Saturday, 31 July 2010

Communion Cloth or Paten?


One often hears about the communion paten and how it protects the sacred particles. The optional use of the communion paten for a long time has been a source of distress to many, and one of the accusations is that it leads to irreverence against the Sacred Particles.

Bearing that in mind (not totally without merit), I found this article, written in 1917 quite interesting as it examines it from that perspective, espousing the opposite view. I, at least, somehow expected it to support the "protect and preserve the Particle" view, so it was quite surprising in that regard.

The Congregation of Rites would later rule in 1922 and 1929 that the use of the communion cloth was obligatory and could not simply be replaced by the paten. This remained in force until 1962 when the rubrics of the Missal only mentioned the paten and not the cloth, leading to a disagreement as to whether the cloth was mandatory any longer.

The issue of purification that the author raises is quite interesting: in all the Catholic (ordinary rite) churches I have visited, the communion paten has always been used. In India it was purified over the priest’s chalice or into the ciborium and here it is purified over the finger bowl.

Some of the author’s arguments may definitely seem to have flaws - for example, the handling of a paten - IMO he seemingly presumes it to be consecrated, and there is nothing that forbids the handling of unconsecrated patens. But nonethless, the article is very interesting.

Omnibus quidem Ecclesiae Catholicae sacramenta religiose sancteque tractandis magna ac diligens cura adhibenda est : sed praecipue in administrando ac suscipiendo Sanctissimae Eucharistiae Sacramento, quo nihil dignius, nihil sanctius et admirabilius habet Ecclesia Dei ; cum in eo contineatur praecipium tt maximum Dei donum, et ipsemet omnis gratiae et sanctitatis fons auctorque, Christus Dominus.
Rituale Romanum, Tit. IV, cap. I, n. I.


If all the sacraments, which were instituted by the Divine Redeemer, are holy beyond question, with what supreme care and reverence is the Blessed Eucharist especially to be administered and received! While ever insisting on this, the Church has varied her discipline in regard to the manner of administering Holy Communion. It is not our purpose to speak of Holy Communion under both Species. The early Christians received the Blessed Eucharist standing, as does the celebrant at present, the left hand supporting the right and constituting, as it were, a throne for the King of Kings, since the Sacred Particle was placed in the palm of the communicant, who conveyed it reverently to the mouth. This custom of placing the Sacred Species in the hand afforded Tertullian, Chrysostom, Ambrose, and others a forceful argument in urging Christians to keep their hands free from idolatry, murder, rapine, extortion, and other vices, since those hands must touch the Body of the Lord.

Men continued to receive the Body of Christ in the bare hand, while before the close of the sixth century women in some places covered the hand with a white cloth. This practice among women does not seem to have been ancient or universal. Confusion in this matter arose among historians owing to the twofold meaning of the word dominicale, the use of which by women was insisted on by the Fathers and various councils. Dominicale in most cases was a covering for the head which women, in keeping with the rule of the Apostle, were obliged to wear at divine service ("ad dominica"), but was misunderstood as signifying a napkin or veil with which the hand was covered in receiving Holy Communion.

The Greek Fathers are silent in regard to any custom of covering the hand in receiving Holy Communion, while the censure of the Trullan Synod would apparently apply to linen, as well as to other materials. This council, famous in history, which was held in Constantinople in 692, reprehends in canons 100 and 101 the custom which had sprung up of receiving the Sacred Particle, not with the hand, but on a disc or plate of gold or other costly material. The council insists that man, or his hand, is more precious than fine gold.

How long the custom of giving the Blessed Eucharist into the hands of communicants prevailed cannot be precisely determined. St. Gregory the Great (Dialogus III, c. 3.) asserts that Pope Agapetus (535-536) placed the Sacred Particle in the mouth of a certain dumb and lame man. The express mention of the Blessed Sacrament being placed in the mouth would indicate that the general practice was otherwise. A council held at Rouen, the date of which is placed at 650 by some, by others at about 880, strictly prohibited priests from placing the Eucharist in the hands of any person, male or female, prescribing that it be put in the mouth : "Nulli autem laico aut foeminae Eucharistiam in manibus ponant (presbyteri), sed tantum in os ejus." This rite of placing the Sacred Species on the tongue, which probably originated in a desire to protect the Blessed Sacrament from profane or superstitious uses, became in time the universal rule of the Church. It is impossible, however, to state with any degree of certainty when the rite of placing the Host on the tongue of communicants became general. It seems to have been practically so in the tenth century, though there are not wanting at a much later period isolated examples of the old regime.

The Church, ever mindful of the sanctity of the Blessed Sacrament, has never been wanting in guarding the same. From the very beginning precautions were taken to prevent the Sacred Particles from falling to the floor. Tertullian and other ancient writers mention the use of a plate or paten (scutella, tabella) in receiving the Blessed Eucharist. Modern liturgists, however, are of the opinion that this plate was employed by the faithful not at Holy Communion, but in carrying the Sacred Species to their homes. The tradition of the Roman Church points to the use of a linen cloth (not metal of any sort) at Holy Communion. The purpose of this cloth was to receive the Sacred Particles which might fall from the hand of the priest. The present regulations of the Church embody the Roman practice of old. The Missal requires that a linen cloth or white veil be extended before those who are to receive Holy Communion : "Interim minister ante eos extendit linteum, seu velum album." The Ritual insists on a clean linen cloth for this purpose: "et ante eos linteo mundo extenso." Neither is the Caeremoniale Episcoporum silent on this point, as it demands a white cloth ("mantile album") for Communion. Let us add in passing that the Pontificale in the rubrics for the ordination of a priest (singular form) speaks of a mappula to be used at the Communion of the newly ordained. Positive law then, as well as the usage of centuries, requires that the laity in receiving Holy Communion hold a linen cloth between themselves and the ministering priest. Custom tolerates a card or small square of linen, instead of a cloth, at altars where communions are not numerous or frequent.

But what is the precise purpose of this linen cloth or card? The Church nowhere expressly defines for us her intention in this matter. We must consequently resort to reasoning, if we would ascertain her purpose. It is certain that the linen cloth was introduced to catch the whole Host or a considerable part of it, were it to fall from the priest's hand. But was it intended likewise to receive under similar circumstances the minute and scarcely discernible particles that might become detached from the Host ?

We believe not, and for the following reasons. What does the Church prescribe in regard to the care of the communion cloth or card when not in actual use? Nothing, absolutely nothing. The cloth usually remains attached to the sanctuary railing, while the card is left on the credence table. This has ever been the custom in Rome and elsewhere. Not the slightest indication is found in any rubric, nor is there given by any liturgist a suggestion that the communion cloth or card should be purified no hint that the minute particles that may have lodged thereon are to be specially cared for. If the purpose of the cloth or card were to preserve these minute particles, the Church would have determined specifically the place and manner of caring for it.

