerald. It thus concludes:

    “Litteras vero super praedictas terras confectas, V. Sanctitas
    dignetur mittere per Nuntium Apostolicum Hispaniarum ad nostrum
    Ambasciatorem Cornelium Episcopum Laonensem cui cupimus ut V.
    Sanctitas fidem in omnibus adhibeat, eumque fretum auctoritate
    Nuntii cum subsidio mittendo ad nos dignetur mittere, quia aliis
    palmam praeripit, quibus hoc esset concedendum. Valeat ac vivat V.
    Sanctitas in Nestoreos annos.

    “Ex Castris Catholicorum in Hybernia, 18 Junii.
    “Stis. Vae. servus addictissimus prout opera ipsa comprobant
                contra adversarios hostesque ecclesiae.

In the Vatican archives is also preserved a series of letters of our
bishop Cornelius, addressed to Rome in the years 1582, 1583, and 1584.
They are all connected with the diplomatic mission which he received from
the Geraldine princes, and some of them throw considerable light on the
contemporary civil and ecclesiastical history of our island.

Before, however, we present them to the reader, we deem it necessary to
remark that the relations of our bishops and of the Holy See with the
native princes during the wars of Elizabeth’s reign have often been
misconstrued, in the writings of those who were led away by the frenzy of
political agitation. The Irish chieftains had at this period the title and
privileges of independent princes; and as such they were entitled to
defend with the sword those religious and civil rights which the
government of Elizabeth attempted to destroy. Hence, their struggle
merited the sympathy of the Holy See and the blessing of our
martyr-clergy. But far more distant than heaven is from earth were the
chivalry of James Fitzmaurice and the heroism of Hugh O’Neill from that
accursed Fenian blight which, alas! has now-a-days fallen upon some of our
benighted and deluded countrymen!

We give these letters in chronological order, and in their original
language, that thus our readers may be the better able to appreciate the
sentiments of this distinguished bishop of Killaloe.

1. The first letter is dated Lisbon, 22nd September, 1582, and was
addressed to his Eminence Cardinal de Como:—


    “Litteras comitis Desmoniae Generalis Catholicorum in Hibernia cum
    nostris litteris mittimus ad suam Sanctitatem ex quibus sua
    Dignatio Illustrissima plenius intelligat negotium, operamque det,
    quaeso, ut huic sanctissimae caussae jam tandem subveniatur:
    alioquin actum erit de comite Desmoniae caeterisque Catholicis qui
    arma elevarunt fidei defensionis causâ, patriaque illa Hibernia
    impiâ potestate reginae maledictae Angliae omnino subjiciatur. Sua
    Dignatis Illustrissima dignetur responsum illarum litterarum suae
    Sanctitatis per Nuntium Apostolicum Hispaniarum ad nos mittere.
    Caeterum talis clausula habetur in mea Bulla quod extra meum
    episcopatum etiam cum licentia ordinarii non possem exercere
    pontificalia. Proinde rogo suam Dominationem Illmam. ut dignetur
    alloqui ea de re Suam Sanctitatem, mihique hinc oris oraculo vel
    in scriptis impetrare ut possim cum licentia ordinarii exercere
    pontificalia, multum enim hoc proderit. Valeat sua dominatio
    Illustrissima in Christo Jesu.

    “Ex Ulissipona 22 mensis Sept., 1582.

    “Illustrissimae Dominationis vestrae,

    “addictissimus servus,


2. The second letter is addressed to Pope Gregory XIII., from Madrid, the
4th December, 1582:


    “Cum primum appuleram Ulissiponam ex Hibernia, scripsi Suae
    Sanctitati omnem statum totius istius negotii Hiberniae
    litterasque comitis Desmoniae Generalis Catholicorum per Nuntium
    Apostolicum Hispaniarum suae Sanctitati misi. Tandem usque modo
    omni diligentia egi cum rege Catholico, ut negotio subveniret:
    hanc resolutionem jam recepi, usque quod sua Majestas sit parata
    ut subveniat ac quod in Lusitania habet milites paratos ad
    expeditionem istius negotii, et quod istud cum sit negotium
    sanctae matris Ecclesiae et fidei restituendae in Hibernia,
    necesse esse, ut Vestra Sanctitas juvet atque subveniat, et istud
    subsidium quod exigitur est pecuniarum ut praedictis militibus
    stipendia solvantur. Tandem jussum est ut ego conferrem me
    Madritium ut cum Nuntio Apostolico et Cardinali Granvelano agerem
    ut ipsi cum Sua Sanctitate solertes agant, ut Sua Sanctitas
    ordinet quibus mediis et quo ordine hoc fiat: quare cum istud
    negotium sit positum in sinu Sanctitatis Vestrae, atque ab ipso
    omnino emanat, rogo atque obtestor S. Sanctitatem ut dignetur
    subvenire, ordinemque praescribere, ut pecuniae in subsidium et ad
    expeditionem istius negotii dentur ut militibus stipendia
    solvantur, digneturque cum sua Majestate agere ut videlicet sine
    dilatione incipiat vel cum ipsa postulat, ut non differatur,
    alioquin actum erit de statu totius regni Hiberniae et scintilla
    fidei quae illic adhuc remanet omnino extinguetur, illudque Regnum
    quod semper in gremio sanctae matris Ecclesiae quievit et floruit
    omnino subjicietur impiae potestati Reginae maledictae Angliae.
    Comes enim Desmoniae postquam perdidit in hoc bello suos fratres
    germanos cum nonnullis nobilibus ex sua domo, ingenue fatetur se
    non posse amplius sustinere istud bellum sine subsidio sibi
    pollicito: est igitur illi cito subveniendum antequam viribus
    omnino enervetur. Vestra Sanctitas recordetur hanc caussam esse
    suam, fidei et sanctae matris ecclesiae, et Hibernorum qui semper
    vere filii Sedis Apostolicae sunt, et potissimum comitis Desmoniae
    qui omnia sua omnemque suum statum periculo semper perdendi
    exposuit fidei defensionis causâ. Valeat et vivat Sanctitas Vestra
    in Nestoreos annos.

    “Madritii, quarto die mensis Decembris 1582.

    “Sanctitatis V. humilis filius et addictissimus servus,


3. The letter to the Holy Father was accompanied by another short letter
addressed to the _Cardinalis Comensis_ as follows:


    “In litteris Suae Sanctitatis poteris videre responsum regis
    Catholici: respondet enim se habere milites in Lusitania ad
    expeditionem nostri negotii Hiberniae, sed necesse esse ut Sua
    Sanctitas subministret pecunias ut parti militum stipendia
    solvantur. Proinde cum regis ordine veni Ulissipona Madritium ut
    satagerem cum Nuntio Apostolico et Cardinali Granvelano, et hoc
    Suae Sanctitati detegatur ut cum ejus ordine et subsidio res
    incipiatur; demonstrat enim rex nobis se promptissimum esse ut jam
    subveniat. Cum igitur istud negotium omnino emanet a
    sollicitatione Dominationis suae Illmae. tum cum Sua Sanctitate,
    tum etiam cum Rege Catholico, rogo atque obtestor suam
    Dominationem Illmam. ut omni diligentia agat, ut non differatur
    istud subsidium mittere ad illos nobiles qui toto hoc triennio
    elapso istud exspectant quique omnia sua fidei defensionis causa

    “Ex Madritio 4 Decemb., 1582.

    “Illustrissimae ac Reverendissimae Dominationis Vestrae,


4. On the 26th of May, the following year, the next letter was addressed
from Madrid to the same cardinal:


    “Accepi suae Dominationis Illustrissimae litteras datas Romae die
    4 Januarii quibus hactenus distuli respondere donec ultimam
    resolutionem a sua Majestate Catholica reciperem, quam suae
    Dominationi Illustrissimae significare censui ut eam detegat Suae
    Sanctitati. Quae quidem est haec, nempe quod sua Majestas sit
    impedita donec videat exitum classis euntis in insulas Tertiae, et
    ea ratione ducebatur ut me detineret quia comes Desmoniae scripsit
    ad suam Majestatem quod si in meo adventu (in quem tum ipse tum
    caeteri nobiles tantum confiderunt) istud negotium Hiberniae non
    haberet prosperum successum, statim sisteret gradum gerendi
    bellum, inducias foedusque componeret cum regina maledicta
    Angliae. Jam vero ad nutriendum interim bellum in Hibernia, sua
    Majestas Catholica praestitit nobis magnam summam pecuniarum,
    armorum et victualium cum quibus ego hinc proficiscor ad portum
    maris ut illa necessaria sine dilatione et cum omni diligentia
    illinc transmittam ad comitem Desmoniae. Restat jam ut Sua
    Sanctitas persaepe commendet istud negotium Hiberniae suae
    Majestati Catholicae ut finito negotio praedictae insulae statim
    negotium nostrum incipiat.

    “Caeterum secretarius suae Majestatis Catholicae rogat me ut
    exerceam Pontificalia in quodam episcopatu hîc cum certa pensione
    donec sua Majestas parata erit ad mittendam classem in Hiberniam
    gratumque hoc esse, minusque fastidiosum regi affirmat qui tantis
    oneribus sumptibusque premitur. Jam in superioribus litteris petii
    facultatem exercendi pontificalia et de hoc jam recepi responsum
    Suae Sanctitatis per suam Dominationem Illustrissimam videlicet
    Suam Sanctitatem dixisse hoc adversari decretis concilii
    Tridentini et propterea nullatenus posse concedi. Intelligat Sua
    Sanctitas hanc clausulam non esse positam in mea Bulla propter
    meam culpam, neque etiam esse positam in Bullis Episcoporum
    Hibernorum post me creatorum qui nihil perpessi sunt in hoc bello
    Hibernico, quemadmodum ego perpessus sum nullaque praeclara
    facinora ediderant quemadmodum longe lateque constat me edidisse,
    nobilesque Hibernos esse valde offensos quando dicebam, in campo
    me non posse exercere pontificalia extra meum episcopatum etiam
    cum licentia ordinariorum loci. Proinde sua Dominatio
    Illustrissima rogabit Suam Sanctitatem ut dignetur in praemium
    laborum susceptorum et suscipiendorum in hoc bello Hibernico mihi
    vivae vocis oraculo vel in scriptis concedere facultatem exercendi
    pontificalia, et hîc interim quoad rex me detineat, cum licentia
    ordinariorum, vel, sede vacante, jussu regis et in Hibernia eodem
    modo et ubi non sunt Episcopi Catholici, jussu comitis Desmoniae
    generalis Catholicorum possem similiter exercere pontificalia,
    servatis servandis a jure et a sacro concilio Tridentino, contra
    quod aliquid moliri illicitum esse semper duxi. Quare obtestor
    suam Dominationem Illustrissimam ut statim et sine dilatione
    dignetur de hoc agere cum Sua Sanctitate, hancque licentiam mihi
    mittere per Nuncium Apostolicum Hispaniarum, hocque intelligat non
    minus gratum esse regi quam comiti Desmoniae, aliisque nobilibus
    ejus partem tuentibus in Hibernia. Christus Jesus suam
    Dominationem Illustrissimam perquam diutissime nobis sospitem

    “Madritii, die 26 Maii, 1583.

    “Illustrissimae Dominationis Suae,

    “addictissimus servus,


5. Six weeks later, the Bishop of Killaloe again writes to the Cardinal de
Como, acquainting him with the measures taken by the Spanish monarch:


    “Quamquam ternas ante has de eadem scripsi tibi litteras
    superioribus diebus, tamen ne forte ad ejus manus minime
    devenerint, censui rursus has tibi scribere litteras ut intelligat
    regem Catholicum mihi respondisse impossibile esse jam classem
    mitti in Hiberniam antequam sua Majestas intelligat exitum classis
    quae jam proficiscitur ad insulas Tertiae contra Dominum Antonium.
    Interim tamen ut bellum facilius sustentetur, in Hibernia
    praestitit mihi subsidium pecuniarum, armorum et victualium
    transmittendum mox in Hiberniam ad comitem Desmoniae; quorum
    omnium causa et ex mandato regio in hoc portu permaneo, donec
    praedicta omnia mittam ad Hiberniam quod spero fiet propediem cum
    nihil aliud praestolatur nisi ventus prosperus. Interea Rex
    Catholicus jussit ut pensio mihi assignaretur qua honeste
    potuissem me sustentare super Episcopatu Tigitanensi, interimque
    classis praeparabitur, cujus proprius pastor oblitus sui status se
    junxit Domino Antonio contra Regem Catholicum...

    “Ex portu de Scetufill, 5 Julii, 1583”.

