Thursday, 3 September 2015

Latin Mass Pilgrimage to Wicklow Town

St. Patrick's Church, is set strikingly on a hill overlooking the scenic and historic coastal town of Wicklow.  Although the area has been populated for thousands of years, the town itself was settled by the vikings about the year 800.  To that extent, it is older even than Dublin City.  The Irish name Cill Mhantáin, or Church of the toothless, is replaced by the Norse Vikló, or harbour of the meadow.
 
The town would have found itself in the Gaelic Diocese of Glendalough, which extended across the whole of what is now the Archdiocese of Dublin.  Viking Dublin did not have a Bishop until Donatus was consecrated in 1038.  At the Synod of Rathbreasail in 1118, Dublin is not mentioned.  At the Synod of Kells in 1152, the Diocese of Glendalough was divided, giving the northern portion of its territory to Dublin, which also received a Metropolitan pallium.  Gregory became the first Archbishop of Dublin and was succeeded by St. Laurence O'Toole.  In 1185, King John decreed the union of Glendalough to Dublin but it wasn't sanctioned by the Pope until 1216.
 
In the valley between the Catholic Church and Anglican church and at the medieval town gate lie the ruins of a Franciscan Abbey, built about the year 1265.  Only elements of the south transept and nave are visible today.
 
As already noted in the post on the pilgrimage to Bray, the facade of the Church is remarkably similar to that of the original facade of the Church of the Holy Redeemer, Bray, and to other Churches by W.H. Byrne.  It was completed about 1840 to an unknown architect's design, where there is a gap in Byrne's list of works.  Therefore, it may cautiously be attributed to him. 
 
Members and friends of St. Laurence's Catholic Heritage Association made a pilgrimage there on Saturday, 22nd August, including a Mass celebrated by a Priest of the Diocese.
 

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

A Timeline of St. Laurence O'Toole


1128 - Born in Castledermot, Co. Kildare
1154 - Became Abbot of Glendalough to succeed Abbot Dunlaing
1161 - First Native Irish Archbishop of Dublin
1162 - Consecrated Bishop by Galesius, Archbishop of Armagh
1163 - Established the Canons Regular of Arouasia at the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity
1166 - Established the Priory of All Hallows of the Canons Regular of Arouasia
1167 - Attended the Council of Athboy
1170 - Presided as Papal Legate at the Council of Clonfert
1171 - Visited Henry II in Normandy, violently attacked while processing to Mass
1172 - Attended the Synod of Cashel
1175 - Negotiated the Treaty of Windsor
1176 - Presided at the funeral of Strongbow
1178 - Synod of Dublin presided over by Cardinal Vivian as Papal Legate
1179 - Attended the Third Lateran Council under Pope Alexander III
1180 - Died at Eu in Normandy
1225 - Canonised by Pope Honorius III
1227 - The body of St. Laurence enshrined at Eu

Friday, 10 July 2015

Traditional Latin Mass in Bray, County Wicklow

This is the first occasion on which our Association has made a pilgrimage to Wicklow, the Garden of Ireland. On 4th July, we made a pilgrimage to Bray for a Traditional Latin Mass in the Church of the Holy Redeemer on the Main Street. Building upon the existing Chapel of c. 1824, our old friend Patrick Byrne enlarged the Church and added a tower and facade strikingly similar to St. Patrick's, Wicklow Town (c. 1844) and to Byrne's St. John's, Blackrock (c. 1845).  W.H. Byrne further enlarged the Chapel into the present envelope, a Romanesque Church with colonnaded transepts and an apsidal Sanctuary c. 1894-1898, for Most Reverend Nicholas Donnelly, D.D., P.P., V.G., then Parish Priest of Bray and Greystones, Bishop of Canae and Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin.  Presumably at the same time as the modernist facade was added (1965) the sanctuary was re-ordered and the organ erected in the apse.










Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Ad Multos Annos Your Eminence


To His Eminence, Raymond Leo, Cardinal Burke,  Cardinal Patron of the Sovereign Order of Malta, Prefect Emeritus of the Apostolic Signatura, Cardinal Deacon of S. Agata dei Goti, we wish a very happy birthday!

Monday, 22 June 2015

The Fall of Fort St. Elmo

The Fall of Fort St. Elmo

On this the 450th anniversary of the fall of Fort St. Elmo I am re-posting an article from 2009.