Centuries have elapsed since this linen came into use. The practice of leaving it unpurified, attached to the sanctuary railing or on the credence table, is universal. The Church has never insisted on any special attention being shown it. Liturgists, authors, writers are equally silent on this matter, though they are most specific in regard to the reverence due to the Blessed Eucharist, and the diligent care necessary in administering the Sacred Species. Must we not conclude that the purpose of the communion cloth or card is not to receive atoms or minute particles that are barely visible? Accept the contrary opinion, and nothing is left except to accuse the Church (God forbid!) of irreverence toward the Adorable Body of Christ, as well as of inconsistency: of irreverence, since she would thus tolerate the loss of Sacred Species; of inconsistency, since she would, in the hypothesis, be solicitous of gathering on the card or cloth these minute particles, and then entertain no further thought of them. Granted that fragments from the consecrated Host do fall on the communion cloth, we contend, we must contend, that the Church does in this matter what is proper or fitting, and omits or does not do what is improper or unfitting. A rock of wisdom, a universal and wise teacher, she could not do otherwise. It is fitting that the Church should zealously care for the whole consecrated Host or any considerable portion of it: hence the linen cloth. It is unfitting that she should be over solicitous for dust-like atoms that are scarcely discernible; unfitting, we hold, not on account of the particles in themselves, since we believe with the Angelic Doctor tantum esse sub fragmento quantum toto tegitur, but because of the difficulty of distinguishing them and consequently of attributing to them proper adoration.

We do not deny that small particles from the consecrated Host may, or even do, fall on the communion cloth, but this is not a frequent occurrence, when the hosts are properly made and the fragments removed therefrom before they are placed in the ciborium. We do maintain that not any great number of the atoms found on the communion cloth are Sacred Species. Did you never see a dense column of atoms dancing in the sunbeams that penetrated the sanctuary ? Though not always visible they are always present. If not all, at least nearly all, the particles on the communion cloth come from the floor, the air, the clothing, the head ("ne dicam de naso et de ore") of the communicants. Who can distinguish the Sacred Species from this foreign matter? Shall we adore particles of dust and dandruff? The Church does not demand what is impossible or improper. How wise she is in not conceding adoration to doubtful or uncertain objects!

There are, however, certain rubrics that pertain to the care of fragments of the Sacred Host. Thus in the Missal we read: "Accipit (celebrans) patenam, inspicit corporale, colligit fragmenta cum patena, si quae sint in eo : patenam quoque cum pollice et indice dexterae manus super calicem extergit et ipsos digitos, ne quid fragmentorum in eis remaneat." Note the words "inspicit corporale, colligit fragmenta, si quae sint in eo." The purifying of the corporal is not strictly speaking prescribed. The corporal is to be examined. If any particles are noticed, they must be gathered up with the paten. Fragments or particles of the Sacred Species, not starch or lint from the corporal, are to be put into the chalice. Excessive solicitude in looking for particles on the corporal is not necessary. It would open the way to scruples, were it required.

The paten, on the contrary, must be carefully purified, as well as the fingers that have been employed in so doing. In this there is nothing impossible, nothing unfitting. Recall that the paten is cleansed with the purificator after the Pater noster, immediately before the Host is placed upon it. There is question here consequently neither of extraneous matter nor so much of atoms from the circumference of the Host, but rather from the broken or divided Host which has rested on the paten. Small particles may have become detached from these rough edges.

Again, a rubric of the Missal says : "Si Particulae positae erant super corporale, extergit (celebrans) illud cum patena, et si quae in eo fuerint fragmenta, in calicem immittit." Another rubric, similar to the above, but referring to large Hosts, is as follows : "Si vero adsint Hostiae consecratae super corporale positae pro alio tempore conservandae, facta prius genuflectione, reponit eas in vas ad hoc ordinatum, et diligenter advertit, ne aliquod fragmentum, quantumcumque minimum, remaneat super corporale; quod si fuerit, accurate reponit in calicem." Here too there is no room for scruples or anxiety. We are not commanded to search for particles. Consecrated Hosts, large or small, have rested on the corporal. It is possible that some fragments may have become detached. If this be the case, they must be cared for. There is no uncertainty or doubt as to the nature of these particles.

One other rubric of the Missal has some bearing on the subject before us: "Si Hostia consecrata, vel aliqua ejus particula dilabatur, et locus ubi cecidit mundetur et aliquantulum abradatur, et pulvis seu abrasio hujusmodi in sacrarium immittitur. Si cediderit extra corporale in mappam, seu alio quovis modo in aliquod linteum, mappa vel linteum hujusmodi diligenter lavetur et lotio ipsa in sacrarium effundatur." This rubric cannot refer to minute particles. The particles in question must be large enough to be seen and handled, since they are to be picked up reverently.

All the rubrics quoted may be easily observed, and in their observance we are not exposed to the danger of false adoration. Here too we are dealing with positive prescriptions. The case is far different from that of the communion cloth. Let us add moreover that any cloth, other than the corporal, on which a notable particle fall, as stated above, must be washed. You will look in vain for any similar regulation relating specifically to the communion cloth or card. But does not the rubric quoted refer to any cloth and hence also to the communion cloth or card on which the Sacred Species may fall? It does, according to many liturgists, while others are of the contrary opinion. Be this as it may, the rubric leaves untouched the question of minute, dust-like, scarcely discernible particles.

Basing our judgment then on the Missal, Ritual, and Ceremonial of Bishops, on the almost universal practice of not purifying the communion card (not to speak of the cloth), on the improprieties that arise from the purification of the same, on the silence of the Church and liturgical writers, we are convinced that the purpose of the communion cloth or card is not to preserve minute particles of the Sacred Species, but merely to receive the whole Host or any considerable portion thereof, should it fall from the hands of the celebrant. But are we not guilty of profanation, when we know that such minute particles of the Sacred Species have fallen, and we do nothing? Let it suffice to be in the company of Ambrose, Chrysostom, Gregory, Thomas, and other saints, who leave these atoms to the custody of angels, since it is morally impossible for priests to care for them. Recall with Quarti : "Saepius a Deo permitti ex malitia vel negligentia humana irreverenter tractari Eucharistiae sacramentum ; quae tamen injuriae in diem ultionis a Deo reservantur puniendae, et in majorem Christi gloriam convertendae : sed dicimus, ubi non se immiscet malitia hominum eas praecaveri ab angelis."

Surely the Church must do all that is morally possible to preserve the Sacred Particles. But cannot this be better effected by substituting for the communion cloth a metal disc or paten? Thus will the priest be enabled more readily to discern and to care for the Sacred Particles. Does not this argument rest on a false supposition, namely that the purpose of the plate or disc is that the fragments may be more easily seen and preserved? The purpose of the communion plate can be none other than that of the communion cloth, and this is not to receive minute particles. The plate is passed from one to another, either by the communicants themselves or by the server. By what right do they touch it, if it contain Sacred Particles? It is brought close to the person; many communicants are in the habit of kissing it; particles from various sources settle upon it. Yes, we are ready to grant that the eye may more easily detect particles on a burnished or gilded surface than on a linen cloth, but is it easier to discern which of those particles are Sacred Species and which are not?

You will admit nevertheless that precious metal is more fitting for the purpose than linen. Even the Church requires that in Solemn Masses and in Masses celebrated by certain prelates, the celebrants paten be held by the deacon or assistant before cleric or lay communicants. Let us answer that the Church is satisfied with a linen corporal, on which the Adorable Body of Christ rests for a considerable portion of the Mass.

Communicants are not allowed to touch the paten much less to kiss it. The communion cloth or card is used together with the paten. The paten consequently is employed for solemnity and not out of necessity. It is not necessarily Held under the chin of the communicant. It suffices to hold it under the celebrant's 'hand. Lastly the rubrics do not pre- scribe that the paten be purified after having been thus used.