6. The next letter is dated from Lisbon, the 1st August, 1583, and is
addressed to the Holy Father Gregory XIII.:


    “Comes Desmoniae generalis Catholicorum ferventer scripsit ad me
    superioribus diebus ut cum Sua Sanctitate agerem ut dignaretur per
    Bullam authenticam vel per Breve Apostolicum concedere terras
    possessionesque illorum qui interfecerunt Dominum Jacobum
    Geraldinum generalem vestrae Sanctitatis in Hibernia, Geraldo
    Geraldino filio praedicti D. Jacobi ut ipsi Geraldini vehementius
    habeant ansam inserviendi Sedi Apostolicae atque Suae Sanctitati,
    ac ut adversarii hoc concedendo terreantur ne Sedem Apostolicam
    impugnent neve istius Sedis Sanctissimae sint adversarii inter nos
    qui Anglis faveant atque opitulentur posthac quemadmodum hactenus.
    Quocirca nonnihil conducet negotio atque ad augmentationem fidei
    in Hibernia ut Sua Sanctitas consideret servitium Geraldinorum et
    potissimum Jacobi Gerald generalis Vestrae Sanctitatis et istius
    postremo comitis Desmoniae qui totis viribus impugnat maledictam
    reginam ejusque fautores quique progressus felices ipsam
    impugnando hactenus habuit. Proinde in praemium horum omnium
    Vestra Sanctitas dignetur concedere litteras atque possessiones
    istorum qui interfecerunt D. Jacobum Geraldinum, Domino Geraldo
    Geraldino filio praedicti D. Jacobi Generalis Vestrae Sanctitatis
    prout comes Desmoniae Suae Sanctitati fusissime scripsit: quod si
    fecerit Sua Sanctitas rem gratissimam comiti factura sit
    coeterosque pene nobiles Hibernos concitabit ut sibi Sedique
    Apostolicae inserviant, domumque Geraldinorum semper sibi
    addictissimam et promptissimam experietur. Christus Jesus Suam
    Sanctitatem nobis sospitem conservet in multos annos.

    “Ex Ulissipona, 1 Augusti, 1583.

    “Sanctitatis Vestrae,

    “filius atque addictissimus servus,


7. The seventh letter is addressed from Lisbon on 26th Nov. 1583, to
Cardinal de Como:

    “Persaepe hactenus egi litteris cum Sua Sanctitate atque
    praesentia et verbo cum sua Majestate Catholica ut omnia tandem
    dignentur subvenire Regno Hiberniae misere hactenus desolato. Sed
    cum jam tempus adest subveniendi, censui rogare suam Dominationem
    Illustrissimam ut dignetur agere cum Sua Sanctitate, ut cum Rege
    Catholico agat, ut haec classis quae revertitur ex insula Tertiae
    transmittatur ad Hiberniam, qua transmissa Hibernia legibus
    sanctae matris ecclesiae atque Anglia propediem subjicietur.
    Denique haec erit proximior via qua sua Majestas habebit Flandriam
    quietam sibique subjectam....

    “Valeat Dominus meus Illustrissimus, in Christo Jesu.

    “Ex Ulissipona, 26 Novemb., 1583.

    “Dominationis Suae Illustrissimae,

    “addictissimus servus,


8. Three months later another letter was addressed to the same cardinal,
conveying the sad intelligence of the assassination of the Earl of


    “Suam Dominationem Illustrissimam certiorem reddere censui de hoc
    negotio Hiberniae ut Suam Sanctitatem dignetur de illo informare.
    Imprimis intelligat Illustrissimus Dominus, Geraldum Comitem
    Desmoniae generalem Catholicorum qui erat caput istius belli
    Hibernici occubuisse nuperrime et traditorie in bello, ejusque
    caput post ejus mortem a nefariis Anglis erat abscissum et
    transmissum ex Hibernia ad maledictam Angliae nominatam reginam.
    Tristissima ac longe moestissima nova nobis sunt ista ac prorsus
    de reductione Hiberniae ad fidem principia desperandi, nisi S.
    Sanctitas mox manus adjutrices porrigat, tum subveniendo militibus
    aut pecuniis, tum etiam scribendo quam effectuosissime ad suam
    Majestatem Catholicam, ut non differat jam mittere classem ad
    Hiberniam, qua transmissa universa Hibernia legibus sanctae matris
    Ecclesiae subjicietur eritque etiam principium et solidum
    fundamentum reductionis Angliae ad fidem: quod si hoc non fiet mox
    antequam Regina maledicta iniquis suis legibus subjiciat sibi
    regnum cum non sit aliquis principalis qui resistat, actum erit de
    toto negotio et scintilla fidei quae huc usque illic viguit omnino
    extinguetur, eritque Hibernia non secus quam Anglia referta
    iniquis legibus maledictae Reginae....

    “Ex Ulissipona, 13 Februarii, 1584.

    “Illustrissimae Dominationis Vestrae,

    “addictissimus servus,


IX. On the 7th of September, 1584, our Bishop again writes to His


    “Hactenus praestolabar cupidissimo animo profectionem classis Suae
    Sanctitatis ac majestatis Catholicae in Hiberniam quod cum mihi in
    mandatis a magnatibus Hiberniae et potissimum a Comite Desmoniae
    incumbebat, ut hoc sollicitarem, officio non defui hactenus ut
    probe novit Sua Dominatio Illustrissima. Jam vero cum praedictus
    comes Desmoniae generalis Catholicorum sit interfectus in bello
    neminemque alium moliri bellum in Hibernia post ejus mortem,
    quinimo omnes obtemperant Reginae, comperio negotium esse tepidum
    frigidumque, ac proinde censui oratum iri suam Dominem.
    Illustrissimam ut dignetur alloqui Suam Sanctitatem, erga meam
    penuriam et necessitatem rerum necessariarum, ob id quod nihil ex
    propriis reditibus recipio, et cum Sua Sanctitate satagere ut
    aliquid mihi quolibet mense vel annue subministretur per
    collectorem Apostolicum commorantem Ulissiponae, ubi cupio
    commorari prope nova Hiberniae, donec co classis mittatur aut
    Regina moriatur, quia sine una aut altera nequeo adire

    “Ulissiponae, 7 Septembris, 1584.

    “Sua Dominatio Illustrissima dignetur favere Roberto Laseo
    Cancellario Limericensi qui nedum est vir probus ac generosus sed
    etiam quam multa perdidit in bello praeterito Hibernico cum Comite

    “Illustrissimae ac Reverendissimae Dom. V.

    “addictissimus servus,


X. Another letter was addressed to the Pope on the same day:


    “Postquam in campo Catholicorum cum comite Desmoniae, caeterisque
    nobilibus Regni Hiberniae solus episcopus tribus annis manseram
    labores improbos sustinens praedicando, admonendo et imperando
    quae expediebant saluti hominum progressuique belli contra
    rabidissimos ferocesque ecclesiae hostes Anglos, nihilque interim
    recipiens ex proprio Episcopatu, cujus redditus percipiuntur a
    quodam haeretico nominato Episcopo qui illic residet ex parte
    Reginae maladictae Angliae, me tandem contuli ad has partes jussu
    comitis Desmoniae Generalis Catholicorum caeterorumque nobilium
    sibi adhaerentium ut officio Ambasciatoris fungerer, nedum cum Sua
    Sanctitate sed etiam cum sua Majestate Catholica ut dignaretur
    sibi mittere classem vel saltem mediocre subsidium quo bellum
    feliciter incoeptum ad optatum finem deduceret, quemadmodum ipse
    comes suis litteris adhuc vivens persaepe detexit Suae Sanctitati.
    Ego hactenus saepissime egi cum sua Majestate sed subsidium illud
    exiguum quod extorsi a sua Majestate adeo dilatum erat ut comes
    Desmoniae viam universae carnis ingrederetur in bello, antequam
    navicula illa cum armis illis et pecuniis Hiberniam appulerat,
    unde rediit cum eodem subsidio ad ministros suae Majestatis
    Ulissiponam. Porro post mortem praedicti comitis Desmoniae nullus
    est in Hibernia qui agit bellum contra Reginam neque autumo fore
    postquam viderant comitem Desmoniae se suumque statum exspectando
    subsidium tanto tempore, ne se suumque statum similiter, deperdant
    quin potius tota Hibernia obtemperet Reginae. Proinde opus non
    erit posthac subsidio mediocri sed classi: quod Sua Sanctitas
    dignetur agere cum sua Majestate. Quod si transmittatur, statim
    universa Hibernia atque postmodum Anglia legibus sanctae matris
    ecclesiae subjicietur; brevior, aptiorque haec via quoque erit ut
    Rex Catholicus habeat Flandriam quietam sibique subjectam.

    “Ulissiponae, 7 Sept., 1584.

    “Sanctitatis V. filius,

    “atque addictissimus servus,


XI. The last and most important of Dr. O’Melrian’s letters is dated the
29th October, 1584. It is addressed to Cardinal de Como, and besides many
particulars connected with the Archbishops of Cashel and Tuam, and the
Bishops of Emly, Ferns, Ossory, Ross, and Limerick, we also gather from it
that our bishop, before his promotion to Killaloe, had held some other
see, probably that of Kilmacduagh:


    “Decem sunt anni elapsi ex quo Sua Sanctitas me creavit Episcopum:
    tamen postquam me contuli ad Hiberniam nullum ingressum habui ad
    meum Episcopatum qui occupatus a quodam Pseudo-Episcopo Reginae
    qui dumtaxat colligit reditus, minime gerens curam animarum,
    totoque hoc tempore neque ingressum unius diei in Episcopatum,
    neque obolum ex meis redditibus potui habere neque spero me
    habiturum nisi post mortem Reginae, aut nisi classis a S.
    Sanctitate et Majestate Catholica mittatur cum qua eo irem. Itaque
    hactenus cum Comite Desmoniae caeterisque nobilibus sibi
    adhaerentibus mansi in Hibernia in castris Catholicorum, me
    praebens ut decuit praeclarum exemplar omnium virtutum improbos
    labores et inediam sustinens, praedicando, exhortando, admonendo,
    severitatem aliquoties cum lenitate adhibendo in corrigendis
    vitiis, et persuadendo semper quae expediebant saluti hominum
    progressuique belli contra rabidissimos atque feroces Ecclesiae
    hostes Anglos. Placuit tandem comiti Desmoniae generali
    Catholicorum, caeterisque proceribus me mittere huc, fretum
    auctoritate Ambasciatoris ut cum Sua Sanctitate atque Majestate
    Catholica agerem de classe vel subsidio mittendo ad Hiberniam quod
    cum omni diligentia cum Sua Sanctitate litteris egi ut probe novit
    sua Dominatio Illma.; verbo voce et praesentia egi cum sua
    Majestate Catholica vixque extorsi naviculam unam cum armis et
    pecuniis, quae antequam appulerat Hiberniam, repererat comitem
    Desmoniae interfectum esse in bello, caeterosque suos dilapsos
    esse adeo ut mentio belli minime habebatur: tunc rursum idem
    subsidium rediit huc, quod ego integrum restitui ministris suae
    Majestatis Catholicae. Jam nihilominus solerter ago cum sua
    Majestate ut dignetur classem vel saltem subsidium mediocre
    mittere ad Hiberniam cum Domino Mauritio Geraldino consobrino
    comitis Desmoniae qui his diebus causâ implorandi subsidium tum a
    S. Sanctitate tum a Rege Catholico evolavit ex Hibernia huc.
    Vehementer etiam rogo suam Dominationem Illustrissimam ut dignetur
    agere cum Sua Sanctitate ut hinc subveniatur ac ut S. Sanctitas
    mox dignetur ea de re agere cum sua Majestate; quia iste est vir
    strenuus, nobilis et expertissimus in rebus bellicis, qui in bello
    hoc praeterito comitis Desmoniae nonnullas victorias principales
    habuit contra Anglos: Sua enim Sanctitas plurimum tenetur
    Geraldinis qui se suumque statum exposuerunt periculo semper
    perdendi in servitio Suae Sanctitatis. Caeterum sua Dominatio
    Illustrissima intelligat me hic Ulissiponae morari prope nova
    Hiberniae et sollicitando continue cum sua Majestate ut mittat
    subsidium alicujus momenti vel classem ad Hiberniam....

    “Creatio Episcoporum jam, nisi mittatur classis nedum est inutilis
    sed nociva quia hoc tempore aegre possunt creari atque prodesse in
    Hibernia vel in Anglia (praeter partes Ultoniae in Hibernia) quia
    utrobique non habent nisi latere et incedere vestitu saeculari vel
    militari strictis cinctisve gladiis et pugionibus sine tonsura aut
    corona, sine habitu clericali sine reditibus et obedientia a suis:
    et ita adhuc si convincantur episcopos esse poena capitis vel
    perpetui carceris plectentur et eorum parentes vel consanguinei
    apud quos versabantur secrete, omnia bona sua et terras per
    edictum Reginae fisco perdent....

    “Archiepiscopus Cashellensis gloriosissime et constantissime
    martyrium perpessus est Dublinae, qui quamvis acerrimis poenis
    agitabatur nullo pacto poterat duci, ut iniquis legibus Reginae
    obtemperaret; qui ex primo die quo se contulit ad Hiberniam in
    habitu saeculari (aliter enim non potuit) versabatur, donec erat
    comprehensus ut explorator, qui quidem cum erat percontatus si
    erat Ecclesiasticus necne, fassus est se Archiepiscopum esse et in
    fide constantissime et gloriosissime mortuus est. Sed, quod doleo,
    jam non publice sed secreto et sine plebe martyrio coronantur,
    quem ad modum iste archiepiscopus a tribus dumtaxat militibus erat
    suspensus ne alios incitaret aut inflammaret ad Christianam

    “Episcopus vero Imolacensis constans in fide carceribus Dublinae
    detinetur cui jam preparant ocreas plumbeas ut adhibito igne (quem
    ad modum fecerunt prius Archiepiscopo) in tormentis fidem deneget.
    Episcopus vero Feruensis, prius consentiens Anglis, poenitentia
    ductus ultro se obtulit pro fide qui jam teterrimis carceribus
    sine foramine lucis detinetur. Archiepiscopus Tuamensis non aliter
    erat in Hibernia quam in habitu saeculari, qui postquam rediit ad
    Hispaniam, diem clausit extremum. Thomas vero Ossoriensis
    Episcopus mansit in Hibernia aliquot mensibus in habitu saeculari,
    tandem contulit se ex Hibernia ad Hispaniam. Episcopus
    Limericensis et Episcopus Rossensis postquam venerant Roma in
    curia Regis Hispaniarum degunt.

