November 6 is the Feast of All the Saints of Ireland, a feast established just over a century ago. It is also the day on which I launched Omnium Sanctorum Hiberniae just over a decade ago to try and keep the memories of our Irish saints alive and to encourage a greater devotion to them. This same motivation was expressed in 1927 by Mary Maher in her book Footsteps of Irish Saints in the Dioceses of Ireland and she found an interesting support for it in an eighteenth-century pontifical brief addressed to the Archbishops and Bishops of Ireland by Pope Benedict XIV (1675-1758):
When I placed my notes on Irish Saints in book form, I did so with one intention only - viz., to plead with the readers for increased devotion to our great Irish saints. For that purpose I began writing an explanatory Preface, but had only written a few lines, when a very old and valuable book came, by accident, into my hands. In this book I found a special devotion to Irish Saints, coming from a saintly and venerable Pontiff, Benedict XIV, addressed to the Archbishops and Bishops of Ireland........:
"Cherish in your memories," said the illustrious Pontiff, "St Patrick, the Apostle of Ireland, whom our predecessor Celestine sent to you, of whose apostolic mission and preaching, such an abundant harvest has grown, that Ireland, before his time idolatrous, was suddenly called, and deservedly, 'The Island of Saints'. Cherish in your memories St Malachy, Archbishop of Armagh, who stood forth undaunted in every manner, prepared to convert the wolves into sheep, to admonish in public, to touch the chords of the heart. Cherish with yet more sincerity St Lawrence, Archbishop of Dublin, whom, born as he was of royal blood, our predecessor, Alexander III, constituted his Legate Apostolic for Ireland; and whom Honorius III, alike our predecessor, canonized. Yet more, we were to exhort you to cherish in your memories the very holy men Columbanus, Kylian, Virgil, Rumold, St Gall, with many others, who, coming out of Ireland, carried the True Faith over the provinces of the Continent, or established it with the blood of their martyrdom. Suffice it to commend you to bear in memory the religion and the piety of those who have preceded you, and their solicitude for the duties of their station, which has established their everlasting glory and happiness. And, in fine, cherish the virtues of your fathers - their piety and reverence for their pastors. Cherish the Faith that made them strong and invincible; be yours firm and immovable, as the rock on which it is founded; be yours illustrated with the earnest constancy of a Peter, the burning zeal of a Paul, the abiding confidence of a John."
Mary Maher, Footsteps of Irish Saints in the Dioceses of Ireland (London, 1927), v-vii.
Wishing everyone the blessings of the Feast and thank you to all who supports my work here at Omnium Sanctorum Hiberniae and on All the Saints of Ireland on Radio Maria. Beannachtaí na Féile oraibh go Léir! Orate pro nobis omnes Sancti Hiberniae!
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