But if I prefer the plate may I not use it? Several years ago the following query was put to the Sacred Congregation of Rites: "An in ministranda fidelibus Sacra Communio liceat loco tobalearum uti tabellis ex metallo, vel hujusmodi usus tolerari possit in his dioecesibus in quibus fuit introductus?" Under date of 20 March, 1875, the Sacred Congregation answered: "Non esse interloquendum : nihilominus significetur per epistolam Rmo. D. Episcopo Alexandriae non esse improbandum usum tobalearum linearum." Thus far has Rome gone and no farther. The plate is tolerated, but not recommended. The Congregation is careful to state that the use of the plate may not be imposed upon us. Furthermore, a search for the above decree in the Authentic Collection of the Decrees of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, issued in 1898, will prove fruitless. Nevertheless the decree of 1875 retains what little force it had when issued. Thus the Cardinal Vicar of Rome in his official instructions in 1904 for the canonical visitation of the city says: "The communion plate is barely tolerated ('E appeno tollerato il piattino metallico)," but it must be highly polished and kept in a case.

The Sacred Congregation of Rites was not asked in regard to the purification or custody of the communion plate. What will the priest, who still wishes to use it, do with the particles that he finds upon it? There is no law obliging him to put them into the chalice. Is he free to do so? Realize what this implies, realize the worship due to the Blessed Sacrament, realize what these fragments or particles are and whence most of them come, and explain, if you can, any liberty or option in this matter. To put these particles into the chalice and consume them is irreverent and nauseous. To purify the communion plate into the ciborium would beget additional difficulties on which we need not dwell.

If, in conclusion, you still desire to use the communion plate, do not put it in the tabernacle or otherwise treat it as you would a vessel which contains the Blessed Sacrament. Do not purify it into the chalice or ciborium. This the rubrics do not allow, and there are other grave reasons for not so doing. At most it may be purified into the glass of water, which serves for cleansing the priest's fingers, and the contents of which are later poured into the sacrarium. Ita scrupulosis tranquillitas. Finally, is there any well founded reason for not using a communion cloth? The Church is satisfied with it, prescribes it in fact. Ask communicants if it is not a distraction at a solemn moment to be obliged to pass the card to their neighbor. Ask them if it is not a greater annoyance to have the server, while holding it, stare into their face. Where, moreover, is your authority for permitting the server to hold it? The rubrics are ample for all occasions. Why then introduce regulations of our own making?

A. B. MEEHAN.
January, 1917

I should add that some of the items in these costumes, for dressing boys up like prelates and little clerics, were forbidden by the Sacred Congregation of Rites

An praeter vestes liturgicas quae competunt vel conceduntur clericis, scilicet vestem talarem nigram, vel rubram, superpelliceum seu cottam . . . liceat istis pueris, qui clericos supplent, induere alia indumenta liturgica, videlicet albam pro superpelliceo seu cottam? cingulum? birettum rubrum? mozettam rubram vel alius colons? chirotecas?

Resp. Negative (S. C. 9 Julii 1859 Petrocoren. ad 2).

Published in August, 2007

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Mass for the Abbeyleix Martyrs

This afternoon, just after 12 noon (and after the recitation of the Angelus), Mass was celebrated in the Gregorian Rite in the Church of the Most Holy Rosary, Abbeyleix, Co. Laois. The Church of the Most Holy Rosary was designed by William Hague (1836-1899), the protégé of Augustus Wellby Pugin and J.J. McCarthy. Foresaking Pugin's beloved Gothic style, the Church is an a Hiberno-Romanesque.


The foundation stone was laid in 1893 and the church was blessed on 26th May, 1895. The sanctuary, a riot of fresco almost contained within a top-lit apse, is surrounded by modern Altar rails. The High Altar and two Side Altars are intact and the new Altar is in keeping with the building. The adjoining Convent Chapel is similarly well appointed.


Hague was born in Cavan town. Having trained as an architect in Dublin and in 1862 he opened an office in Great Brunswick St., (now Pearse St.). He worked in almost every County in Ireland. He was responsible for a considerable amount of Church architecture in the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin. Of the 117 Churches currently in use in the Diocese, he is responsible for nine. His works in Kildare and Leighlin include the New Wing of Carlow College (1879), Parish Church of Ss. Peter and Paul, Monasterevin(1880); the Sacred Heart Chapel at Carlow College (now converted into a library(!)(1883); Parish Church of Ss. Patrick and Brigid, Clane (1884); St. Patrick's Church, Rathoe (Parish of Ballon) and St. Forchern's Church, Rathanna (Parish of Borris)(both in 1885); Church of the Sacred Heart, the Hollow (Parish of Mountrath)(1887); the Carmelite Church, Kildare Town (1889); the Parish Church of St. Patrick, Rathvilly (1898); the Parish Church of the Sacred heart, Stradbally, Co. Laois (1893), while work on the Church at nearby Abbeyleix was ongoing.


Incidentally, he also designed St. John's Church, Kilkenny and St. Patrick's Church, Kilkenny, where Mass is celebrated regularly in the Gregorian Rite. The Irish Architectural Archive holds undated drawings by Hague for proposed additions to St. Conleth's Parish Church, Newbridge, Co. Kildare.


The Mass was a Votive Mass of Our Lady, celebrated by Revd. Fr. Desmond Flanagan, Ord. Carm., who spoke in his sermon of the vital importance of devotion to Our Lady for our spiritual lives. He gave several examples from the virtues of Our Lady on why special devotion to her - hyperdulia - is a treasure and an essential component of our Catholic Faith.


The music was another selection of traditional vernacular and Latin hymns sung by the stunningly talented Miss Máire Mullarkey to whom we are once again deeply endebted for her great generosity.


The Mass was offered for the repose of the souls of three Franciscan Martyrs of Abbeyleix, John O'Molloy, Cornelius O'Dogherty, and Geoffrey Farrell, who were hanged, drawn and quartered by the English garrison of Abbeyleix on 15th December, 1588, for the crime of being Catholic Priests, of offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and of ministering to the people of the locality. The Rite of Mass that was seen today, for the first time in more than 40 years in Abbeyleix, would have been very familiar to them.


With the Cistercians, the Franciscans had taken the brunt of persecution by English Protestants. In 1540, the Franciscans of Monaghan were martyred. In 1565, two Franciscans, Conacius Macuarta (Conn McCourt) and Roger MacCongaill (McConnell), were flogged to death in Armagh for refusing to pervert from the Faith. On 21st January, 1575, three Franciscans, John Lochran, Donagh O'Rorke, and Edmund Fitzsimon, were martyred in Downpatrick. The Guardian of Armagh, Fergall Ward, also received the martyr's palm in 1575, on 12th April of that year when he was hanged with his own girdle. On 22nd August, 1578, Patrick O'Hely, Bishop of , and Cornelius O'Rorke were martyred in Killmallock. On 1st January, 1579, in Limerick, Thaddæus Daly and his companion were hanged, drawn, and quartered. The bystanders reported that his head when cut off distinctly uttered the words: "Lord, show me Thy ways." Also in 1579, John O'Dowd, for refusing to reveal a confession, was put to death at Elphin by having his skull compressed with a twisted cord. On 28th March, 1580, Daniel O'Neilan was martyred by having fastened round the waist a rope and being thrown with weights tied to his feet from one of town-gates at Youghal, finally fastened to a mill-wheel and torn to pieces. On 6th April, 1580, Daniel Hanrichan, Maurice O'Scanlan, and Philip O'Shee (O'Lee), were beaten with sticks and executed before the altar of Lislachtin monastery, Co. Kerry. On 1st May, 1582, Phelim O'Hara and Henry Delahoyde were hanged, drawned and quartered in Moyne, Co. Mayo. Also in 1582, Thaddæus O'Meran, Guardian of Enniscorty was martyred there and no less than six Franciscans died in Dublin Castle, namely Roger O'Donnellan, Cahill McGoran, Peter McQuillan, Patrick O'Kenna, James Pillan, and Roger O'Hanlon (more correctly McHenlea). In 1584, John O'Daly was trampled to death by cavalry. In 1587, both John Cornelius and Walter Farrell joined the martyrology.