    “Videat Dominus meus Illustrissimus quod horum Episcoporum creatio
    magis obest quam prodest, quamvis illic affirmarunt se posse
    prodesse; proinde alii non sunt audiendi qui petunt promoveri ad
    Episcopatus, quum obesse potius possunt quam prodesse. Valeat
    Dominus meus Illustrissimus in Christo Jesu.

    “Ulissiponae, 29 Oct. 1584.

    “Illustrissimae ac Reverendissimae Dominationis V.

    “addictissimus servus,


This is the last letter we have met with from the illustrious Bishop of
Killaloe, Dr. O’Melrian. His episcopate continued till 1617; yet the only
event recorded concerning him during this long interval is his having
examined the work of Stanihurst, _De Moribus et Rebus Hiberniae_, and on
the margin opposite each error his solemn condemnation was found marked
with the simple formula: _mentitur_ (_Hist. Cath._, pag. 121).

As regards the bishops of the Establishment, that of _James Curyn_, or
_Corrin_, seems to have been the first appointment made by King Henry
VIII. Some call him Bishop of Killaloe as early as 1529, during the
episcopate of Dr. Hogan; others date his appointment from 1539/40. At all
events it is probable he is the bishop that is referred to in the letter
of Dr. Browne to Lord Cromwell on 16th February, 1539/40, when he
complains that the Lord Deputy _in O’Brien’s country_ “deposed a bishop
who was promoted by the king’s highness, ... and he that the Lord Deputy
hath now promoted to the same is a Gray Friar (Dr. O’Kirwan), one of the
holy confessors of the late Garrantys, even as rank a traitor as ever they
were” (_State Papers_, iii. 123). Dr. Corrin resigned the see in 1546, and
Cornelius O’Dea was appointed by the king in July, the same year, and, as
Ware tells us, he held the see about nine years. The next crown nominee
was Moriertach O’Brien. Though appointed by Queen Elizabeth in 1570, he
was for a long time content with the enjoyment of the temporalities of the
see, and it was only in 1577 that he received episcopal consecration. John
Rider, the next Protestant bishop, was appointed in 1612: he is chiefly
remarkable for a Latin dictionary which he compiled, and in which he was
accused of taking both the substance and words from the Lexicon of Thomas


The name _Soul’s-friend_ (in Irish,) was a characteristic title used in
the old Irish language to designate those who are now called _confessors_,
whose mission it is to receive the confessions of the faithful and to heal
by the sacrament of penance, the spiritual wounds inflicted on the soul
after baptism. “Sure we are”, writes Usher, “that it was the custom of the
faithful in our ancient Church, to confess their sins to the priests, that
they might be made partakers of the benefit of the keys for the quieting
of their troubled consciences”—_Discourse on the Religion, etc._, p. 46.

Our old commentator, Claudius, more than once repeats this doctrine, and
teaches that the power of forgiving sins was granted by the divine
Redeemer to His apostles and their successors in the priesthood: “The
power of loosing and binding”, he says, “was granted to all the apostles
by our Saviour, when, appearing to them after His resurrection, He
breathed upon them, and said: Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whose sins you
shall forgive, they are forgiven, and whose sins you shall retain, they
are retained. Even to the present day this duty devolves upon the Church
in its bishops and priests, and having examined each sinner’s cause, they
absolve those whom they find humble and truly penitent, from the fear of
eternal death, but such as they find to persist in their sins, these are
bound down unto never-ending torments”—_In Matth. Codex Vatican._, fol.
149, b.

Elsewhere, expounding the history of the man who was sick with the palsy,
he remarks: “The scribes say truly that none can forgive sins save God
alone, who also it is that forgives through those to whom he has given the
power of forgiving”. And again, “St. John teaches us, in regard to the
remission of sins, that our Saviour after His resurrection promised to His
disciples that those shall be bound whom they shall bind, and those shall
be loosened whom they shall loosen”—_In Matth. ibid._, fol. 81, and
_Usher_, loc. cit., pag. 48.

The old penitential canons of our Church will serve as a practical
commentary on these texts of Claudius. Thus, in the synod held by our
apostle, together with Auxilius and Isernimus, about the year 450, we find
the canon:

    “A Christian who has committed murder, or fornication, or gone to
    a soothsayer after the manner of the gentiles, for every such
    crime shall do a year of penance: when his year of penance is
    accomplished he shall come with witnesses, and afterwards he shall
    be absolved by the priest”.(16)

St. Finnian too prescribes:

    “Si quis rixam faciat de clericis aut ministris Dei, hebdomadam
    dierum poeniteat cum pane et aqua et petat veniam a Deo suo et
    proximo suo, plena confessione et humilitate et sic potest Deo
    reconciliari et proximo suo”.(17)

The synodical canons _de Arreis_, in one decree declare as the substitute
for the penance of a year:

    “Tres dies cum mortuo sancta in sepulchro, sine cibo et potu et
    sine somno sed cum vestimento circa se, et cantatione psalmorum et
    oratione horarum per confessionem et votum sacerdoti”.

And in another case they enact a similar penance:

    “post confessionem peccatorum coram sacerdote et plebe post

The penitential of St. Cummian commands him who had innocently told an
untruth “to confess his fault to the person whom he deceived and to the
priest”.(19) Again, youths before their twentieth year committing certain
sins, were ordered for the first offence “having confessed, to do penance
for twenty days before they should approach the holy Communion”.(20)

St. Columbanus is even more minute in treating of this sacrament. Thus, in
canon the fourteenth, he lays down the penance for the sin of adultery,
and adds that this penance being performed by the sinner “culpa illius per
sacerdotem abstergatur”. Should his sin be a sin of desire, “Confiteatur
culpam suam sacerdoti et ita quadraginta diebus in pane et aqua
poeniteat”.(21) Special diligence, too, was to be observed when preparing
to approach the Holy Eucharist, and not only the heinous crimes, but even
the venial faults were to be confessed. “Confessiones autem dari
diligentius praecipitur, maxime de commotionibus animi, antequam ad missam
eatur, ne forte quis accedat indignus ad altare, id est si cor mundum non

In the ancient collection of canons made for the use of our Irish Church
about the year 700, there is one book (the 48th) entitled _de
Poenitentia_. The thirty-three chapters into which it is divided are for
the most part moral or disciplinary: as, for instance, the twenty-fifth
chapter, which enjoins that all penitents should receive _imposition of
hands_ from the priests during Lent, moreover, should carry the dead to
the place of sepulture, and there inter them, and, in fine, should present
themselves kneeling at all the functions of the Church from Easter to
Pentecost. There are, however, some incidental passages which beautifully
illustrate the idea entertained by our fathers of the necessity and
advantages of sacramental confession. Thus in the third chapter the words
of St. Augustine are adopted:

    “Why will the sinner seek to conceal what he committed in the
    presence of God? Why will he blush to confess those sins with
    which he did not blush to stain his own soul? Therefore, let him
    defray by confession what he has contracted by sinning; let him by
    satisfaction wash away the stains which defile his soul; let him
    by vigilance supply for his former neglect; let him for the future
    be a follower of Christ by virtuous deeds, as hitherto he had
    followed Satan by his sins; and he may rest assured that God will
    not punish him for those crimes which he has confessed”.

Subsequently it adopts the well-known passage from the Homilies of St.
Gregory the Great:

    “As the physician cannot apply his remedy unless he knows in what
    the malady of his patient consists, so cannot sins be healed
    without confession; for, with our heart we believe unto justice,
    but with our lips confession is made unto salvation. He who
    conceals his sins cannot be directed; but he who confesses them
    and relinquishes them all, will obtain mercy”—_Collect. Hib.
    Canonum_, xlviii. 3.

In the other fragments which are still preserved of our early literature,
we find many passages connected with the same great sacrament. Thus St.
Mochta, in his _Apologia_, amongst the other articles of faith, professes:
“Poenitentiam peccatorum plenissima fide suscipimus ac veluti secundam
gratiam suspicamur” (see _Essays on the Early Irish Church_, pag. 302);
that is to say, it is the only plank that remains to him after shipwreck.

Amongst the Irish MSS. preserved in the public library of Basle, in
Switzerland, there is one (Ff. iii. 15) which presents a curious form of
prayer to be observed by our clergy when administering the sacrament of
penance. We give it in full in its original language; the reader will
remark that it omits the form of absolution, for which it refers to _the
sacramentary_, and the words which we here enclose within parentheses are
written as rubric in the original manuscript:

    “Incipit ordo ad poenitentiam dandam.

    “Credis in Patrem et Filium et Spiritum Sanctum? _Respondet_:

    “Credis, quod istae tres personae, quo modo diximus, Pater et
    Filius et Spiritus Sanctus, tres sunt, et unus Deus est?
    _Respondet_: Credo.

    “Credis, quad in ista ipsa carne in qua nunc es, habes resurgere
    in die judicii et recipere sive bonum sive malum quod egisti?
    _Respondet_: Credo.

    “Vis dimittere illis quicumque in te peccaverint, Domino dicente,
    si non remiseritis hominibus peccata eorum, nec Pater vester
    coelestis dimittet vobis peccata vestra? _Respondet_: Dimitto.

    “(Et require diligenter; si est incestuosus, si non vult ipsa
    incesta dimittere, non potes ei dare poenitentiam: et si vult ipsa
    incesta dimittere, _fac eum confiteri omnia peccata sua_, et ad
    ultimum diecre.)

    “Multa sunt peccata mea, in factis in verbis et in

    (Tunc da illi poenitentiam et dic istas orationes super eum.)

    “Oremus. Praeveniat hunc famulum tuum _N._ Domine, misericordia
    tua, et omnes iniquitates ejus celeri indulgentia doleat. Per,

    “Oremus. Exaudi, Domine, preces nostras et confitentium tibi parce
    peccatis ut quos conscientiae reatus accusat, indulgentia tuae
    pietatis absolvat.

    “(Et caeteras, si tempus habueris sicut in sacramentario
    continentur. Si tibi non vacat, istae sufficiant. Et si homo
    ingeniosus est, da ei consilium ut veniat tempore statuto ad te
    aut ad alium sacerdotem in coena Domini et _reconcilietur sicut in
    sacvamentario continetur_. Quicquid manens in corpore consecutus
    non fuerit hoc est _reconciliatione_, exutus carne consequi non
    poterit. Si vero minus intelligens fuerit, quidquid ipse non
    intelligit in uno statu reconciliare, potes eum ita dicendo:)

    “Oremus. Praesta, quaesumus Domine, dignum poenitentiae fructum
    huic famulo ut ecclesiae tuae sanctae a cujus integritate deviarat
    peccando, admissorum veniam consequendo reddatur innocens. Per

    “(Si infirmus est homo, statim reconciliare eum debes.)”

Thus terminates this curious fragment of the ritual observances of our
early Church. Another Irish manuscript of the same library in Basle
contains a long penitential prayer, the language of which has a striking
resemblance with the prayers of St. Colgu and Aileran, already published
in the early numbers of the _Record_. It thus begins:

    “De conscientiae reatu ante Altare,

    “Domine Deus omnipotens, ego humiliter te adoro,

    “Tu es Rex Regum et Dominus Dominantium,

    “Tu es arbiter omnis saeculi,

    “Tu es redemptor animarum,

    “Tu es liberator credentium,

    “Tu es spes laborantium,

    “Tu es paraclitus dolentium,

    “Tu es via errantium,

    “Tu es magister gentium,

    “Tu es creator omnium,

    “Tu es amator omnis boni,

    “Tu es princeps omnium virtutum,

    “Tu es amator virginum,

    “Tu es fons sapientium,

    “Tu es fides credentium,

    “Tu es lux lucis,

    “Tu es fons sanctitatis,

    “Tu es gloria Dei Patris in excelsis,

    “Tu sedes ad dexteram Dei Patris,

    “In alto throno regnans in saecula.

    “Ego te peto ut des mihi remissionem omnium peccatorum meorum,
    Deus meus Jesu Christe.

    “Tu es qui neminem vis perire sed omnes vis salvos fieri et ad
    agnitionem veritatis venire.

    “Tu es qui ore tuo sancto et casto dixisti: in quacumque die
    conversus fuerit peccator, vita vivet et non morietur.

    “Ego revertor ad Te....

    “Ideo confiteor tibi Domine Deus meus, qui solus sine peccato es:
    et obsecro te, Jesu Christe, Deus misericordiarum per passionem et
    per effusionem sanguinis tui, atque per signum ligni salutiferi
    crucis tuae ut concedas mihi remissionem omnium peccatorum meorum,
    non secundum meum meritum, sed secundum magnam misericordiam

The “Rule for the Celi-De”, composed by St. Maelruan about the year 780,
reckons “_the divulging of confession_, so as to say, this is what the man
did”, as so heinous a crime “that it is not penanced in the land of
Erinn”.(23) It also contains several regulations connected with the
sacrament of penance. Thus, on the eve of the chief festivals, all
feasting is prohibited, “because of going under the hand to-morrow”. To
which words Dr. Reeves adds the following note: “The priest raises his
hand in the absolution, whence the modern expression _going under the hand
of the priest_ denotes going to confession” (pag. 202). Subsequently the
Rule enacts:

    “When they do not go to hand (_i.e._ to confession) on Sunday,
    they go on the Thursday after; it would be too long to wait till
    the Sunday following for the person who habitually goes to hand
    every Sunday, because these two days are always special with them
    at Mass.

