Friday, April 18, 2008

The Saints of Ireland

Naoimh na hÉireann



Ireland has been known as the Island of Saints and Scholars. In the early years of Christianity here there was no formal way of attributing sainthood. Some of our greatest saints including the patrons of Ireland, Sts Patrick, Brigid and Columcille (Columba), were not canonised as saints are today. Their sainthood was aclaimed by the people.

Towards the end of the first millenium the Church, in her wisdom, decided to regularise the making of saints and instituted the process of canonisation. According to this procedure the number of Irish Saints declined rapidly principally because the canonisation was always processed in Rome and that was a very great distance away.


Canonisation is a formal declaration in accordance with Church Law (Canon Law) that a person may be venerated publicly by the church.


The process of canonisation is a long, arduous and bureaucratic one and the criteria are difficult to meet. There are however several stages along the way to give those who seek the canonisation of an individual. These include the titles Servant of God, Venerable, Blessed and finally Saint.



There are five Irish Saints who have been canonised. Two are from the archdiocese of Armagh, one from the Archdiocese of Dublin and one who was Bishop of Salzburg in present day Austria.


St Maolmaodhóg Ó Mordha (Malachy)
- Archbishop of Armagh, introduced the Cistercians into Ireland, replacing the native Irish monastic institutions many of which had become currupt. He died in the arms of St Bernard of Clairveaux who wrote his biography and said some not very complimentary thing about the Irish in the process. He was canonized by by Pope Clement III in 1199
St Lorcán Ó Tuathail (Laurence O'Toole)
- Archbishop of Dublin at the time of the Norman Invasion. He worked strenuously for peace and died exausted from his labours in Eu, France where he is also venerated. He was canonised in 1227 by Pope John XIX.
St Feargal (Virgilius) of Salzburg
- Vergilius (Virgilius) of Salzburg, born about 700 in Ireland; died 784 November 27 in Salzburg, was an early astronomer and bishop of the Diocese Salzburg. He was canonized by Pope Gregory IX in 1233.
St Oileabhéar Pluincéad (Oliver Plunkett)
Archbishop of Armagh and Martyr. Executed at Tyburn in London during the Reign of James I of England (VI of Scotland). Victim of Titus Oates' "Horrid Popish Plot".
He was canonised by Pope Paul VI in 1975
St Charles of Mount Argus
- Although a native of the Netherlands, Fr Charles spent the most of his life in the Passionist Provence of Ireland at their Dublin monestary at Mount Argus. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1988. He was canonised by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007.


Blessed Tadhg MacCarthaigh (Thaddeus Machair or McCarthy)
- beatified by Leo XIII in 1895. Bishop of Cork


The Blessed Irish Martyrs (17)
These are a representative number of martyrs from the times of the persecution of the Church in Ireland from the time of Henry VIII up to the end of the 18th Century. These are:


    Dermot O'Hurley - Archbishop of Cashel.
    Margaret Ball - arrested by her son who was mayor of Dublin. Native of Co Meath
    Mathew Lambert, Robert Myler, Edward Cheevers, Patrick Cavanagh and two others - Known as the Wexford Martyrs
    Patrick O'Lochran - a priest from Co Tyrone
    Conor O'Devany - a Franciscan, Bishop of Down & Connor
    Francis Taylor - a former Lord mayor of Dublin
    John Kearney - a Franciscn priest from Cashel
    William Tirry - an Augustinian Priest from Cork
    Patrick O'Healy - A Franciscan bishop from Co Leitrim
    Conn O'Rourke - from the old Gaelic aristocratic family of Breifne
    Dominic Collins - a Jesuit brother from Youghal, Co Cork
    Maurice MacKenraghty - Chaplain to the Earl of Desmond, from Limerick
    Terence Albert O'Brien - A Dominican, Bishop of Emly, from Limerick
    Peter Higgins - a Dominican, Prior at Naas, Co Kildare, from Dublin

They were beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1992.

Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice - Widower, Christian Educator. Founder of the Presentation Brothers and of the Irish Christian Brothers. Born in Callan, Co Kilkenny, died in Waterford 1844. Beatified by Pope John Paul II in October 1996.


Blessed Columba Marmion Joseph Marmion was born in Dublin and ordained as a priest of the Diocese in the late 19th Century. After serving as a curate in Dundrum he joined the Benedictines ar Maredsous in Belgium and was elected Abbot in 1909. He is well known for his extensive spiritual writings, especially "Christ, the life of the Soul," which have been translated widely. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II 3rd September 2000.



Venerable Edel Quinn (d 1944)- Envoy of Legion of Mary in East Africa - - Servant of God


There are a number of people whose causes are being investigated. These include the following

d - foundress of the Sisters of Charity - Servant of God