In the year of the Franciscan Martyrs of Abbeyleix, 1588, Fr. Dermot O'Mulrony, Brother Thomas and another Franciscan of Galbally, Co. Limerick were put to death there 21st March. Patrick O'Brady, Prior of Monaghan, and Thaddæus O'Boyle, Guardian of Monaghan, also suffered that same year.

The three Martyrs of Abbeyleix had spent the previous eight years travelling throughout this part of Leinster ministering to the people. As can be seen from the list above, they could be in no doubt about the danger in which they put themselves to bring the consolations of Holy Mother Church to the people. As the Actae of the Irish Franciscan Province put it: "In defiance of the danger by which they were encompassed, these holy men clung, with the affection of fathers, to their afflicted countrymen; they shared in their sufferings, partook of their sorrows, and never departed from them until they had at length fallen a sacrifice to their enemies. Whilst pursuing their journey through a remote district of the Queen's County, they were overtaken by a party of cavalry, bound hand and foot, and carried amidst the insults of a brutal soldiery to the garrison of Abbeyleix. Here they were flogged and put to the rack; having endured this torture for a length of time, they were ultimately strangled, disembowelled and quartered, and thus, with the spirit of Christian martyrs, did they generously lay down their lives, in support of the religion of their country and their fathers."

Edward Alfred D'Alton, in his History of Ireland mentions them: "Three Franciscans at Abbeyleix were first beaten with sticks then scourged with whips until the blood came and finally were hanged. One Roche was taken to London and flogged publicly through the streets and then tortured in prison until he died another after being flogged had salt and vinegar rubbed into his wounds and then was placed on the rack and tortured to death and Collins a priest at Cork was first tortured then hanged and whilst he yet breathed his heart was cut out and held up the soldiers around crying out in exultation Long live the Queen!"

Our Lady, Queen of Martyrs, pray for us!
Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for us!

Friday, 23 July 2010

The Scandalous Bishop of Cork

The Convenor has been showing off his knowledge of the Bishops of Cork but the most interesting of all is the scandalous Bishop John Butler, who was Bishop of Cork from 1763 to 1787.

The Butlers of Ormonde
John Butler came of the great Butlers of Ormonde, one of the greatest families in the kingdom of Ireland whose titles included a Dukedom, a Marquisate, four Earldoms and a Barony - the Barony was the problem. Under the pressure of the penal laws, members of each branch of the family were forced to 'conform' to the Protestant religion in order to save the family's property. For example, the famous Catholic family, the Butlers of Kilcash, Thomas Butler, who fought for the Jacobite cause, died in 1738. Whatever difficulties oppressed Catholics during life, special penalties were reserved for them at the passage of their estate to their heirs. Thus, Thomas' son, John, 'conformed' in 1739.

Father Butler
It was into this atmosphere of spiritual genocide that our John Butler was born in 1731. He was the third son of Edmond Butler, 8th Baron Dunboyne. While his two brothers, James and Pierce, joined the Wild Geese fighting with the Armies of the King of France, John pursued a vocation to the priesthood by studying at the Irish College in Rome from 1749. While there, he was not entirely passive - or well-behaved - and lost an eye in a duel. By reason of this defect, it required a special dispensation for him to be ordained, which he was on 20 December 1755 at the Lateran Basilica, which had newly acquired its Baroque façade and interior. He then studied at the College of Propeganda Fide, the great missionary college in Rome, and obtained his Doctorate in Divinity.

Father Butler returned to Ireland in 1758 where, under the penal laws, he was required to register as a Papish minister. He was examined before a Justice of the Peace in Whitehaven when he landed. If the Murphys ruled large parts of the Irish Church in the 19th cent., the Butlers held sway in the 18th. Father Murphy returned to his native Archdiocese of Cashel to serve as Parish Priest of Ardmayle, just north of Cashel, under his cousin, Archbishop James Butler. Christopher Butler had been Archbishop from 1712 to 1757, James succeeded him in 1757 and was succeeded by another James Butler in 1774. At his death in 1791, there had been an unbroken succession of Butler Archbishops for 71 years. During four years as a Parish Priest, Father Butler was also the Archbishop's Secretary and Archdeacon of the Archdiocese.

Bishop of Cork
When the Bishop of Cork died, Father Butler was placed dignissimus among the list of candidates submitted by Cardinal Spinelli, in one of his last acts as Prefect of the Propaganda Fide. The Congregation of Propaganda Fide was the Vatican Department of mission territories. Ireland (as well as Scotland, Canada and the United States) came under this Department of the Vatican until the Constitution of 29 June 1909. He was duly appointed Bishop of Cork on 16 April 1763 by Pope Clement XIII (the man who put the fig leaves on the statues of Rome) and he was consecrated the following June.

It is not hard to imagine that his time as Bishop was characterised by adherence to the status quo of the English Protestant ascendency. His Statuta synodalia pro dioecesi Corcagiensi in 1768 made membership of the Whiteboys, the geurilla fighters against the Protestant penal régime, a reserved sin. In 1771, he managed to prevent the introduction of the Ursuline Nuns to Cork by Nano Nagle - a felix culpa that was to see his successor, Bishop Moylan, preside over the foundation of the Presentation Sisters. The Ursulines don't seem to have been the only Order that didn't find Bishop Butler too helpful. The Carmelites of Kinsale had to endure repeated attempts by him to take over their Chapel as a Parish Church. When he couldn't succeed by other means, he withdrew their faculties to hear confessions and administer the Sacraments. Their appeal to Rome was supported by Fr. O'Mahony, the Parish Priest, who declared that the Chapel and Friary were built and owned by the Carmelite Order. Such incidents didn't bode well for the scandalous Bishop of Cork.

The Barons Dunboyne
Bishop Butler's father had died in 1732 and his brother James became the 9th Baron Dunboyne. James died in 1768 and their brother Pierce became 10th Baron. Pierce died in 1773 and his son, also Pierce, became 11th Baron, until his death in 1785. On the death of his nephew Pierce, Bishop Butler became 12th Baron Dunboyne.

This is where the scandal begins and it is the point at which I stop understanding the train of events - or the train of logic of the Bishop. Lord Dunboyne fears for the extinction of his family - he has, after all, outlived his father, brothers, and nephews. In order to preserve his line, he is anxious to have heirs, legitimate heirs, in which the small matter of a vow of celibacy is an obstacle. Thus, he resigns as Bishop of Cork and seeks a dispensation from his vow of celibacy from Pope Pius VI in order to marry and beget heirs to the title. "It is no pleasure for me after a life of celibacy, to share my bed and board," wrote the Reverend Lord Dunboyne. However, when he died in 1800, he was succeeded by a cousin, a nephew of Archbishop James Butler. It may have struck Pope Pius (and it strikes me) was it really necessary for him to marry? Couldn't the cousin have inherited just as well from a Bishop as from a Lord?