    “It is not necessary to delay minute confessions of thoughts and
    idle notions, and abuse and anger, till Sunday, but to confess
    them immediately as they occur.

    “He who makes his confession to a _soul-friend_, if he performs
    the penance according to his directions, need not confess them to
    another _soul-friend_, but only what has subsequently occurred.
    Frequent confession is not profitable when the transgressions are
    frequent too”.

Some instructions are also given for the guidance of the confessor:

    “Difficult, indeed, is the duty of the _soul-friend_, because if
    he gives the proper remedy, it is oftener violated than observed;
    but if the soul-friend does not give it, its liability falls upon
    himself; because several are satisfied with making the confession
    without doing the penance; but it is better to proclaim their
    welfare to them, though they do not respond to the penance
    enjoined by the confessor. Another soul-friend may be gone to, if
    necessary, after the permission of the first soul-friend.

    “It is right to refuse the confession of a person who does not
    perform penance according to the soul-friend, unless there happens
    to be a soul-friend near, whom he considers more learned in rules,
    in the ways of the Scripture, and in the practices of the saints.
    Let him heed what he receives from the learned soul-friend whom he
    first met, to whomsoever he may reveal his confession each time,
    and let penance be enjoined him according to the rules of frequent

In fine, it is also decreed that the bishop “who confers noble orders upon
any one who is not able to instruct in religion and reading, and
soul-friendship, and who has not a knowledge of laws and rules, and of the
proper remedy for all sins in general, is an enemy to God and man; for
that bishop has offered an insult to Christ and His Church, and hence
shall do penance for six years, and he shall pay seven _cumhals_ in gold
as a penalty to God.(24)”

The Rule of St. Carthage (who was familiarly called _Mochuda_) has already
been published in full in the December and January numbers of the
_Record_. Frequent mention is made in it of the holy sacrament of penance,
and as St. Carthage died before the year 640, we are thus enabled to trace
back the Catholic tenets of our fathers even to the beginning of the
seventh century. At page 116, among _the duties of a priest_ is

    “If you go to give communion
      At the awful point of death,
    You must receive confession
      Without shame, without reserve.
    Let him receive your sacrament
      If his body bewails.
    The penitence is not worthy
      Which turns not from evil....
    If you be anybody’s soul-friend,
      His soul thou shalt not sell;
    Thou shalt not be a blind man leading the blind;
      Thou shalt not allow him to fall into neglect;
    Let them give thee their confession
      Candidly and devoutly”.

Whilst confession was thus enjoined on the faithful, it was not less
necessary for the religious themselves:

    “When you come unto the mass—
      It is a noble office—
    Let there be penitence of heart, shedding of tears,
      And throwing up of the hands, ...
    With confession of vices,
      When you come to receive”.

And again, when laying down special rules for monks, St. Carthage commands
them to exercise modesty and meekness:

    “With inculcation of every truth;
      With denunciation of every wickedness;
    With perfect frequent confessions,
      Under the directions of a holy abbot”.(25)

The testimony of these religious rules is of great importance: they not
only convey to us the teaching of individuals remarkable for their piety
and learning, but they moreover record for our instruction those
disciplinary enactments which received the solemn sanction of the greatest
saints of our ancient Church, and which guided in the paths of perfection
thousands of our countrymen whose virtues and miracles won for our island
a wide-spread fame for sanctity throughout the sixth and succeeding

We may now refer to facts connected with these sainted fathers of our
Church which throw much light on the practice of confession, from the
earliest period of faith in our island. Thus, of St. Adamnan we read that,
being troubled about some sin of his early youth “he resorted to a priest
from whom he hoped to learn the way of salvation, and confessing his fault
prayed for such counsel as might enable him to flee from the avenging
anger of God”.(26)

In the life of St. Columba, too, it is recorded that one day an Irishman
from Connaught, by name Ildran, landed on the beach of Iona and proceeded
to the guest-house of the monastery. On the following morning he made
known to the saint the object of his journey, viz.: to do penance for his
sins, and “at the same hour he confessed all his sins and promised to
fulfil the laws of penance”.(27) On another occasion St. Columba was
visited by a person named Fiachna, who, being touched with remorse for
some crime, fell at the saint’s feet and “confessed his sins before all
that were there present”, whereupon the holy man weeping embraced him, and
said, “Arise, my son, and be comforted; thy sins are forgiven thee, for,
as it is written, the contrite and humble heart God doth not despise”.(28)

In the case of a chieftain named Suibhne, it is mentioned that, though
truly penitent, he was ordered by St. Pulcherius to confess his sins.(29)
We find also St. Maidoc of Ferns earnestly soliciting to have a wise
confessor divinely destined for his guidance. St. Molua of Clonfert-molua
was the person chosen by him, and hence, amongst other titles given to
this last-named saint, is “Father of the Confession of Maidoc”.(30) Again,
in the life of St. Finbar it is mentioned that a young man from Leinster
went to Iona to be guided by Columba: being obliged soon after to return
to his native country, he thus affectionately addressed the holy abbot: “O
sancte Dei! quomodo in patria mea vivam et tibi confitear peccata

In the _Martyrology of Donegal_, St. Meallan of Loch Oirbsen, in
Connaught, is styled the _Anmehara_ of St. Furse, who since the middle of
the seventh century is venerated as patron of Peronne in France (pag. 40,
I.A.S., 1865). In the _Felire_ of Aenghus, St. Donnan of Eigg is also said
to have gone to St. Columcille “to make him his soul’s friend” (Reeves’
_Columba_, p. 305). This title of _Anmchara_ is given to the divine
Redeemer himself by St. Aileran, in the beautiful prayer printed in the
_Record_, pag. 64, and, as we have already said, was the name given by the
faithful in our early Church to those who in the Latin records are styled
_Confessarii_, or _Patres Confessionis_. The _Book of Fenagh_ in one of
its most ancient records states, that “Columba plus venit ad S. Kilianum
et ei confessus est peccata sua” (I.A.S. _Miscellany_, vol. i., pag. 118).
Of St. Finbarr it is also recorded that, on the death of his spiritual
director, he went to St. Olan to make him _patrem confessionis suae_, or
at least to be directed by him as to the person whom he should select; and
the legend adds that St. Olan replied: “Christ Himself will be your
confessor, and He will receive your hand”; meaning, probably, that the
hour of his death was come, for the next fact mentioned in St. Finbarr’s
life is his happy passage to eternity (_Life of St. Finbarr_, edited by R.
Caulfield. London, 1864, pag. 21).

Probus, in the life of our great Apostle (chap. 20), mentions that one of
the chief petitions which he made to God, during the time of his
penitential retirement on Croaghpatrick, was: “Ut unusquisque homo fidelis
Hibernorum per poenitentiam et confessionem Deo satisfaciens licet in
extremo vitae suae spatio, ab ipso elementer suscipiatur”. It was to
become sharer of this great privilege that St. Cormac, Bishop and King of
Cashel, baying foretold his death, summoned to him St. Macsuach, Abbot of
Castledermot, to whom he made his confession, and received from his hands
the holy sacrament of the Eucharist. (I.A.S. 1860. _Annals_, pag. 203).

The confession even of venial faults was especially dwelt upon by St.
Molua. One of his religious was negligent on this head, and St. Molua took
occasion to correct him by his own example. As they were journeying
together on a certain day, St. Molua said to him: “Peccavi vere hodie quia
confessionem alicui seniori non feci de his quae egi hodie: me igitur hic
sustine modicum donec vadam illuc et confitear”. The religious was struck
with terror, and asked “would it not suffice to confess these sins to God
alone?” but the saint replied that unless we confess even our venial
transgressions, we can only obtain pardon for them by severe penitential
deeds here and hereafter, and added the well-known illustration: “Sicut
pavimentum domus scopâ quotidie tergitur, ita anima quotidianâ
confessione”. The ancient life concludes; “Hoc audiens monachus a suo
sancto Abbate, promisit confiteri sua offendicula; et confitebatur
fideliter, et sanatus est ille frater a sua praeterita audacia” (_Vita ex
Vet. Cod. Armac._, edited by Fleming, cap. 32.)

There is only one document to which the enemies of our holy faith can
appeal as evidencing a disregard for the sacrament of penance in our early
Church: it is a letter of Alcuin, addressed, in the text of Canisius,
_dilectissimis viris fratribus et patribus __ in provincia Scotorum_, in
which he mentions the rumour which had reached him, that the laity had
refused “confessionem sacerdotibus dare”. Here (writes Dean Murray) is a
clear rejection of Popery. However, antiquarians have long since decided
that this text has no reference to sacramental confession (see Lanigan,
iv. 67): and as the good Protestant dean had given his citation from
Usher, he should have added that in Usher’s opinion the title of this
letter of Alcuin was erroneous, and that it was addressed to some faithful
quite distinct from our old Celtic forefathers. This opinion no longer
admits of any doubt. Canisius himself remarked “that in the MS. from which
he published this letter, it was addressed _de dilectissimis, etc. in
provincia Gothorum_”, and he merely substituted the word _Scotorum_, as a
conjecture, not knowing that there were any people in the days of Alcuin
who still retained the name of _Gothic_. Later discoveries, however, have
proved that the very province of Languedoc, in which territory Alcuin
lived for a long time, was designated by this name. The learned
Quercetanus discovered a letter of Alcuin himself (ep. 99), addressed to
the faithful “_in diversis Gothiae partibus_”; and Baluzius, in his
_Miscellanea_ (i. 377), published another letter of the same Alcuin, “_iis
qui sunt in Gothiae partibus_”. The errors of Felix Urgellitanus, which
are here referred to, fix more and more the district to which this letter
was addressed; for whilst they had begun to creep in amongst the faithful
of France, they were wholly unheard of in the Island of Saints.


    “Many a mile have I gone, and many did I walk,
    But never saw a holier man than Richard of Dundalk”.

    _Old Couplet._(32)

§ I. Introduction.

In all the habits of social life many of the early English settlers in
Ireland soon became more Irish than the Irish themselves. In the vigorous
tenacity of their attachment to the Catholic religion some of these
families have ever remained as Irish as the Irish themselves. Having made
our people their people, they became sharers in our grace of faith, so as
to keep ever since our God their God. To the Talbots and the Plunkets we
owe two great archbishops, whose figures stand out prominently even among
the illustrious band of prelates who fought the good fight in the days of
the persecutors. And as our Church reckons Anglo-Irish bishops among her
martyrs, so among her doctors who guarded and enriched the sacred deposit
of faith we may count Anglo-Irish prelates equally illustrious: and of
these the subject of the present notice offers a distinguished example. A
variety of great qualities, rarely united in one individual, gives a
singular attractiveness to the history of Richard Fitz-Ralph, Archbishop
of Armagh. Extraordinary holiness of life—of which proof remains not only
in the popular couplet at the head of this paper, and in the appellation
of St. Richard of Dundalk, by which he was known for centuries, but in the
stronger evidence of a Pontifical commission issued by Boniface IX. to
examine into his miracles with a view to his canonization;—rare
intellectual power exhibited in every branch of theology—erudition both
various and profound—eloquence of a high order, to which his sermons still
extant bear testimony; all these are qualities which, especially when
exercised under the trying vicissitudes of a great controversy within the
Church, could not fail to constitute a remarkable career. Of this career
we now propose to lay before our readers an outline as perfect as the
materials within our reach will allow us to sketch. We do so with the hope
that others, in whom better skill is backed by richer materials, may be
led to supplement from their store our slender contribution to the history
of an illustrious successor of St. Patrick.

§ II. The Fitz-Ralph Family: Richard’s Parentage.

Ralph, founder of the Fitz-Ralph family, held forty-nine lordships in
England in the reign of William the Conqueror. From this stem various
branches issued, and several families of Fitz-Ralphs were to be found in
the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. To which of these Richard belongs is
a matter of uncertainty. Prince, in his anxiety to enrol him among the
worthies of Devonshire, refers him to the Fitz-Ralphs of Widecomb in the
Moor, who, about the time of Edward I., changed their names and residence,
henceforth calling themselves Stillingford, from their new abode near
Exeter. But this is mere guess work. It is far more probable, in our
opinion, that he belonged to the Derbyshire Fitz-Ralphs, of which family
the Frechevilles and Musards of Staveley(33) became in after times the
representatives. Our reasons are these. Ralph (Musard) Baron Staveley, a
direct descendant of Ralph, the founder of the family, had a daughter
Margaret, who, on his death, became co-heir with her brother Nicholas and
her sister Isabella. Margaret married an Irishman, named in the pedigree
Joannes de Hibernia, and died in the year 1308. Three children were born
of this marriage—John de Hibernia, Ralph, and Alicia. Thus, we actually
have the heir of the Fitz-Ralphs born of an Irish father. As his mother’s
heir John de Hibernia was owner of the third part of the manor of
Staveley, and this property he gave and granted to Ralph de Frecheville,
The evidence taken at an inquisition held at Staveley, in 1316, asserts
that the said John “had no other lands in England”. This would lead us to
conjecture that he had lands in Ireland, and after this time the pedigree
no longer adds the words _de Hibernia_ to any of the Fitz-Ralphs. Now, it
is certain that Richard must have been born about this time; and although
the precise year of his birth is not known, the date of his promotion to
Armagh would allow him to have been the son of this John, or of his
brother Ralph. But, setting conjecture aside, one thing is proved beyond a
doubt, viz., that about the time of Richard’s birth the Fitz-Ralphs of
Staveley had a close connection with Ireland.