What these few knights, soldiers and civilians withstood for a horrifying month is nothing short of miraculous. Below is an excerpt of a talk given by Michael Davies in 2002 that was part of a conference given at the Dietrich von Hildebrand Institute 2002 Summer Symposia entitled “The 1st Through 8th Crusades; Military Orders; Catharist Crusade; and the Siege of Malta.” The full article can be read here, it describes some of what they went through during that month.

Mustapha finally acknowledged that St. Elmo could not be taken within that day and ordered the recall. St. Angelo's suddenly heard a burst of cheering from their brothers in St. Elmo. They had lost 200 men in the battle, in comparison to 2,000 Turks. But they knew the end was near, for there would be no more reinforcements.

St. Elmo's men readied themselves for a fight to the death. The two chaplains who had stayed with the defenders throughout the siege confessed the remaining knights and soldiers. Determined that the Mohammedans would not have the opportunity to mock or desecrate their holy relics, the knights and the chaplains hid the precious objects of the Faith beneath the stone floors of the chapel, and dragged the tapestries, pictures and wooden furniture outside and set them on fire
. They then tolled the bell of the small chapel to announce to their brethren in the nearby forts that they were ready for the end.

In the gray pre-dawn light of the 23rd of June, Piali's ships closed in for the kill. The galleys, pointing their lean bows at the ruined fort, opened up their bow chasers in unison with the first charge made by the entire Turkish army. To the astonishment of Mustapha and his council, Fort St. Elmo held for over an hour. Less than 100 men remained after that first onslaught, yet the Ottoman army was forced to draw back and re-form. The knights who were too wounded to stand placed themselves in chairs in the breach with swords in their hands.

There was something about the next attack that told the garrisons looking on from Birgu and Senglea that all was over. The white-robed troops poured down the slopes, hesitated like a curling roller above the wall, and then burst across the fort, spreading like an ocean over St. Elmo. One by one the defenders perished, some quickly and mercifully, others dying of wounds among the bodies of their friends.

The Italian Knight Francisco Lanfreducci, acting on orders received before the battle began, crossed to the wall opposite Bighi Bay and lit the signal fire. As the smoke curled up and eddied in the clear blue sky, La Valette knew that the heroic garrison and the fort they had defended to the end were lost.

It was now that Mustapha Pasha impatiently strode to view his conquest. A standard-bearer carrying the banner of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent stepped through the breach into St. Elmo. Standing victorious on the ruins of St. Elmo's walls, with the flag of St. John in the dust at his feet, Mustapha gazed at the massive bulk of Fort St. Angelo on the horizon. “Allah!” he cried. “If so small a son has cost us so dear, what price shall we have to pay for so large a father?”

In an offensive act of cruelty, he ordered the bodies of the knights to be set apart from the common soldiers. Their heads were struck from their bodies and fixed on stakes overlooking Grand Harbor. The beheaded corpses were then stripped of their mail, nailed to crossbeams of wood in mockery of the crucifixion, and launched onto the waters of Grand Harbor that night.

It was the eve of the Feast of St. John, the patron saint of the Order. Despite the loss of St. Elmo, the Grand Master had given orders for the normal celebrations to take place. Bonfires were lit and church bells were rung throughout Birgu and Senglea. The next morning the headless bodies of the knights washed up at the base of Fort St. Angelo.

Image  THE CAPTURE OF FORT ST. ELMO by Mateo Perez d’Aleccio

The Last Day Before the Fall of St. Elmo

From an account of the Great Siege of Malta from the Malta Heritage Site. On the day before the fall of Fort St. Elmo the remaining 100 defenders, without ammunition, their leaders dead and themselves half dead from exhaustion and their own wounds prepared themselves for the final battle.

As the hours passed and no relief came, the survivors in Fort St Elmo realized that no help was going to come to them. With this bitter recognition, they resigned themselves to their fate and they started to comfort each other through these agonizing moments. They were determined to die in the service of Jesus Christ and although they were half dead from fatigue, they never rested but worked to improve their defences.
This was surely a dreadful time for our men and to make things worse, the enemy spent the whole night bombarding them, sounding the alarm and skirmishing. Clearly, they did so in order to break down the defenders so that by morning, they would be completely worn out.
As their end seemed to get closer by the hour, the last defenders of Fort St Elmo confessed to each other and implored Our Lord to have mercy on their souls for the sake of the blood that He had shed for their redemption.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