The Catholic Dunboynes had been, until that time, merely de facto Barons, since their Letters Patent couldn't be issued until they 'conformed.' It was not until the cousin inherited as 13th Baron that there was the "reversal of outlawries which affected the title, in the Court of King's Bench in Dublin in Michaelmas term 1827, by virtue of His Majesty's warrant dated at Windsor 26 October 1827."

The Scandal Begins
the 12th Lord Dunboyne seemed to think it was necessary that he should marry and after resigning as Bishop of Cork but without the dispensation from his vows from the Pope, he visited Brookley House in Tipperary, the home of some Protestant cousins, where (the worse for drink it is said) he met Miss Maria Butler. At the time, she was 23 and he was 57. By Christmas 1786, Maria's father had informed her that 'the Bishop' had asked for her hand in marriage. The courting began in earnest and they were married by the following April 1787 - need I say - in the Anglican Church. 'The Dunboynes' took up residence at Dunboyne Castle, Co. Meath.

On the 11 August 1787 Archbishop Butler met Lord Dunboyne to give him the Pope's reply (dated 9 June 1787). When he had finished reading the letter Lord Dunboyne is reported to have said “I fear my case has not been fully understood. I am not a young man, nor am I seeking release from my vows for selfish reasons. The Holy Father must be told again that I am solely concerned with the continuation of our family.” Mind you, the small matter of a wife might have made the explanation that much more difficult.

Eight days later, on 19 August 1787 Lord Dunboyne 'conformed' to Anglicanism at St. Mary’s Church, Clonmel before Rev. M.R. Dunlevy. The Catholic people of Clonmel protested outside. Fr. Arthur O’Leary, OFMCap., of Cork published a pamphlet against the apostate Bishop. An anonymous satire was published in Irish.

Nuair a bheas tú in Ifrionn go fóill,
Agus do deora ag silleadh leat,
Sin an áit a bhfuagh tú na scéala,
Cé is fearr sagairt no ministéar.

Later when you’ll be in hell,
And your tears flow,
That's the place that you’ll discover,
Which is better, a priest or minister.

The Dunboyne Marriage
The marriage was not a happy one. Their only child, a daughter, was born deformed and lived only a few minutes. It is said that the child was buried in ruins of the Augustinian Friary in Fethard, Co. Tipperary. A cloud of depression enveloped the couple which they attempted to lift by taking up residence at 18, Leeson Street, Dublin, now the home of the Standards in Public Office Commission. It didn't help their relationship and they soon divorced. Maria married John Moore from Portumna. They had one son, Hubert Butler Moore, and a grandson called Butler Dunboyne Moore, one of whose descendants was the British World War II commander Field Marshal Claude Auchinlech. Lady Dunboyne died in 1860.

Repentence
Lord Dunboyne showed many signs of remorse for his actions. When the Catholic Chapel at Dunboyne was destroyed in 1798, Lord Dunboyne offered to pay for the rebuilding himself. On another occasion he offered his own chalice, dated 1621, to the Parish Priest of Kilusty near Fethard saying "Here is a chalice for you with which I often celebrated Mass in happier days. Take it from my polluted hands." The chalice is still in the possession of the Parish.

From his residence in Leeson Street, Lord Dunboyne sought reconciliation with the Church through Archbishop Troy of Dublin. A letter begging for absolution was sent to Rome. Dunboyne's friend of 20 years, Fr. Gahan, O.S.A., an Augustinian and Prior of their house in John's Lane, was the man chosen by the Archbishop to attend him as he crept towards his judgement. Dr. Gahan was to fall under the shadow of the curse of the apostate Bishop.

Persecution Post Mortem
Dunboyne died on 5 May 1800 and was buried in the ruins of the Augustinian Friary in Fethard, near his infant daughter. He was reconciled to the Church on his deathbed, which made him, in the eyes of English Law "a relapsed Papist," in which condition, legacies of land in his will were automatically voided. Once again, the penal laws acted to persecute Catholics even after death. Dunboyne's will left a large endowment based on land to the recently founded Maynooth College. That endowment was later to form the basis of the Post-graduate Faculty, 'The Dunboyne Establishment.' However, before the endowment passed to the College, the will was challenged by Mrs. Catherine O’ Brien Butler, a cousin.

Dr. Gahan was compelled to appear as a witness in the case and he was required by the Court to reveal the secrets of his conversations with Dunboyne. The most famous of the series of cases, Butler v. Moore, MacNally [1802], 253, decided that Priest-Penitent privilege was not recognised in law, per Sir Michael Smith, MR. Dr. Gahan refused to breach the seal of confession. At the Trim assizes on 24 August 1802 his persistent refusal to testify as to the religion in which Dunboyne had died was ruled by the Chief Justice, Lord Kilwarden (who was caught up in the Robert Emmet rising) as contempt of court. Dr. Gahan was imprisoned but only for a short time.

Remnants
Sir Jonah Barrington in his 'Personal Sketches' says that Kilwarden "had no natural genius, and but scanty general information; his talents were originally too feeble to raise him by their unassisted efforts into any political importance. Though patronised by the Earl of Tyrone, and supported by the Beresford aristocracy, his rise was slow and gradual, and his promotion to the office of solicitor-general had been long predicted, not from his ability, but in consequence of his reputation as a good-hearted man and a sound lawyer."

The famous case of Cook v. Carroll [1945] IR 515, a judgement of Mr. Justice Gavan Duffy, firmly established Priest-Parishioner Privilege in Ireland.

In the end, faced with the prospect of endless litigation, the parties agreed to a division of the property, including the endowment at Maynooth.

Robert Butler, 16th Baron and direct descendant of the brother of Archbishop Butler, was a barrister and Master of the High Court in Ireland. His grandson, Patrick Butler, 18th Baron, was also a barrister (Middle Temple 1947, King's Inns 1966) and an English Circuit Court Judge. His son is the present Baron Dunboyne.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Mass in Abbeyleix


Mass in the Gregorian Rite will be celebrated according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII (1962) in the Church of the Most Holy Rosary, Abbeyleix, Co. Laois, at 12 noon on Saturday, 24th July, 2010, with the kind permission of the Very Reverend Parish Priest of Abbeyleix.

Further details are available from (and offers of assistance can be made to): pilgrimages@catholic.org

Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for us!

Sunday, 11 July 2010

22nd Monthly Mass in the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin

There were 10 in the congregation this afternoon for the 22nd monthly Mass. The Priest was assisted by a single server. It was a Low Mass concluded with the Salve Regina sung in the Simple Tone.

St. Oliver Plunkett - Traditional Feast


When Pope Benedict XV beatified Archbishop Oliver Plunkett ninety years ago on 22nd May, 1920, the struggle for Irish Independence was at its height. He suffered a martyrs death at Tyburn, London, condemned by unjust judges upon perjured evidence, the victim of the anti-Catholic Titus Oates Plot, on 11th July, 1681.

The mission of St. Oliver to Ireland took place in the shadow of the fall of the Catholic Confederacy a generation before, which was largely due to divisions among the Catholics between the Gaelic Irish and Anglo-Irish. St. Oliver's Anglo-Irish background was at once of great assistance and a hinderance to his mission. The fall of the Confederacy was followed by the murderous and anti-Catholic rampage of Cromwell and his forces throughout Ireland during the years 1649-'53. The reign of Charles II promised much but gave little in the way of relief for Catholics.