§ III. His Birthplace.

An almost universal tradition fixes his birthplace at Dundalk. According
to Wadding, the tradition was, that his parents came to Dundalk from the
well known territory in the north of Ireland, called _Ruta_, or the Route.
Wood states that almost all writers—_auctores pene omnes_—make him an
Irishman. This tradition is also clearly expressed in the appellation of
Richard of Dundalk, by which he was universally known. It was the custom
of the age to designate men by the name of their native place. Of this we
have an excellent example in the name of John Baconthorpius, or of
Baconthorpe, who, as we shall see, was Fitz-Ralph’s professor at Oxford.
Cotton, in his _Fasti_, tells us that “it has been contended, with some
appearance of truth, that this prelate was born in England”. He here
alludes to the opinion maintained by Rev. John Prince,(34) who considers
it probable that our prelate was born in Devonshire, adding, “some tell
us, that he was an Irishman, and born in the town of Dundalk in that
kingdom, and hence called by the name of Richard of Dundalk. Whereas, it
is possible he might be so denominated, not from his birth, but from his
long residence, or his doing some eminent exploit there, or from some
other like occasion there. Others say he was an Englishman, which is not
improbable, for these reasons: that he had his education at Oxford; that
he was chosen commissary of that university; that he was made archdeacon
of Lichfield; and that he was encouraged against the friars by English

These are the only arguments alleged to prove that Archbishop Fitz-Ralph
was born in England. They are of no weight whatever when compared with the
mass of testimony on the other side. 1.—The name of Richard of Dundalk
could not have arisen from the primate’s long residence in that town, for
he resided in his diocese only for about nine years, and certainly did not
spend all his time in Dundalk. 2.—Nor is it told in history that he
performed any eminent exploit here. 3.—It does not make against the Irish
origin of Archbishop Fitz-Ralph that he had his education at Oxford. It is
well known that at the beginning of the fourteenth century there were very
many Irishmen at Oxford. Bale gives the names of several most
distinguished Irishmen who flourished there at that period—in 1310,
Malachias Minorita; in 1320, David O’Buge of Kildare; in 1330, Gilbert
Urgalius, who, _consueto Hibernorum hominum more_, went to Oxford after
completing his rudimentary studies. Besides, among the _nations_ whose
contests in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries so often made Oxford
anything but a quiet abode of learning, the Irish had their place and
generally went with the Southernmen. And the Archbishop himself, in his
discourse at Avignon, relates how he had sent to Oxford four priests of
the diocese of Armagh. 4.—That the appointment of Richard as chancellor or
vice-chancellor of Oxford does not necessarily suppose him to have been an
Englishman, will appear from what we have to say farther on concerning
this office. 5—Nor was it strange that an Irish ecclesiastic should hold
benefices in England. Clement VI., in 1351, granted to John de Briane,
Dean of St. Patrick’s at Dublin, who held at the same time the parish of
Hatfield in Lincoln, permission to retain his benefices during his five
years’ course at a University.(35)

Summing up the evidence, we have, on the one hand, the almost universal
tradition that our prelate was born in Dundalk; we have an established
connexion between the Derbyshire Fitz-Ralphs and Ireland about the time of
his birth. On the other hand, against his Irish origin, we have no
argument stronger than mere probabilities, which, when examined, are found
to have no substance. We conclude, therefore, that Richard Fitz-Ralph was
born in Dundalk. This conclusion receives some confirmation from a
narrative in Fox,(36) where we are told that a copy of the entire Bible,
translated into Irish by Archbishop Fitz-Ralph, was found, many years
after his death, in the walls of his cathedral. Now, if this story be
true, and it is indirectly confirmed by Usher, it is plain that the
Archbishop must have been born in Ireland. It is hard to believe that nine
years, broken as they were by provincial visitations and other labours,
would have been sufficient to make an English prelate master of a language
so difficult as the Irish, and that to the degree of perfection requisite
for a translation of the sacred text.

§ IV. His Studies And University Career.

Richard Fitz-Ralph went to Oxford, and was entered of Balliol College
(then recently founded), where he remained until he had taken his degree
of Master of Arts. The statutes in force at that time required him to
leave Balliol. As soon as he received his degree in Arts, he accordingly
passed to what is now known as University College, but which after 1332
was called _Magna Aula Universitatis_, and which owed its origin to the
liberality of William de Durham, who dying in 1249, bequeathed a sum of
money for the benefit of ten or twelve poor masters. By a decision of
congregation in 1280, four masters, “whoever might be considered fittest
for promotion in Holy Church”, were to be chosen to enjoy these funds,
each master being entitled to fifty shillings sterling yearly for his
maintenance. The same document enjoins that the abovementioned masters,
living together, shall attend lectures on theology, and shall be able, at
the same time, to hear lectures on the decrees and decretals. As to their
way of living and learning, they shall behave as they are directed by some
fit and experienced men appointed by the Chancellor.(37)

His residence at Balliol gave him special opportunities to become
proficient in arts. The college had been endowed to enable sixteen
scholars to study in arts, each scholar receiving a yearly revenue of
twenty-seven marks. His residence in University College enabled him to
cultivate theology. Thus all the materials of knowledge then existing were
brought within his reach. At that date the course of studies had changed a
good deal from the ancient narrow limits of the Trivium(38) and
Quadrivium.(39) Out of the logic of the Trivium the new philosophy was
developed, and the sciences of the Quadrivium became mere preparatory
studies to the Facultas Artium.(40) It is mentioned by Tanner and others,
that Richard Fitz-Ralph attended the theological lectures of the famous
Carmelite John Baconthorpe. This remarkable man was one of the most
illustrious scholars of the day, and exercised a powerful influence on the
mind of his pupil. It has been observed, that when the latter had become
Archbishop of Armagh, and had entered upon his controversy with the
friars, he ever showed a marked affection for the Carmelites.

The early half of the fourteenth century was a season of much agitation in
philosophical and theological opinions. The ancient struggle between the
Nominalists and the Realists entered at this time upon a new phase. The
Realism of St. Thomas of Aquin was opposed by the Nominalism of Occam, and
Fitz-Ralph found Oxford still agitated by the controversies that master
had excited. The Franciscans were generally Nominalists; the secular
clergy, as a body, were Realists. The entire university was divided into
two opposite camps. The “Northern men” declared for Realism, the “Southern
men” for Nominalism.(41) Fitz-Ralph became a leading Realist, and the
marked divergence between his views and those of the Franciscans was
probably not without its influence on the controversy to which hereafter
we shall have occasion to refer.

How deep and how extensive were the studies of Fitz-Ralph shall best be
learned from the list of his works at the conclusion of this notice. It
will be enough for our present purpose to state here, that his labours
cover almost the entire field of Catholic controversy with the Greeks and
Armenians, as well as (by anticipation) with the Reformers. A remarkable
element in his writings, and one the presence of which reveals the form of
scepticism current in his age, is the contribution he has made to the
literature of the Christian Demonstration. He defends the Christian
religion against the Jews by contrasting the sacraments and ceremonies of
the New Law with those of the Jewish dispensation. This line of defence
was called for by the altered method of attack which the Jews about the
twelfth century began to employ against the Church. In the early ages the
controversy turned upon the question whether our Lord was the Messiah. In
the middle ages they had recourse to the scriptural defence of their own
position, and calumnious attacks on Christianity. It is not strange that
he should have combated Mahometanism. It should be borne in mind that the
age of Frederic II. had witnessed the birth of a strange admiration for
Mahometan literature; that Pope Gregory IX. had fought against this novel
danger; that against the Arabian Averroes and his philosophy St. Thomas of
Aquin himself had entered the lists. It is not surprising therefore that
the archbishop’s zeal urged him to provide a remedy for the evil by
proving that the Saracenic law itself confirmed the authority of the books
of the Old and New Testament.

Before 1333 he proceeded to his degree of Doctor of Theology.

§ V. His Preferments In England.

Ware(42) declares that Dr. Fitz-Ralph was made Chancellor of Oxford
University in 1333. On the other hand, Wood asserts in his history that no
record of this chancellorship exists either in the University or the
Episcopal archives. However, the same Wood admits him to have been
Commissarius of the university in that year, or, as we may describe it,
vice-chancellor. Is there any way by which these different statements may
be reconciled? It appears to us that an attentive consideration of the
various phases through which the office of chancellor of Oxford has passed
will supply a very probable solution of the difficulty.

First of all, we must bear in mind that Oxford was not at that time the
seat of a bishop, but was included within the diocese of Lincoln. Next, we
should consider that even during the course of the fourteenth century the
chancellor was an episcopal officer, not an academical one; he represented
the ordinary of the diocese, and from him drew all his jurisdiction and
authority. As the university grew in importance and extent, the position
of the chancellor, as a power extern to the university, became untenable,
and by degrees, the nomination to the office passed from the hands of the
bishop to those of the academicians.(43) For a time the bishop struggled
to retain at least the right of confirming the election, but in the course
of the fourteenth century even this claim was abandoned. The period
1300-1350 forms, therefore, a peculiar epoch in the history of the Oxford
chancellors, marking as it does the transition period between the
chancellors who were episcopal officers, and the chancellors elected by
and out of the university. Now this transition was not effected suddenly,
but almost by way of compromise: there was no sharp separation between the
two classes of chancellors; the one gradually merged into the other. We
should therefore expect to find some confusion in the list of chancellors;
the bishop’s chancellor being considered as the legitimate chancellor by
those who sided with the bishop, whereas the academicians would naturally
look up to their own nominee. Now it is quite certain that Richard
Fitz-Ralph, master of theology, was appointed Chancellor of Lincoln on the
6th of July, 1333, for the appointment is entered under that date on the
register of Bishop Burghers. We may conclude, therefore, either that as
Chancellor of Lincoln he was Chancellor of the University, as the
episcopal officers before him had been, or that his appointment having
fallen upon a time of some dispute about the nomination of the chancellor,
he was styled _commissarius_ only, or that the story of his Oxford
chancellorship took its rise from the fact that he was chancellor of the
bishop in whose diocese Oxford was situated. According to some authors, he
was also Archdeacon of Chester. But he was certainly Dean of Lichfield, at
least from 1337, and held this office until his appointment to Armagh.
Wood relates that shortly before his own time the first window on the
northern side of the choir of Lichfield cathedral contained a picture of
Richard Fitz-Ralph clothed in his sacerdotal vestments, and above the
following inscription: _Richardus Radulphi filius, Armachanus, Hujus
Ecclesiae Decanus._



As at this season many pious Christians visit the Purgatory of St. Patrick
in Lough Derg, for the performance of penitential works, we have been
requested to supply, from authentic sources, a history of that pilgrimage.
In compliance with this request we give the following account of it,
extracted from Dr. Moran’s _History of the Archbishops Of Dublin_, where
he treats of Dr. Fleming.(44) That Archbishop writing on the 20th of
August, 1625, to the Internuncio in Brusselles, makes the following

    “The pious and innumerable pilgrimages of the faithful this year
    are a pledge of great fervour; for, like bees to the beehive, so
    do they daily flock in such numbers from every corner of the
    kingdom, for penitential purposes, to a certain island, which is
    called the Purgatory of St. Patrick, and which is situated in the
    centre of a lake, that many have been obliged to return without
    satisfying their pious desire, there being no room for landing on
    the island. This pilgrimage, though, through the bitter
    persecutions of heresy, it has been almost abandoned for many
    years, was once so celebrated throughout the Christian world, that
    many from the most distant parts even of the continent visited it
    in a spirit of devotion. The manner of performing the pilgrimage
    as it is now observed from ancient tradition, is as follows:—Each
    person, from the day he arrives in the island till the tenth
    following day, never departs from it. All this time is, without
    intermission, devoted to fasting, watching, and prayer. If they
    wish to give rest to their body they must sleep on the bare
    ground, and for the most part under the broad canopy of heaven.
    They receive but one refection, and that consists of bread and
    water. It is incredible what severe austerities and bodily
    mortifications females, as well as men, and persons of every age
    and of every condition, endure, whilst they perform this
    penitential course; and during twenty-four hours they are shut up
    in certain caves, like unto prisons, where they pass the whole day
    and night entirely absorbed in prayer, and receiving nothing to
    eat or to drink.