The Monthly Sodality of Our Lady Mass

Since 2003, the Sodality of Our Lady monthly Mass has been taking place in the Lady Chapel of Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman's University Church on St. Stephen's Green in central Dublin.  The meeting on 1st Saturdays at 10.30 a.m., begins with the Rosary and other prayers in Latin, followed by a Traditional Latin Mass.  Members of St. Laurence's Catholic Heritage Association take a full part in the Sodality's activities, including organising the serving of the Masses.  The 'Virgin blue' ribbons worn by some of those serving our Masses are the traditional ribbons and medals of this Sodality.  The Sodality meeting in University Church was founded on 1st May, 1853.  At its highest point, over 800 such Sodalities of Our Lady were operating all over Ireland.  Today only a few remain, tenaciously preserving their traditions.


Friday, 5 June 2015

Defenders Repeat their Plea to Withdraw From St. Elmo

It has been a week since the bombardment of Fort St. Elmo began and nearly two weeks since Commander Eguaras sent the Spanish Captain Juan de la Cerda to inform La Vallette that the Fort could not be defended and seek his permission to withdraw. During this time the knights and the other defenders had fought bravely but the incessant bombardment that was only strengthening was having a demoralizing effect on them. Dracut's artillery was firing from multiple locations in such a way to prevent the troops in Fort St. Elmo from having any safe place of refuge.

The men met in the piazza to discuss their plight and this time agreed to send Captain Medrano to the Grand Master to again inform him of the desperate situation they faced and the fact that it would be soon impossible to defend the Fort. The failure of relief troops to appear as promised and the determined efforts of the enemy meant that time was running out before a full scale invasion. La Vallette realized that this was only too true but knew also that each hour that the attention of the Ottomans was on Fort St. Elmo it gave the other defenses of the Knights the time to strengthen themselves. He was unwilling to give away the Fort and encouraged Medrano to remind the defenders of their duty and to continue battling as they had always done. He promised to send more relief and recalled Fra Giovanni Vagnone and a hundred of his men from Mdina to reinforce the troops at St. Elmo.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

History Channel Documentary on the Great Siege of Malta

Here is an excellent documentary video from the History Channel describing the Great Siege of Malta from a warriors perspective of the history, tactics, weapons used. One of the highlights was the description of the medical care of the wounded and how to treat specific injuries. Presented by US Army Special Forces Terry Scahppert.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

The Arrival of Dragut at the Great Siege of Malta

On June 2nd, Admiral Dragut the legendary pirate and enemy of the Knights of St. John and all Christians in the Mediterranean arrived with his fleet at Malta. His appearance was undoubtedly a blow to the spirits of the knights who recognized the skill of their great adversary. As LaValette and Sir Oliver Starkey watched his arrival, Starkey muttered, "God help us." To which the Grand Master replied, "Yes, now the real battle begins."

Known as the "drawn sword of Islam" Dragut was to be equally feared on land and sea. A skilled tactician he immediately recognized the imprudent attack and siege of Fort St. Elmo but realized that once committed they could not change course. Until his arrival the knights had benefitted from the discord between the two Pasha's. Now they would regard his wisdom in making their decisions.

Ottoman Approach of Fort St. Elmo on May 27, 1565

Ottoman Approach of Fort St. Elmo on May 27, 1565

The Bombardment of Fort St. Elmo Begins

Fort St. Elmo was well placed to defend the Grand Harbor from attack by sea but its low lying position at the base of the penisula left it vulnerable to attack from Mt. Scibberas as the high ground at the top of the peninsula. As the commander of Ottoman naval forces, Piali Pasha wanted to secure his fleet in the Harbor he argued that Fort St. Elmo must be captured and the first point of attack. Mustafa Pasha opposed this plan but finally relented, assuming that it would only take a few days to destroy the fort. Mustafa began moving his cannons into position for the assault and the bombardment of Fort St. Elmo began on May 24th.

Initially St. Elmo was defended by a modest number of knights and several hundred soldiers and other Maltese citizens. But each night of the siege the wounded were evacuated and new knights were smuggled in to reinforce those who wereTo attack St. Elmo, the Turkish troops had to cross a moat under fire. The defenders had raised their drawbridges and broken down other bridges so the Turks had to construct portable bridges. Such massed attacks were costly in terms of casualties, but the Ottoman commanders had little regard for the lives of their men.