St. Oliver was appointed to the See of Armagh on 9th July, 1669, and was consecrated at Ghent on 30th November the same year. He landed in Ireland on 7th March the following year. In 1678, the so-called 'Popish Plot' conspiracy broke out under the pervert, renegade and defrocked perjurer Oates.

Dr. Plunkett had to undergo two trials. Even an English Protestant jury would not convict him - on the first occasion. At the second trial, however, the result was not in doubt. Lord Chief Justice Pemberton, who Lord Brougham in his Lives of the Chief Justices of England branded as betraying the cause of justice and bringing disgrace on the English Bar, replied to the protests of Dr. Plunkett thus: "Look you Mr Plunkett, do not waste your time by talking about these things as it leaves less time for your defence,” adding “the bottom of your treason, which is treason of the highest order, was the setting up of your false religion and there is nothing more displeasing to God than it.” The jury returned within fifteen minutes with a guilty verdict. Archbishop Plunkett replied: “Deo Gratias.”

In March of that year, King Charles II granted to William Penn territory that would later become Pennsylvania. Blessed Innocent XI, who would later support William of Orange's usurpation of the English Throne, was Pope. Also in 1681, John Dryden published the first part of Absalom and Achitophel. In that poem, he described Oates thus: "Sunk were his eyes, his voice was harsh and loud, Sure signs he neither choleric was nor proud: His long chin proved his wit, his saint-like grace, A church vermilion and a Moses' face."

It was on 11th July, 1681, that Archbishop Plunkett was led to the scaffold at Tyburn "for promoting the Roman faith," and died the last of 264 martyrs for the Faith to have spilled their blood in England since 1534.

A mere four years later, the Catholic convert James II ascended the English Throne but was to be ousted by his Protestant daughter Mary and her husband William of Orange in 1688 at the birth of a Catholic heir, the future James III. The last of the martyrs may have fallen but the persecution of Catholics was to continue.

In a letter of 15th December, 1673, Archbishop Plunkett wrote: "I count myself fortunate now and again to obtain a little barley bread, and the house where Bishop Brenan [of Waterford] and I are is made of straw and is roofed in such a way that from the bed we can see the stars and at the head of the bed every small shower of rain refreshes us; but we would rather die of hunger and cold than abandon our flocks."

The traditional hymn to St. Oliver Plunkett runs as follows:

1.
Come glorious Martyr, rise,
Into the golden skies,
Beyond the sun!
Wide, wide your portals fling,
Ye martyr hosts, O sing,
To greet his entering,
"Well hast thou done."

2.
Never reproach he made,
Like to his Lord betrayed,
By his own kind.
Sharing his Master's blame,
Gladly he bore the shame,
While the false charge they frame,
"Guilty," they find.

3.
As coach of state he hails,
Hurdle of shame, and trails,
All the rough way,
Through London streets he goes,
Heedless of lesser woes,
Tyburn holds greater throes,
Ready that day.

4.
Blood-stained the path he trod,
Leading him on to God,
Counting no cost.
"Now for my Faith I die,"
Said he in glad reply;
"Oh, for my God I sigh,
All fear is lost."

5.
"Lord in thy hands," he prays,
"My soul forever stays,
Strengthen thou me.
Welcome, O rope and knife"
All those who made this strife,
I now forgive, my life,
Offer to thee."

6.
Hail then, great Martyr, hail!
In death thou didst prevail!
Winning renown!
Blow the full trumpets, blow!
Wider yon portals throw!
Martyr, triumphant go,
Where waits thy crown!

St. Oliver Plunkett, pray for us!

Saturday, 10 July 2010

St. Colman's Liturgy Conference - First Vespers

This evening was held the first liturgical event of the third Liturgical Conference organised by St. Colman's Society for Catholic Liturgy in the Church of Ss. Peter and Paul, Cork.

First Vespers of the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost was celebrated by His Excellency, the Most Reverend Archbishop Raymond Leo Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.











[Feel free to use these images but please credit this blog and give proper reference to the location and occasion - Convenor]

I have previously described this Church but I would like to make one further observation, which is that it is a Church of 'Juniors.'

By that I mean that it was the product of the work of two men, Archdeacon John Murphy and Edward Welby Pugin, who followed in the footsteps of elder relations, an uncle, Bishop John Murphy of Cork and Ross, in the former case, and a father, the great Augustus Welby Pugin, in the latter. I may say also that Archdeacon Murphy's brother, Francis Murphy, S.L., M.P., was a figure of no small interest himself.

However, the figure that interests me today is Bishop John Murphy (1772-1847)(r. 1815-1847). He was a member of the great brewing family of Cork City. Dean Murphy(!) in his life of Bishop Murphy declares: "while yet in his tender years displayed that pious disposition which, combined with attachment to study, determined his attachment to the clerical state." Dean Murphy himself, who was secretary to the Synod of Thurles in 1850, Vicar General of Cork from 1853 and first Dean of the reconstituted Chapter of Cork in 1858, served as Curate in Ss. Peter and Paul's from 1838-'42.

Bishop Murphy's Priestly studies began, by the arrangement of Bishop Moylan of Cork, at the Irish College in Paris in 1787 but rebellion in France forced him to remove from France. His studies were completed at the Irish College in Lisbon, where he was ordained Priest in 1796, with a dispensation on account of his youth.

He served in the Parish of Ss. Peter and Paul as Curate and then, like his nephew after him, as Parish Priest. Bishop Murphy was coadjutor to Dr. Moylan (who was instrumental in the foundation of the Presentation Sisters) but only for less than a month between January and February, 1815, when he succeeded to the See of Cork upon his predecessor's death. He was to consecrate both Bishop Daniel Murphy of Hobart, uncle of 'the Murphy-O'Connors' (as Vicar Apostolic of Hyderabad) and Bishop John England of Charleston.

Unlike his precedessor, Dr. Moylan, Bishop Murphy was vehemently against the proposed veto offered to the British Government in Ireland over the appointment of Irish Bishops in exchange for concessions on the Penal Laws still in force. However, we have it on the authority of no less than Prof. Timothy Corcoran, S.J., that even Bishop Murphy found the vehemence of Father and later Bishop England excessive!

The question of the survival of the Irish Language in Cork is of direct relevance. Bishop Florence McCarthy had been appointed coadjutor to Dr. Moylan in 1803 but died in 1810 without succeeding to the See. It was said at his appointment that Dr. McCarthy did not know Irish but that: "...Irish is not so necessary in Cork and its district." However, when Dr. Murphy was appointed in 1815, he found it necessary to learn Irish: "...without which he could not communicate with his people."

Bishop Murphy is indirectly responsible for the foundation of the Presentation Brothers in his refusal to permit the houses in his Diocese to join the congregation of the Christian Brothers. Although the Cork houses joined the congregation later, the seed of a second sprout was sown by Dr. Murphy's independent line.

Dr. Murphy was responsible for the main fabric of the present North Chapel, the Cathedral of Cork, which was refurbished following a fire in 1820. He was also the first patron of John Hogan, who completed the magnificent apse, which was a veritable riot of statuary. In 1822, Dr. Murphy commissioned 27 statues of Saints and a representation of the Last Supper for the Sanctuary based upon drawings contained in the Bishop's library. They were to be removed, ironically enough, with the body of Dr. Murphy himself, during 'reordering' in 1965. Bishop Murphy's monument, also by Hogan (1853) suffered the same fate - and the oblivion of the rest of the statuary. I should say, however, that the body of Dr. Murphy suffered a kinder fate and was honourably re-interred in St. Finbar's Cemetery!