    “I have thought it well to mention this fact, for, I am sure, your
    excellency will be rejoiced to see that the natives of this
    island, by this so great and so unparalleled an impetus of
    devotion, seek to appease the anger of God; and we may confidently
    hope, that by their fervour He will be appeased, who listens to
    the prayers of those who have recourse to Him in their

    The contemporary, Messingham, describes the course of penance
    performed in the island somewhat more in detail than has been
    already given in the letter of Dr. Fleming. “During the nine days
    of the pilgrimage”, he says, “a rigorous fast was observed on
    oaten bread and the water of the lake. The pilgrim was first
    conducted barefooted to the church of St. Patrick, around which he
    moved on his knees seven times inside, and seven times outside,
    repeating all the while stated prayers of the Church. He was then
    conducted to the seven places of station, known as _lecti pœnosi_,
    which were formerly small churches, or sanctuaries, dedicated to
    various saints; and at each of these he repeated the visit as
    above. The next station was around a cross in the cemetery, and
    subsequently at another cross that was fixed in a mound of stones.
    Thence he proceeded, _over a rough and rocky path_, to a spot on
    the border of the lake, to which tradition pointed as the place on
    which St. Patrick had knelt in prayer. Here, also, certain prayers
    were appointed to be recited. All this pilgrimage and prayer was
    repeated three times each day—morning, noon, and evening—during
    the first seven days; on the eighth day it was repeated six times;
    confession and communion followed on the morning of the ninth day;
    and then the pilgrims entered the cave, where twenty-four hours
    were devoted to fasting and meditation. Any that choose not to
    enter the cave, passed these twenty-four hours in solitude at one
    of the former stations”.(45) The seven _lecti pœnosi_ were
    dedicated to SS. Patrick, Brigid, Columba, Brendan, Molaisre,
    Catherine, and Dabeoc, who was the patron of the place. During
    Catholic times there was an elegant church in the centre of the
    cemetery, and, besides other relics, it possessed some of our
    glorious apostle. This church, with the seven cells, or smaller
    churches, was still standing at the time of Peter Lombard, who
    adds, that “the English deputy did not dare to prevent the
    pilgrimage or profane the place”.(46) He also describes the cave
    as “situated a few paces to the north of the church, being a
    narrow building, roofed with stone, which could contain twelve,
    or, at most, fourteen persons, kneeling two and two.(47) There was
    one small window, near which those were placed who were bound to
    read the breviary”.

    “This solitary island was looked on as a place which had been
    chosen by saint Patrick for retreat and silent prayer, and for
    exercising those deeds of penance for which his whole life was so
    remarkable. Hence it derived its name of Purgatory, or place of
    Penance, of St. Patrick.(48) But whilst it was thus for the
    inhabitants of Ireland a chosen retreat of prayer and penance, its
    fame on the continent assumed another form. With the troubadours
    it became a favourite theme. Calderon immortalized it in Spanish;
    in Italy, it attracted the attention of Dante and Ariosto; and
    many popular tales about St. Patrick’s Purgatory are still extant
    in French and Portuguese. It thus became a matter of romance; and
    poetical imagination conducted the penitents who visited the
    Island of Lough Derg, at first to the regions of Purgatory, and
    subsequently to the abodes of the blessed or of the damned.

    “On the dawn of the so-called Reformation, Protestant writers
    seized on these poetic tales as if they were matters of sober
    fact, and availed themselves of the fictions of romance to cast
    ridicule on the practices of Catholic piety and devotion. For some
    time, indeed, they did not dare to offer violence to the pilgrims,
    who hastened thither with unabated fervour. During the reign of
    James I., however, the chapels or oratories on the island were
    demolished; but this did not satisfy the fury with which the
    enemies of the Catholic faith assailed its sanctuaries and
    shrines. Enraged at the numbers who, despite their threats,
    continued to flock to this penitential retreat, the lords
    justices, in 1632, made a last effort to desecrate ‘the holy
    island’. After publicly announcing that, in the opinion of the
    Papists, there was a passage from this island to the other world,
    and an entrance to the realms of Purgatory, they gave orders to
    have the whole island dug up, and that especially no portion of
    the cave should remain undestroyed; and thus, says Dr. Mant, was
    made known ‘the imposition of the Irish clergy’. But we should
    much rather say, thus did the predecessors of Dr. Mant reveal to
    the world the blindness of their bigotry, and afford a new
    instance of the frenetical fury, by which alone they were guided,
    in upturning the sanctuaries of Catholic devotion. Borlase, in his
    reduction of Ireland,(49) mentions this sacrilegious act, and
    adds, that ‘St. Patrick’s Purgatory was discovered to be a mere
    illusion, a little cell hewn out of a rock, no confines of
    Purgatory or Hell’.(50) Boate, too, in his _Natural History_ (p.
    44), gives some further particulars; as he states that it was on
    the 13th of September, 1632, that the order of the lords justices
    was carried into execution, and that the religious who had it in
    charge were driven from the island, their monasteries being
    demolished, and the cell itself broken open; ‘in which state’, he
    adds (writing in 1660), ‘it hath lain ever since’.

    “In the Antistitis Icon, or Sketch of the Life of Dr. Kirwan,
    bishop of Killala, written by John Lynch; the learned archdeacon
    of Tuam, and first printed in 1669,(51) we have a faithful
    description of the penitential severities of this place of
    pilgrimage, and of the true motives which impelled the fervent
    faithful to flock thither in such numbers:—

    “ ‘That he (Dr. Kirwan) might not be wanting in any species of
    piety, he reverenced in his soul the custom of undertaking
    pilgrimages. Nor was he satisfied with visiting such places in
    Connaught as were consecrated by the sojourn of the saints, and,
    above all, the rugged mountain called _Cruagh Padrick_, which he
    was wont to frequent, often ascending its steep sides, a thousand
    paces in height, and there staying, according to usage, on the
    very summit, which is covered with large stones, and creeping on
    bended knees over the rough rock fragments, which struck one with
    horror, not to speak of the danger of yawning chasms and
    precipices; but often, too, did he go into Ulster, to the
    far-famed _Purgatory of St. Patrick_, in which the pilgrims are
    wont to abstain from meat for nine days, using no food, save a
    little bread, and water from the lake. During one of the nine
    days, they are shut up in the dismal darkness of a cavern, and,
    therein fasting, partake of nothing save a little water, to
    moisten their throats when parched with thirst. At noontide and
    evening, they go on bended knees over paths beaten by the feet of
    saints, and strewn with sharp stones. In other quarters, they walk
    barefooted over rugged ways, in the olden time frequented by holy
    men, to satisfy for their transgressions. Sometimes walking and
    sometimes on their knees, they advance to a considerable distance
    into the sea. Thus do they spend the day, pouring out their
    prayers to God, and listening to holy discourses; nor in this
    sacred place is there to be seen or heard anything scurrilous or
    ludicrous. When night comes on, they lie down, not to enjoy
    repose, but to snatch a few moments’ sleep; their beds are of
    straw, nor do they use any pillow but their garments. Thrice each
    day did Francis, with the other pilgrims, punctually perform these
    duties, and, in addition, he diligently applied himself to hearing
    confessions and preaching sermons’.(52)

    “The nuncio Rinuccini, in the report of his nunciatura, made to
    the Holy See on his return to home in 1649, mentions how anxiously
    he had desired to snatch from the hands of the heretics the
    _far-famed Purgatory of St. Patrick_; and he adds: ‘The devotions
    of this deep cave are of great antiquity, though their first
    origin is uncertain. It is agreed, that the saint chose that spot
    for his holy retreats; and the visions(53) with which he was there
    favoured by God, were well known, and approved of by succeeding
    generations. At present, the fury of the Calvinists has levelled
    everything with the ground, and filled up the cave; and as thus
    they destroyed every vestige of the spot, so do they seek to
    cancel every trace of its memory. It seemed to me that my mission
    from Rome should embrace this, too, as one of its special objects,
    and I would have been, in part, content, could I have re-planted
    the cross on that island. But I was not blessed with the
    fulfilment of this design’.(54)

    “Despite, however, all the efforts of the Puritans, it continued
    to be a place of resort for pilgrims from every quarter of
    Ireland; so much so, that in the second year of queen Anne, the
    parliament once more enacted, ‘that, whereas the superstitions of
    popery are greatly increased and upheld by the pretended sanctity
    of places, especially of a place called St. Patrick’s Purgatory in
    the county of Donegal, and of wells to which pilgrimages are made
    by vast numbers, ... be it enacted, that all such meetings be
    deemed riots and unlawful assemblies, and all sheriffs, etc., are
    hereby required to be diligent in executing the laws against all

    “In the year 1714, Dr. Hugh M’Mahon, bishop of Clogher,(55)
    presented to the Sacred Congregation a Relation of the diocese
    entrusted to his care, and amongst other things, he details his
    own experience of the place of penitential resort which we have
    been describing. He had visited it disguised as a merchant from
    Dublin; for, even then, a bishop incurred great risk were he
    publicly recognized; and he describes in detail each particular of
    its penitential course. From his description we may conclude, that
    some changes had been introduced in its ritual since the time when
    Lombard and Messingham penned their commentaries. We shall give
    the extract in full in a note, as it has never before been

    “About forty years later, the Purgatory of St. Patrick was visited
    by another eminent prelate of our Irish Church, Dr. Thomas De
    Burgo, who, in his _Hibernia Dominicana_, has recorded his
    impressions on visiting that far-famed sanctuary. ‘So great’, he
    says, ‘are the penitential deeds performed there, that they
    exceed, in my opinion, those of any other pilgrimage in the
    universe’;(57) and he adds: ‘Non quae audivi, sed quae vidi
    refero; mihi enim feliciter contigit, insulam ipsam sanctissimi
    Patritii habitatione et miraculis consecratam, praeclarumque
    austeritatis primorum ecclesiae saeculorum praebentem exemplar,
    invisere anno 1748’.

    “As regards the relations of the Holy See with this place of
    devotion, we learn from the Bollandists, that, in 1497, the cave
    was destroyed by order from Rome, in consequence of its being
    represented to the Pope as _an occasion of shameful avarice_, by a
    monk from Holland, who had visited it, attracted by its
    wide-spread fame, and yet saw there none of the wonderful visions
    which he had heard so often described.(58) The Ulster Annals also
    commemorate this destruction, but state that it was occasioned by
    its not being the true cave hallowed by St. Patrick.(59) The
    proper lessons for the feast of the Purgatory of St. Patrick were
    inserted in the Roman Breviary, printed at Venice in 1522, but
    were expunged by order of the Holy Father, in the next edition, by
    the same printer, in 1524. The nature of the devotion was
    subsequently explained to the Holy See; and we are informed by
    Messingham, that indulgences were attached to its penitential
    exercises before the close of the sixteenth century.(60) When Dr.
    M’Mahon wrote his Relatio, the term of the indulgences granted by
    pope Clement X. had just expired. A little later, the cardinal
    archbishop of Benevento, who was subsequently raised to the papal
    chair as Benedict XIII., made the Purgatory of St. Patrick the
    theme of one of his homilies to his flock; and since that time
    this devotion has been ever cherished and encouraged by the
    sovereign pontiffs.

    “In the Annals of the Four Masters, and other ancient records,
    mention of pilgrimages to this island seldom recurs. It was a mere
    matter of private devotion, and did not precisely fall within the
    province of history. In the sixteenth century, we learn from the
    Bollandists, that it was sometimes visited by 1,500 persons at the
    same time.(61) Dr. Fleming tells us how such numbers flocked to it
    in 1625, that many had to return without finding room to land upon
    the island. Nor since then has its celebrity decreased; and we
    find that, before the famine years of 1847, this sanctuary was
    annually visited by no fewer than 10,000 pilgrims.(62) At the
    present day the average number of daily pilgrims, during the
    _station months_, is very considerable, and the total annual
    number is estimated at several thousands.

    “Besides the many accounts of this Purgatory, published more as
    matters of romance(63) than history, there are several valuable
    treatises which deserve attention. Not only Lombard and
    Messingham, in the works already alluded to, but the Bollandists
    (17 March); Dr. Lanigan (vol. iv. p. 290, seqq.); Colgan, in his
    _Trias Thaumaturga_ (p. 27); and Feijoo, the celebrated Spanish
    critic, in his _Theatro Critico_ (tom. vii. p. 157), give several
    important facts, together with many judicious remarks concerning
    this venerated sanctuary of Lough Derg. The valuable notes of Dr.
    Matthew Kelly to the first volume of _Cambrensis Eversus_ (pp.
    138-155), throw much light on the subject. See also, a very rare
    treatise, entitled, _A Brief History of St. Patrick’s Purgatory_,
    written by the Rev. Cornelius Nary, parish priest of Michan’s, and
    published in Dublin in 1718.”


We purpose in this number of the _Record_ to answer a few practical
questions connected with the office of the dead, which have been forwarded
to us:

1. Is it proper for the president of the choir to wear the alb and
cincture during the recitation of the office of the dead—the matins and

2. Should he wear stole and cope, or either?

3. Is it correct to say the Requiem aeternam after the prayer at lauds
when the Mass follows?

4. is it proper for the priest who presides in the choir to perform the
absolution after Mass?


1. It is not proper for the president of the choir to wear the alb and
cincture at matins and lauds. There is a decree of the Sacred Congregation
of Rites which appears to bear on this subject.

The question proposed was:

    “Dubium LXI. Juxta Rituale, dum in officio dicuntur laudes:
    sacerdos cum ministris paratur ad celebrandam missam solemnem pro
    defuncto. Exinde autem oriuntur dubia de modo concludendi laudes:
    nempe 1o Ubi sunt duo vel plures Presbyteri, alius debetne
    concludere Laudes dum celebrans qui officium inchoavit paratur in
    sacristia? 2. Ubi unicus est Presbyter debetne iste relinquere
    officium Laudum sine Praeside et adire sacristiam ut paretur ad
    missam et deinde opportuno tempore redire in Chorum, vel ante
    Altare, alba, cingulo, et stola indutus ut concludat Laudes?

