Saturday 12 September 2020

Translation of the Relics of Blessed Thaddeus McCarthy

Ireland witnessed a special occasion on September 12 1897 with the translation from Ivrea in Italy to Cork of the relics of the fifteenth-century Bishop, Blessed  Thaddeus (Tadhg) McCarthy (1455-92). This humble and saintly man had been appointed Bishop of Ross but was illegally deprived of his See and died in Italy before he could return, vindicated, to Ireland. An Australian newspaper report gave its Irish expatriate community a flavour of the excitement of the day on which he finally came home four centuries later:
Blessed Thaddeus McCarthy.
The Catholics of Cork celebrated with great pomp and ceremony the translation of the remains of the Blessed Thaddeus McCarthy, a former Bishop of the diocese of Cork, who flourished in the latter part of the fifteenth century, and was beatified by the Church twelve months ago. The remains have been resting for four centuries in the Cathedral of Ivrea in Italy, but now they are deposited beneath the altar of St. Mary's Cathedral, Cork. A procession consisting of the clergy representing the the various dioceses, with their Bishops in full canonical vestments accompanied the remains, which were enshrined in a golden sarcophagus, and borne on the shoulders of four canons through the streets to the cathedral. The route was lined by members of the various religious confraternities and was decorated with triumphal arches and banners. High Mass was celebrated, and in the evening there was a display of fireworks from the Cathedral Tower, while illuminations were displayed on a large scale throughout the city.
 W.A. Record (Perth, WA: 1888 - 1922), Saturday 30 October 1897, page 6

 Here at home the occasion was commemorated by a poem from Alice Esmonde in The Irish Monthly. Alice Esmonde was the pseudonym of Tipperary woman Margaret Mary Ryan, a regular contributor of verse to this magazine. Here she contrasts the sad circumstances under which Blessed Thaddeus left his homeland centuries earlier with the warm welcome which greeted his return:


From the sunshine and the rain
Of the exiled centuries,
From the blue Italian seas,
You have come to us again:
Home to us and dear old Ireland,
To the Land of Saints, your sireland,
And to-morrow and to-morrow,
By the Lee that saw your sorrow
And your pain,

You will rest with sheaf and crown,
Home amongst us evermore,
Fair you found the Irish shore,
When September fields were brown —
You had anguish ere you left us,
For dissensions tore and reft us;
Now the city runs to meet you,
And your kith and kin to greet you
With renown.

You have won the victor's goal,
Kept your heart from earthly taint,
my Father, my Saint!—
Spotless, stainless, kept your soul.
How the bells ring out your glory
How the people tell the story,
As your ashes home they're bringing,
While the music and the singing
Proudly roll!

To God's Heaven when we pray,
You are there of our own kin;
Every Irish heart within,
There's a place for you alway.
How the people's hearts are swelling,
As with tears of love they're telling
Of your life so sad and holy.
Of the patience sweet and lowly
Of your day. 

Oh, the honours God pours down
On His victor in the strife!
Oh, the beauty of your life,
Oh, the glory of your crown!
Far away in glen and valley,
By the hill-side and the alley,
Tears of joy for you are stealing,
In the cabins where they're kneeling,
And the town.

Since you went in grief away,
Slow and slow the ages flow,
Full four hundred years ago —
Looking back seems yesterday —
Since on lonely deathbed lying
Far from home and Ireland dying,
In the still October even,
Angels bore your soul to Heaven,
Now we pray,

One dear hour to see your face.
Our sweet exile, our own Saint!
You whose lips made no complaint.
High of blood and brave of race.
Welcome, welcome home to Ireland,
To the Land of Saints, your sireland,
And we thank the Lord who crowned you,
For the glories that surround you.
For His grace.

Alice Esmonde

* Blessed Thaddeus, Bishop of Cork and Cloyne, died at Ivrea in Piedmont in 1492. His relics, which were kept there ever since with great reverence and with that fame of miracles, were deposited with joyful solemnity in the Cathedral of Cork, September 12th, 1897.

The Irish Monthly, Volume 25 (1897), 596-7.

The memory of this wonderful man, who so richly deserves to complete the path to official recognition of his sanctity, is cherished and upheld by the Blessed Thaddeus MacCarthy's Catholic Heritage Association. At their blog you can see pictures of the beautiful reliquary of Blessed Thaddeus in the Cathedral where he now rests.

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