Bishop Murphy wrote to Hogan: "My dear John, I send you the letter of general recommendation which I promised ... I sincerely wish you good health, a safe journey to Rome and a happy return to your native country ..." In the accompanying letter in Latin, the Bishop wrote: "We think we should commend and do with these presents commended you in the Lord, to all Most Illustrious and most Reverend Lords, Archbishops, Bishops and Clergy and Faithful, who enjoy communion with the Holy See, as one fully known to us, endowed with excellent morals and expecially pious to God, Holy Mother the Church and his parents ..."

What has always interested me most about Dr. Murphy is not his surname, nor that he represents an age when the Murphys ruled the World (or at least large parts of the Church!) - Bishop Timothy Murphy was Bishop of Cloyne and Ross from 1849 (and then just Cloyne from 1850). What interests me is his bibliomania, which was legendary.

An account of one of his many trips to Dublin bookshops relates that he visited the shop of Patrick Kennedy in Anglesey Street: "At last the anxious guardian of past literature is gladdened by the apparition o the gold-headed cane, the silk stockings fitting in the buckled shoes, the waistcoat not innocent of snuff, the loose coat, the broad-brimmed hat, and the kind good natured face under it... If a price was asked which he affected to think was too high, he would stop short, gaze ludiocro-sternly over his spectacles at the culprit and cry out 'Ah? You think to impose on the poor Connaughtman.' He made up the bill as he went along and when he left the shop he left behind him cheerful words and something to meet the rent or the auctioneers bill."

The diaries of Montalembert and Kohl contain descriptions of the Bishop of Cork. Kohl describes his library thus: "The Roman Catholic Bishop of Cork has one of the must interesting collections of books I have ever seen. This learned and industrious man has turned his whole house into a library; not only has he converted his sitting-rooms and dining-room into book-rooms but even in his bedrooms, every available space is filled with books. His attendants, even his maidservants, sleep in little libraries; the staircases are lined with books along the walls and the corridors, which lead from room to room, have full bookcases at their sides; everywhere books are literally piled up, even to the garrets."

As well as books, the Bishop commissioned Gaelic scholars to produce manuscripts for his collection, 120 volumes of which are held in the Russell Library, St. Patrick's College, Maynooth.

The Manuscripts are of particular interest. They include romances, religious and secular poetry, sermons, translations of devotional works, lives of the saints and genealogies. Bishop Murphy was of the generation of the great Eugene O'Curry and had a notable part in the preservation of much Gaelic Irish culture.

Bishop Murphy commissioned numbers of Gaelic scholars to transcribe and copy Irish Manuscripts. Two were Michael Óg O'Longan and his son. Michael Óg came of a great line of Irish scribes. His father Michael had been scribe in residence to the Knight of Glin, but indignantly left that gentleman's service when the Knight conformed to the Protestant religion under the pressure of the Penal Laws and settled at Teampull-geal-na-mona movill, now known as Whitechurch, Co. Cork. In 1836, in his 71st year, Michael Óg composed three quatrains in Bishop Murphy's honour. One of his other poems was the source of 'The Boys of Wexford.'

In the Journal of the Royal Historical anid Archeological Society of Ireland for July, 1882, there appears a translation made by Michael Óg for the amusement of Justin McCarthy of Carrignavar, of Dermot McCarthy's Irish 'Elegy on Lord Mountcashel,' written about 1724 and another translation of his, MacBruodin's Genealogical Poem composed for the O'Keefes, is printed in Cronnelly's Clan Roghan. He also translated the Annals of Innisfallen into English about the year 1831. Joseph, Michael Óg's son, became scribe in residence of the Royal Irish Academy on the death of O'Curry.

One word of interest to those who assert that "alien" Roman devotions imported by Cardinal Cullen drove out Irish spiritual traditions is to be found in the Relatio of Bishop Murphy for 1845 where he finds: "Cork Catholics in general numerous and well-devoted to their religion, " and attributes the peacefulness of the city to the regular attendance of the citizens at just such so-called 'Roman' devotions.

It was Bishop Murphy's dying wish that his library might be preserved and housed in Cork but the 70,000 volumes (save the manuscript collection that found its way to Maynooth) were dispersed to the four winds. It took a full year to complete the auction, many of the books being sold by weight.

'Murphy the younger,' the Archdeacon, after a youthful career of great distinction that would baffle the novelist or film director, was ordained at the age of 48 by his uncle, Bishop Murphy. However, he did not serve in Cork until after the death of his uncle. He was a staunch and zealous pastor in the Irish slums of Liverpool at Copperas Hill, until his was recalled to Cork by Bishop Murphy's successor, Bishop Delaney, as his secretary. He served as Chaplain to the Poor Law Union and the Presentation Convent in Bandon and as Curate at Schull before his appointment to Ss. Peter and Paul's in 1848, where he remained until 1874.

While in that post he was responsible not only for the fine Church of Ss. Peter and Paul but also for the founding of the Mercy Hospital in the former Mansion House, where it is still housed. He became Archdeacon of Cork in 1874 and died at Sunday's Well in 1883. His Requiem Mass was celebrated by Bishop Delaney with the three curates of Ss. Peter and Paul's as deacon, subdeacon and MC - sad to say, not one of them a Murphy!

Summorum Pontificum - Kildare and Leighlin

Since it has not provided a weekly Sunday Mass in the Gregorian Rite, the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin does not feature in the statistics that I referred to yesterday. However, that does not fully reflect the situation in the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin since Summorum Pontificum.

As already mentioned, the International Federation Una Voce is compiling a third annual report on the implementation of Summorum Pontificum for the Holy See to coincide with the third anniversary of its coming into force, and to coincide with the returns that every Diocese in the World has been asked to make to the Holy See to coincide with that third anniversary.

We have already provided details of the groundwork for the Gregorian Rite in the Diocese, the progress of the Gregorian Rite in the Diocese, and the interest in the Gregorian Rite in the Diocese. All these can be summarised as follows.

Before Summorum Pontificum

Before Summorum Pontificum, St. Conleth's Catholic Heritage Association had been consistently requesting for more than a decade, the provision of Mass in the Gregorian Rite on Sundays and Holydays. One single Mass was permitted in the Gregorian Rite each year in one Parish (Kildare Town).

After Summorum Pontificum

-Regular Masses-

Immediately following Summorum Pontificum, seven Parish-based groups of members of St. Conleth's Catholic Heritage Association requested that Mass in the Gregorian Rite be provided in their Parishes on Sundays and Holydays. The result was a single monthly Mass provided in one Parish (Newbridge) a year later.

At least one other group requested Mass in the Gregorian Rite be provided in their Parish (Carlow Town) on Sundays and Holydays. No Mass was provided in response to that request.

That is, of the 56 Parishes of the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin, 8 Parishes, or ONE SEVENTH of the Parishes in the Diocese, have received requests for the provision of a Sunday and Holyday Mass. NOT ONE has acceeded to those requests. Only one has made any provision at all for a regular Mass (monthly in Newbridge). The annual Mass continues (in Kildare Town).