    “Ad LXI. Affirmative ad primam partem. Quoad secundam debet
    concludere laudes et postea sacristiam petere ut sese vestiat pro
    Missae celebratione. Die 12 Augusti, 1864”.

It is evident from this decree that the vestments are not to be worn at
the office of the dead, for they are not allowed even in a case which
would appear one of necessity, viz.: when there is only one priest
present, and when some delay must necessarily occur between the office and
the mass, if the celebrant must wait to say the prayer at the end of Lauds
before he puts on the vestments. If in such an extreme case, when there
arises some delay between the office and mass, which is most objectionable
and always to be avoided in ceremonies, the alb and cincture cannot be
worn, they cannot surely be used on ordinary occasions when such necessity
does not exist.

2. With regard to the second question, the Roman Ritual does not prescribe
even the use of a stole or of a cope, as far as we are aware, and we think
that the practice of not wearing one or the other at the office is the
most correct and to be recommended, though we are well aware that the
contrary practice is adopted by many. The Roman Ritual, treating of the
procession in which the remains are carried to the church, has the
following words:

    “Parochus indutus superpelliceo et stola nigra vel pluvali ejusdem
    coloris, clerico praeferente crucem et alio aquam benedictam ad
    domum defuncti una cum aliis procedit”.

But these words do not apply to the office. The Caeremoniale Episcoporum,
treating of the ceremony on All Souls’ Day, does make mention of the stole
and cope (book ii., chap. 10, n. 10):

    “Haec ut dixi servantur si ipse episcopus sit in his vesperis aut
    matutinis officium facturus; sin minus posset manere cum cappa in
    choro in loco suo et Canonicus hebdomadarius paratus pluviali
    nigro supra Rocchetum vel cottam aut saltem stola nigra faceret
    aut diceret omnia praedicta”.

The words of the _Caeremoniale_ gave rise to the following question
proposed to the Sacred Congregation of Rites: “An in officio defunctorum
celebrans inducre debeat stolam vel saltem possit, uti erui posse videtur
ex Caeremoniali lib 2o. cap. 10.

“_Resp._ Negative extra casum in caeremoniali contemplatum. 7 Septembris,

There is another decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites referring to
this matter:—

    “Dubium LVIII. An sacerdos qui juxta Rituale, superpelliceo et
    stola indutus praefuit clationi corporis debeat retinere stolam
    dum praeest matutino et Laudibus quae immediate sequuntur? Saltem
    si in hac Functione utatur Pluviali, quum in eo casu non possit
    deponere stolam quin per aliquantis Pluviale exuat?

    “Ad LVIII. In utroque casu licere. Die 12 Augusti, 1864”.

We may observe that a direct answer is not given to the question, which
was proposed with the view of ascertaining what should be done in two
special cases, and the only answer given was “in utroque casu licere”.
Hence a priest might wear the stole and cope, but should he not do so, he
would not follow a course at variance with this decree. No doubt, in some
rubrical works, express mention is made of the stole and cope, and still
more frequently of one or the other; but the Roman Ritual, as we said,
does not prescribe either at the office of the dead, and when their use is
pointed out, it generally refers to the cathedral churches, where the
ceremonies are carried out with greater pomp and solemnity, than in those
rural churches to which our correspondent refers. We may also observe that
the decree above quoted, does not contemplate the use of the stole and
cope apart from the procession. On the whole, considering the
circumstances of our churches, we would in practice dispense with stole
and cope at the office, while we would be slow to condemn the use of the
cope, if such a custom existed in any church that in other respects
carried out the ceremonies of the Church with accuracy and decorum. But we
consider that the decree of 7th September, 1850, above quoted, clearly
lays down that the stole ought not to be used, though we find it more
frequently used on such occasions than the cope, on the ground, perhaps,
that it is an emblem of jurisdiction in the person who presides.

3. In reply to the third question, we beg to say that the Mass should
commence immediately at the end of the lauds, which terminate with the
prayer, and after the prayer, the Requiem aeternam, etc., and Requiescant
in pace should not be said: it is only when the ceremony concludes that
these are to be said.

    “In fine Laudum dicta oratione, non adduntur versus Requiem
    aeternam, nec Requiescant, sive sequatur Missa sive hac omissa
    statim procedatur ad absolutionem, quia hi versus, qui deserviunt
    in ultimum vale defunctis, sunt in fine precum reservandi”.(64)

The prayer at the end of Lauds on such occasions should be said cum
conclusione brevi. We give the following extracts from Cavalieri, a
distinguished rubricist, who writes, in tom. 3, cap. 2, decr. 16, n. 13:—

    “In Rituali oratio ponitur _cum conclusione brevi_, sed hoc ideo,
    quia supponit, quod non ibi terminetur officium, sed continenti
    filo pergatur ad exequias: quare ut ponatur concordia Rituals
    inter et Breviarium, quod longiorem notat conclusionem,
    concludendi orationes haec erit regula; quoties una tantum dicitur
    oratio, et ibi terminatur officium, conclusio sit integra; brevis
    vero quando sequantur exequiae, seu absolutio ab tumulum, sive
    haec fiant praesente vel absente corpore sive diebus 3. 7. 30.,
    anniversario, vel alio officio quolibet. Confirmatur ex Rubricis
    Breviarii Romani trium Ordinum S. Francisci, quae approbatae
    fuerunt a Pio VI. an. 1785. In die Commemor. omnium Fidelium Def.
    additur haec annotatio: _Conclusiones (orationum in officio pro
    defunct.) longiores adhibentur semper, quando unica dicitur
    oratio; nisi statim sequatur Missa de Requiem, vel absolutio ad
    tumulum; tunc enim dicitur conclusio brevis._

    “(2) Cavalieri, _ib. n._ 14. quia Rituale, terminata oratione sub
    brevi conclusione, non subdit versiculos _Requiem aeternam_, sed
    statim transit ad Missam, et quatenus haec non sit dicenda, ad
    orationem _Non intres_, nec dubitamus, quod praedicti versiculi
    taceri debeant, quoties post Defunctorum officium sequitur Missa
    de requiem, aut absolutio ad tumulum. Tunc enim ex hujusmodi
    officiis fit unum veluti continuatum, unde versus illi, qui
    deserviunt ad dandum ultimum vale Defunctis, sunt in fine precum
    reservandi. Huic doctrinae conformis est praescriptio Rubricarum
    in praedicto Breviario Fr. S. Francisci. Loco cit. dicitur: _Duo
    autem Versiculi (Requiem aeternam, et Requiescant) post orationem
    omittuntur, si statim sequatur Missa de Requiem, vel Absolutio ad

With regard to the fourth question the Roman ritual is quite clear.
“Finita Missa sacerdos deposita casula seu planeta et manipulo accipit
pluviale nigri coloris”.... It is always laid down that the celebrant of
the Mass, unless the bishop be present, performs this part of the
ceremony. The _Caeremoniale Episcoporum_, cap. 37, lib. 2o, has the
following words, which we here quote:—

    “Aliquo die non impedito infra octavam Defunctorum arbitrio
    Episcopi, Canonicus aliquis, seu dignitas Ecclesiae Cathedralis
    celebrabit Missam pro animabus omnium Episcoporum et Ecclesiae
    Cathedralis Canonicorum defunctorum cum paramentis nigris et
    caeremoniis prout supra dictum est, cui Missae Episcopus praesens
    erit cum cappa et in fine si voluerit, poterit, immo debebit
    deposita cappa et accepto pluviali absolvere, prout dicitur capite

    “Quod si Episcopus hujusmodi Missae praesens non erit, vel
    absolvere nequiverit, celebrans finita Missa, accedet ad cornu
    Epistolae altaris, ubi in plano, deposita planeta et manipulo
    accipiet pluviale nigrum et stans in dicto cornu Epistolae versus
    ad altare expectabit finem responsorii”....

It is evident from all this what answer is to be given to the fourth
question, viz.: that in all cases the celebrant, and no other priest,
should give the absolution when the bishop is not present.


_Adjamenta Oratoris Sacri, seu, Divisiones, Sententiae, et Documenta de
iis Christianae vitae veritatibus et officiis, quae frequentius e sacro
pulpito proponenda sunt_, collecta atque ordine digesta opera Francisci
Xaverii Schouppe, S.J. Brussels, Goemare, pp. 543. 1865.

From the materials here collected and prepared by Father Schouppe, the
preacher may build his discourse with ease and advantage. And yet, though
the materials are placed ready to his hand, the work will still be all his
own. The author does not undertake to supersede labour, but to lighten the
preacher’s fatigue by lending his friendly help. He supplies matter for
the discourse, he even traces the outline of its form, and then leaves to
the preacher himself the task of construction. In the opening pages he
addresses himself to the question, _how is a priest, especially a young
priest, to render himself a useful and even a perfect preacher of the Word
of God?_ In answer to this question, he touches in a masterly way on these
two points, 1. What is a preacher of the Gospel, and what is the
perfection that belongs to him? 2. By what process may a preacher attain
to this perfection? Part of this process consists, of course, in the
preparation of the sermon, and it is to facilitate this preparation that
the work before us has been compiled. The author reduces to fifty heads
the entire cycle of subjects suited for pastoral exhortation, embracing in
this number whatever can serve to bring the sinner to justification, to
guide him in the path of a Christian life, and to conduct him to Heaven.
He gives on each of these fifty subjects a treatise which is a marvel of
brevity and fulness. So judicious is the arrangement of the texts bearing
on the subject; so clear and full the statement of the case; so simple the
division of the arguments, that each of these little treatises makes the
reader complete master of the subject of which it treats. On the more
important subjects, and on those which require more frequent handling, the
author supplies many and different divisions or outlines of sermons, thus
guarding against the monotony that arises when a subject is presented
often under the same form. One other merit we would signalise in this
work. It deals with the wants, defects, and vices of the men of our own
times. The books of sermons which are to be found on the shelves of the
clergy generally belong to an extinct period; the exhortations they
contain are coloured by circumstances that have long ceased to exist.
Modern modes of thought, modern manners, modern literature, have given
rise to a peculiar class of temptations and of dangers, and as these
differ quite from those of a century ago, so also do they demand peculiar
treatment and special remedies.

Father Schouppe has not forgotten this, and takes care to grapple with the
difficulties that beset the Christian life of the nineteenth century. Two
indexes close the volume. One exhibits a general synopsis of the contents;
the other refers to the various passages whence materials may be drawn for
a sermon appropriate to the gospel of each Sunday and holiday in the year.
Both indexes enhance the practical value of this excellent book, which we
do not hesitate to call a real boon for the clergy.

_The Cromwellian Settlement of Ireland._ By John P. Prendergast, Esq.
London: Longmans, 1865.

This is a valuable accession to Irish history. It gives an account of the
cruelties practised on our people in the Cromwellian Confiscations. It
confirms, from official sources, the painful details contained in Dr.
Moran’s lately published sketch of the persecutions of the Irish Catholics
in the seventeenth century. The Irish land question cannot be well
understood without the aid of Mr. Prendergast’s excellent book.


_    1 Milton’s Prose: A Lecture delivered in the Museum of Irish
      Industry, St. Stephen’s Green, by the Right Hon. Judge Keogh_: The
      Irish Times, June 1, 1865.

    2 We print the words of the judge as we find them, though it seems
      irreverential, not to say worse, to compare a regicide, and a man
      who denied the divinity of Christ, to the apostle of the nations.
      Though Milton was gifted with the highest natural powers, yet, not
      having the qualities of a true Christian, he was only like sounding
      brass or a tinkling cymbal.

_    3 Works of Samuel Johnson_: Dublin, 1793, vol. v., p. 72.

    4 The _Works of John Milton_. London: Bickers and Bush, 1863: vol. iv.
      pp. 411, 412.

    5 It is entitled _A Treatise of True Religion, Heresy, Schism,
      Toleration, and the best means to prevent the growth of Popery_.

    6 “As for tolerating the exercise of their [the Catholic] religion, I
      answer, that toleration is either public or private; and the
      exercise of their religion, as far as it is idolatrous, can be
      tolerated neither way; _not publicly_, without grievous and
      insufferable scandal given to all conscientious beholders; _not
      privately_, without great offence to God, declared against all kind
      of idolatry, though secret”—_Milton’s Works_, already quoted, vol.
      v. p. 413.

    7 See Bayle; _Dictionnaire Historique et Critique_: art. Milton, note
      o; also _Johnson’s Works_, vol. v. pp. 95, 96.

_    8 Quarterly Review_, October, 1825, p. 446.

    9 Milton’s Works, Bickers and Bush; vol. iv. p. 428.

   10 See the _Edinburgh Encyclopædia_, articles “Copernicus”, and

   11 See _The Martyrs of Science_, by Sir David Brewster; or the
      _Edinburgh Review_, July, 1844, p. 173.

   12 See _Martyrs of Science_; or the _Edinburgh Review_, July, 1844, p.

   13 It is singular that the sufferings of Irish Catholics should meet
      with more sympathy from an English Protestant clergyman than from an
      Irish Catholic lecturer. The relations between our country and “our
      glorious deliverer” are thus described by the Rev. Sidney Smith:—

      “The war carried on in Ireland against King William cannot deserve
      the name of a rebellion: it was a struggle for their lawful prince,
      whom they had sworn to maintain, and whose zeal for the Catholic
      religion, whatever effect it might have produced in England, could
      not by them be considered as a crime. This war was terminated by the
      surrender of Limerick, upon conditions by which the Catholics hoped,
      and very rationally hoped, to secure to themselves the free
      enjoyment of their religion in future, and an exemption from all
      those civil penalties and incapacities which the reigning creed is
      so fond of heaping upon its subjugated rivals.