-Occasional Masses-

Of the 56 Parishes of the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin, 24 Parishes (including most of the 8 Parishes above) have received requests for single once-off Masses in the Gregorian Rite. Of those, 10 have given permission for single once-off Masses in the Gregorian Rite. However, of those 10, once-off sometimes meant just that and subsequent requests were refused or ignored.

That is, of the 56 Parishes of the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin, 10 Parishes, or ONE FIFTH of the Parishes in the Diocese have tolerated (with varying degrees of hospitality or hostility) Mass in the Gregorian Rite at least once since Summorum Pontificum. Of the 56 Parishes in the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin, at least 14 Parishes, or ONE QUARTER of the Parishes in the Diocese WILL NOT TOLERATE even a single Mass to be celebrated there, even since Summorum Pontificum.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Summorum Pontificum - Tempora Mutantur

Someone once wrote (was it Ovid?) that Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis - Times change and we change with them. The excellent blog Rorate Caeli has an analysis of the progress of the cause of the Gregorian Rite in the time since Summorum Pontificum. You can read it here.

The survey is necessarily limited in its scope to Sunday Masses and so doesn't reflect the growth of daily, monthly or occasional Masses. However, the exercise is valid and its analysis is well-grounded.

Here are the details for Ireland, first giving the number of Dioceses in 2005 and in 2010 giving an every Sunday provision:

Ireland: 4, 6 (like Canada and the Philippines, Ireland is a 'treading water' country with ups and downs).

14. IRELAND (26 sees)
2005 - Regularised: 4 sees
2008 - Regularised: 4 Masses in 4 sees; S.S.P.X: 6 Masses in 4 sees
2010 - Regularised: 6 or 7 Masses in 6 or 7 sees (status of Tuam uncertain); S.S.P.X: 6 Masses in 5 sees

In an earlier post, we showed that Ireland has 1 every-Sunday Gregorian Rite Mass per 694,000 Catholics, in contrast to Canada (1:568,000), Germany (1:539,000), Austria (1:523,000), Australia (1:308,000), the United States (1:223,000), Switzerland (1:152,000), Britain (1:129,000), and New Zealand (1:79,000).

If every Diocese in Ireland had one single every-Sunday Gregorian Rite Mass it would be change the proportion to 1:160,000.

St. Gregory the Great, pray for us!

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Summorum Pontificum - Is it a failure?

The English Catholic Herald is hosting a debate entitled: Is Summorum Pontificum a failure? You can contribute here.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Summorum Pontificum - Tres Abhinc Annos



I remember where I was the day that the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum was issued. The rumours of an Apostolic Letter freeing the Latin Mass had been flying around since the reign of John Paul II. There had been many false hopes raised. Would this be another one?

I was kneeling in the Chapel of Cardinal Newman's University Church, Dublin. The Sodality of Our Lady had received permission for a monthly Latin Mass a few months earlier from the Archbishop. At 11 a.m. on Saturday, 7th July, 2007, the first Mass was celebrated. We had just begun singing the Kyrie when a text came through from a friend in Rome - I know what you're going to say but I think you'll excuse me this once for having my mobile on in Church - that at 12 noon Rome time, 11 a.m. Irish time, the long awaited Charter for the Restoration of the Latin Mass had been published.

Deo Gratias!

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Our Catholic Heritage - Kildare and Leighlin (Part 1)

Reference to The Fold in a forthcoming postmade me look up the Diocesan Year Book of the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin. Over a relatively short period of the 50s and 60s it is a remarkably repetitious publication but it also gives us some side-lights upon the Catholic heritage of the Diocese.

The Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin is the successor to the two Dioceses of that name. The Diocese of Kildare being erected about 490, is the more ancient of the two by about 600 years, and is just past its fifteenth centenary.


The Diocese of Kildare once claimed the Primacy of Leinster and, as the seat of the Patroness of Ireland, St. Brigid, might claim a moral prominence over at least three of the four Arciepiscopal Sees.


The two sees were united in 1678 and is a suffragan see of the Archdiocese of Dublin, together with the Dioceses of Ferns and Ossory. The Archdiocese of Dublin has three regular locations where the Gregorian Rite is celebrated, one being St. Kevin's Church, Harrington Street, where a Chaplaincy of three Diocesan Priests offers Mass at least daily. The Diocese of Ossory provides Mass in the Gregorian Rite every Sunday in Kilkenny. The Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin provides Mass in the Gregorian Rite on the second Sunday of the month (usually).


The Diocese of Kildare includes the northern half of that county, part of Offaly east of Tullamore and the northern part of Laois. It contains the ancient territories of Offaly, Carbury, and Hy Faelain. The Diocese of Leighlin lies north and south, including one half of Laois, all of County Carlow, together with portions of Counties Kilkenny, Wexford and Wicklow. It encompasses ancient Leix, which connects it with Kildare and a portion of Ui Ceinnsealaigh.


Among the Saints and scholars of the Diocese can be numbered St. Fiacc of Sletty, author of a poem in Irish on the life of St. Patrick, a poem in Latin on St. Brigid; St. Eimhin of Monasterevan, author of the "Tripartite Life" of St. Patrick, the "Life of St. Comgall," "Emin's Tribute (or Rule)," the "Lay of the Bell of St. Emin,"; St. Moling, who wrote a poem on Clonmore-Maedoc, one on the Borumha tribute of which he obtained the remission; St. Brogan of Clonsast, who composed a litany in Irish to Our Lady, indulgenced by Pius IX, a poem foretelling the Danish invasion, and the lost "Book of Clonsast"; St. Aedh, Bishop of Sletty, writer of a life of St. Patrick; Aengus the Culdee, joint author of the "Feilire," the "Martyrology of Tallaght," "Litany of the Saints," "De sanctis Hiberniae lib. V," a history of the Old Testament in metre, and the "Saltair-na-rann"; Siadhal, Abbot of Kildare, who compiled notes on the Epistles of St. Paul; Anmchadh, Bishop of Kildare, who wrote the fourth life of St. Brigid; Finn Mac Gorman, Bishop of Kildare, under whom the "Book of Leinster" was compiled; Dr. Maguire, Bishop of Leighlin, to whom the "Yellow Book of Leighlin" is attributed.


In more modern times we can recall, Dr. Gallagher, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, whose Irish sermons are a model; Dr. Doyle, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin and famous essayist; and Dr. Comerford, Co-adjutor Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, whose historical and devotional works are still valued.


The united diocese is one of the largest in Ireland, having an area 1,029,829 acres. The Annuario Pontificio for 2007 records that the Diocese has a population of 220,427, of whom 93.1% or 205,185 souls are Catholics, compared with 1901, when, out of a total population of 149,168, 87.4% or 130,377 were Catholics. In 2006, the Annuario reports that the Diocese had 114 secular Priests and 98 religious Priests (although that is obviously an error). In 1908, the Diocese had 133 secular Priests and 18 regular Priests. Thus, in 2006, there was one Priest for every 1,068 Catholics in the Diocese, compared with one Priest for every 863 Catholics in the first decade of the last Century. Put into the context of a fall in practice from around 97% to 50% or less, that isn't a bad average.


The images that are included in this post are from the 1959 Year Book of the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin. Each year, a colour supplement was included, e.g., the Marian Year and the Canonization of St. Pius X in 1954-55, the Scapulars of the Church in 1956. In 1959, the colour supplement records a sight that would not be seen in the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin for another 40 years...


It's our Catholic heritage and we want it back, please!