      “By the various articles of this treaty, they are to enjoy such
      privileges in the exercise of their religion as they did enjoy in
      the time of Charles II.; and the king promises, upon the meeting of
      parliament, ‘to endeavour to procure for them such _further
      security_ in that particular as may preserve them _from any
      disturbance_ on account of their said religion’. They are to be
      restored to their estates, privileges, and immunities, as they
      enjoyed them in the time of Charles II. The gentlemen are to be
      allowed to carry arms; and no other oath is to be tendered to the
      Catholics who submit to King William than the oath of allegiance.
      These and other articles _King William ratifies for himself, his
      heirs and successors, as far as in him lies, and confirms the same,
      and every other clause and matter therein contained_.

      “These articles were signed by the English general on the 3rd of
      October, 1691; and diffused comfort, confidence, and tranquillity
      among the Catholics. On the 22nd of October, the English parliament
      excluded Catholics from the Irish Houses of Lords and Commons, by
      compelling them to take the oaths of supremacy before admission.

      “In 1695, the Catholics _were deprived of all means of educating
      their children, at home or abroad_, and of the privilege of being
      guardians to their own or to other persons’ children. Then all the
      Catholics were disarmed, and then _all the priests banished. After
      this_ (probably by way of joke) an act was passed to _confirm_ the
      Treaty of Limerick,—the great and glorious King William totally
      forgetting the contract he had entered into, of recommending the
      religious liberties of Catholics to the attention of
      Parliament”—_The Works of the Reverend Sidney Smith._ London:
      Longman and Co., 1854, pp. 272, 273.

_   14 The Life of Milton._ By the Rev. John Mitford: prefixed to his
      Works. London: Bickers and Bush. Vol. i. p. cxlvi.

_   15 Ib._, p. cxliii.

   16 Ap. _Usher_, _loc. cit._, p. 47: _Villaneuva Synod. S. Patricii_, p.

_   17 Poenitentiale_, can. 5.

_   18 De Arreis_, § 3 and § 4.

_   19 Poenitent._, v. 12.

_   20 Ibid._, ii. 16.

_   21 Poenitentiale_, can. 14 and can. 23.

_   22 Poenitentiale_, can. 30.

_   23 Curry MSS._ § 60; and Dr. Reeves on _The Culdees_, pag. 209.

   24 Reeves, loc. cit., pag. 202, seqq. The _cumhal_ in the Latin
      documents is expressed by _ancilla_. Its literal meaning is
      _bondmaid_, whose equivalent was reckoned at three cows. See
      O’Donovan, _Book of Rights_, page 139.

   25 Page 173.

   26 “Accedens ad sacerdotem a quo sibi sperabat iter salutis posse
      demonstrari confessus est reatum suum”, etc.—Bede, _H. Eccl._, iv.

   27 “Eadem hora omnia confessus peccata leges poenitentiae flexis
      genibus se impleturum promisit”—_Vita S. Columb._, ii. 39, _edit.
      I.A.S._, p. 157.

_   28 Ibid._, p. 59. See also lib. i. cap. 17, p. 46.

   29 Vita S. Pulcher, _alias_ Mochoemogue, who lived in the seventh
      century, cap. xix., ap. Colgan, p. 592: “Videns eum vir Dei
      visitatum verâ poenitentia, ait ei: confitere peccata tua et esto de
      caetero fidelis in omnibus”.

   30 See _Martyrol. of Donegal_, p. 211, and _Vita S. Maidoc_, cap. xx.,
      and liv. ap. _Colgan_, p. 208, seqq. St. Dubthach of Armagh is also
      famous in our annals as being the “chief confessor of Ireland and
      Albany” (Colgan, _Tr. Thaum._, p. 298); and St. Gormgal of Ardoilean
      is similarly eulogised by the Four Masters, ad. an. 1017. _Conf.
      Colgan, Act. SS._, p. 141.

_   31 Vita_, cap. 22, _Tr. Colgan_, p. 353; Reeves’ _Columba_, p. 213,
      note _k_.

   32 This couplet is quoted by Prince in his _Worthies of Devon_ from
      _Paul_ Harris, c. 5, p. 88, who thus introduces it, “of whose
      (Fitz-Ralph’s) sanctity the common people of Ireland by ancient
      tradition were wont to chaunt this distich”. In the loose papers
      prefixed to the _Martyrology of Donegal_, the verses are quoted from
      _Henry_ Harris in _Apolu_. This false reference has led Dr. Todd
      into a slight mistake, vide _Martyr. of Donegal_, App. to Int. p.

_   33 Collectanea Topographica et Genealogica_, vol. iv. London, 1847.
      Pedigree of the Frechevilles and Musards.

_   34 Danmonii Orientales Illustres, or the Worthies of Devon._

   35 Theiner, _Monumenta_, p. 296-594.

_   36 Martyrol. Angl._, tom. i. p. 296.

   37 Huber, _English Universities_, vol. i., p. 438, Newman’s edition.

   38 Grammar, logic, and rhetoric.

   39 Arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music.

   40 Huber, _English Universities_, vol. i. p. 53.

   41 Huber, note xx. p. 408, vol. i.

_   42 De Presulibus Hib._, pag. 20-21.

   43 Huber, vol. i. page 132.

   44 For this reason we have enlarged the present number by a
      half-sheet.—EDD. I. E. R.

   45 “Messingham, p. 95. See also Carve, who in his _Lyra_ (edition of
      1666), p. 112, gives a plate of the Insula Purgatorii S. Patricii;
      and adds:—‘Certum est magnam olim hac in peninsula apparuisse
      devotionem in qua etiam varios viri sancti circulos seu cavernas
      maceriis introrsum circumdatas condiderunt; atque in iisdem
      corpuscula sua jejuniis, orationibus, aliisque disciplinis assidue
      domantes, auxiliumque divinae gratiae sine intermissione implorantes
      ac insuper Deum pro communi ecclesiae bono, conservandaque inter
      omnes Christianos vera concordia convenienter deprecantes’.”

   46 “_Commentar._, p. 277.”

   47 “Rothe apud Messingham states, that only nine persons were usually
      admitted into the cave.”

   48 “It is matter of dispute amongst our hagiologists, whether the St.
      Patrick, from whose deeds of penance this island acquired its fame,
      was our apostle, or another subsequent saint of the same name.”

   49 “_The Reduction of Ireland to the Crown of England, with the
      Governors_, etc., London, 1675, p. 207.”

   50 “Had he taken the trouble to open the writings of Peter Lombard or
      Messingham, he would have seen that the limits of the cell were well
      known, and that _the confines of Purgatory or Hell_ existed only in
      the distempered imaginations of the persecutors themselves.”

   51 “This valuable work has been republished, accompanied with an
      elegant translation and notes, by Rev. C. P. Meehan (Dublin, 1848).”

   52 “_Ibid._, 61-63.”

   53 “The poetical descriptions of ‘the Purgatory’ abound with fanciful
      visions. We shall give a real one from a MSS. Relatio of the diocese
      of Waterford, made by Dr. Patrick Comerford, on 16th Oct, 1632:—‘In
      dioecesi Corcagiensi est quidam Anglus qui (ut a multis fertur)
      biduum vel triduum mortuns revixit, et cum ante obitum esset
      Calvinista, statim atque revixit abjuravit Calvinismum et publice
      soepius declaravit se vidisse in inferno Lutherum et Calvinum et
      proinde neminem salvari posse qui eorum dogmatibus adhaereret; hinc
      excitati Protestantes eum iu carcerem detruserunt’.”

   54 “_Nunziatura_, p. 414.”

   55 “He was appointed in 1707, bishop of Clogher, and, in 1715, was
      translated to Armagh. The Collections on the Church History
      erroneously mark his appointment to Clogher in 1708, and his
      translation to Armagh in 1709.”

   56 “ ‘In septentrionali plaga hujus dioecesis Clogherensis, situs est
      locus ille celeberrimus vulgo dictus Purgatorium S. Patricii in
      parva insula circumdata lacu, quo ab initio Junii usque ad finem
      Augusti confluunt ex omnibus regni partibus etiam remotissimis
      quotannis omnis aetatis et conditionis milleni viri et mulieres
      ibique conficiunt novenam semel in die solo pane avenaceo et aqua
      victitantes, ac humi cubantes nudis pedibus semper, et non raro
      offendiculo cruentatis: ter de die varias stationes visitant per
      asperum iter acutis stratum lapillis cujus magna pars aquis ultra
      genua excedentibus obtegitur, donec nona die, pracmissa generali
      confessione, omnibus vitae noxis expiatis, sacro pabulo refecti ante
      diluculum ingrediuntur subterraneam foveam quae purgatorium dicitur,
      ibique viginti quatuor horis continuis semper vigiles et orantes
      sine ullo cibi aut potus refrigerio perseverant et recurrente eadem
      hora egressi sequenti die se ter immergunt algidis aquis sicque
      perficitur peregrinatio cui otiosi fabularum fabricatores malta
      commenta addiderunt de spectris ac visionibus quae nusquam comparent
      nisi in vitiato cerebro comminiscentium; tribus mensibus, quibus
      durat haec peregrinatio ab aurora ad meridiem celebrantur missae,
      excipiuntur confessiones, fitque concio bis terve de die ad populum
      qui uberrimis lachrymis, gemitibus aliisque poenitentiae signis cum
      clamore editis concionantem frequenter interrumpit; tantaque
      misericors Dominus asperam hanc et plane austeram peregrinationem
      interioris gratiae suavitate accumulat ut qui antea videbantur
      obdurati, vitiorum sordibus immersi acerrimos compunctionis stimulos
      sentiant, nec contenti semel aut iterum accedere ad insulam, reperi
      in dioecesi qui quatuordecim vicibus peregrinationem perfecerunt.
      Non leve huic devotorum fervori addidit incrementum a SSmo D. N.
      Clemente visitantibus concessa indulgentia plenaria quae brevi
      expirabit et renovatione opus habet. Non absimile prodigio censetur
      apud omnes quod peregrinatio haec primo loco et nominatim lege
      parlamentaria sub gravissimus poenis prohibita, nullam vel certe
      raram patiatur remoram a circumhabitantibus et alias supra modum
      malignis Calvinistis Scotis. Et cum ipso accederem sub nomine
      mercatoris Dublinensis (nam sub hujusmodi negotiatoris aut artificis
      involucris latere necesse habent communiter Praelati et non
      registrati sacerdotes), ministellus illius districtus satis
      humaniter me excepit. Dum alibi per totem regnum ingruente
      persecutione cessant functiones ecclesiasticae in hac insula quasi
      in alio orbe posita, liberum fit et publicum exercitium quad divinae
      providentiae hunc locum speciali favore protegenti gratum referunt
      et meritis S. Patricii. Cum ibi essem haereticus Anglus fama loci et
      curiositate movente eo accessit qui exemplo poenitentium compunctus
      haeresim abjuravit. Praeter caeteros ecclesiasticos eo accedentes
      strenuissimam navant operam Patres Franciscani. Unum in haec
      peregrinatione deprehendi usum, ne dicam abusum; nam nona die foveam
      ingressuri audiunt Missam, quae semper est de Requiem, seu
      defunctorum applicata pro iisdem ingredientibus, quasi jam mortuis
      mundo, et tradendis sepulturae; quad cum vellem abrogare saltem
      diebus Dominicis et festivis praesertim majoribus, quibus dicenda
      est missa conformis officio obtenditur immemorabilis possessio et
      consuetudo in contrarium, ut fort traditio, ab ipso S. Patricio
      primitus instituta quod a viris doctis et timoratis constantissime
      assertum me perplexum reddidit et propterea humillime rogo edoceri
      ad Eminentiis Vestris quid desuper agendum censeant.’ ”

   57 “_Hib. Dom._, p. 4, not. 6. The same learned writer justly remarks,
      that it was from the severity of its penitential exercises that this
      island derived its name:—‘Locus iste luendis peccatorum poenis
      destinatus _purgatorium_ dicitur, non quidem posthumum, sed vitale
      seu viatorium in praesenti vita’.”

   58 “_Bollandists_, March 17, p. 590.”

   59 “From this, we might, perhaps, conclude, that the cave thus
      destroyed was not the present sanctuary visited by pilgrims, but was
      situated on one of the other islands of Lough Derg. In the Ordnance
      Map, the site of some such deserted cave is marked on the adjoining
      island, known as Saints’ Island.”

   60 “Messingham, _Florileg._, p. 125.”

   61 “_Boll._, March 17, p. 590.”

   62 “See notes to _Camb. Evers._, vol. i. p. 146.”

   63 “Amongst these we must reckon the narrative inserted in his _Hist.
      Cath. Hib._ by O’Sullevan Beare, pp. 18-30. The Work on St.
      Patrick’s Purgatory, published by Mr. Wright (London, 1844), is a
      mere display of blind bigotry, by which he seeks to identify the
      teaching of the Catholic Church with the romances about this
      Purgatory of our saint.”

   64 Vide P. J. B. De Herdt, Sacrae Liturgiae Praxis, tom. 3, part 6, no.
      32. A very useful work, printed in Louvain in 1855.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Irish Ecclesiastical Record, Volume 1, July 1865" ***

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