Sunday, 17 January 2016
The Archiepiscopal See of Dublin (1161 - 1180)(Walsh)
From Walsh's History of the Irish Hierarchy, 1854, c. xvi, p. 106 ff:
St. Lawrence O'Toole, was the next archbishop of Dublin, was the youngest son of the hereditary lord of Imaile, the head of one of the septs eligible to the kingdom of Leinster, and which also maintained the privilege of electing the bishops and abbots of Glendaloch, even after the union of this see with Dublin. The father's principality was situated in the district of Wicklow, to which he was also attached in the maternal line, his mother having been of the O'Byrnes, a family revered by the Irish nation. St. Lawrence received his education in the school of the romantic valley of Glendaloch.
At the early age of ten years he was distinguished beyond his contemporaries and the ardor of his patriotic disposition soon manifested itself for, on receiving him as a hostage from his father, the cruel tyrant Mac Murrough, who oppressed the most worthy chieftains of Leinster, was induced to avert the worst inflictions of his abused power. When under the subjection of this tyrant, he began to endure persecution in perfect consonance with the cruel character of Mac Murrough. He was confined in a barren and unsheltered spot and only allowed a quality of food which would preserve his existence for torture and illtreatment treatment. Having heard of the sufferings to which his son was subjected, and fully aware that remonstrances or entreaty would be ineffectual, perhaps would be responded to with more barbarity, the distracted parent, by a successful sally from his mountain fastness, captured twelve of Mac Murrough's soldiers whom he threatened instantly to put to death unless his son was restored to his home. The threat was effective and the father once more embraced his beloved son in the Valley of Glendaloch.
In this valley, which nature marked as her favorite retreat for study and contemplation, Lawrence renewed his studies and resigning the claims of birth and inheritance devoted his talents to the service of religion and gave such preeminent signs of his knowledge, piety and purity that he was, in his twenty fifth year, at the solicitation of clergy and people, chosen to preside over the Abbey of Glendaloch. His charity to the poor during four successive years of distress was conspicuous and, by his uniform rectitude, he confounded the efforts of calumny, and by his firm yet merciful superintendence of his charge, converted the district from being a wicked waste to a state of moral and religious cultivation.
When the bishop of the see, Giolla na Naomh, died, Lawrence was at once chosen to fill the vacant chair but Lawrence, excusing himself on the fewness of his years, declined the honor which was intended. However, Providence was reserving him for a more exalted sphere of action for, on the death of Gregory, the archbishop of Dublin, he was elected his successor, a promotion which he would also have declined were he not induced to accede by the representations of the good he might accomplish. He was consecrated in Christ Church Dublin AD 1162 by Gelasius, archbishop of Armagh, assisted by many bishops and, thus, was discontinued the custom which the Danes introduced, of sending the bishops of their cities to Canterbury for consecration.
The Archbishop Lawrence assumed the habit of the regular canons of Aroasia, an abbey that was founded in the diocese of Arras about eighty years previously and justly celebrated for sanctity and discipline, in order that he might the more effectually engage his clergy of the cathedral to adopt the same rule. He caused the poor, sometimes forty in number, sometimes more, to be fed every day in his presence. The rich he entertained with becoming splendor, yet he never partook of the luxuries of the table. When the duties of his station would permit, he retired to the scene of his early training and, removed from worldly intercourse, his spirit communed with his God in the cave in which S. Kevin inflicted his voluntary chastisements.
In 1167 he assisted at the council which King Roderick assembled at Athboy and, though its object was to obtain more satisfactory and indisputable acknowledgment of the sovereignty of the monarch and to calculate the amount of aid he might expect in resisting the auxiliaries of Mac Murrough whom he had expelled from his throne, yet the council passed many ordinances relative to the privileges of churches and clergy and also the regulation of public morality and religious discipline. As legate he also presided at a synod held in Clonfert AD 1170.
The Welsh adventurers having invaded the kingdom, the prelate of Dublin firmly adhered to the independence of his country and encouraged the inhabitants of Dublin to make a vigorous defence but his efforts were unsuccessful, for the citizens, dismayed by the martial array and discipline of the invaders, entreated their prelate to become the mediator of peace, and while passing through the lines of the besiegers with this view and the terms being under discussion, Raymond le Gros and Milo de Cogan, with a party of young and fiery spirits, scaled the walls and, having possessed the city, committed frightful carnage. The charity of the archbishop was eminently conspicuous on this mournful occasion. At the risk of his own life he traversed over the streets of the metropolis protesting against the ruin which he could not control, from the invader's grasp he snatched the panting body and administered the consolations of religion to the dead, the hasty service of a grave and to the wretched survivors all that their necessities could require or his means afford.
On other occasions, his love of his country's cause prompted him to espouse every effort by which her independence might be reasserted. Having been sent to England in 1175 along with Catholicus O'Duffy, archbishop of Tuam, as the representatives of Roderick O'Connor, the monarch of Ireland, to arrange the terms of a treaty between him and the king of England, he visited the shrine of St. Thomas a Becket at Canterbury, and there narrowly escaped the hands of an insane individual who supposed that he would perform a meritorious action by assimilating his fate with the martyred prelate of Canterbury. While celebrating Mass, the maniac rushed upon him and inflicted grievous wounds upon his head. The king on hearing of the circumstance would have put the offender to death but the archbishop interceded and his life was spared. And when an ulcer in the foot terminated the life of Strongbow, St. Lawrence attended his obsequies, forgetting in the hopes that point to everlasting life, the desolation which his ruthless and savage career inflicted on the flock which was entrusted to his charge.
The extraordinary death of Strongbow is ascribed to the vengeance of Heaven for his sacrileges towards the churches of Saints Columba, Bridget and other saints whose shrines he had violated. He saw, as he thought, St. Bridget in the act of slaying him. In the Annals of Innisfallen he is described as the greatest destroyer of the clergy and laity that came to Ireland since the time of Turgesius, the Danish tyrant. The father in law of Strongbow, Mac Murrough, died in 1171 of an intolerable disease. He became putrid while living and died without the eucharist and extreme unction as his evil deeds deserved. Adrian IV, the Pontiff who authorised the second Henry of England to annex Ireland to his crown, died by swallowing a fly in a cup of water. In 1177 Cardinal Vivian presided as legate at a council held in Dublin where the right of the English monarch in virtue of the Pope's authority was further inculcated. There is, however, no evidence that the archbishop of Dublin took part in this proceeding.
In 1179 Lawrence with some other Irish prelates proceeded to Rome to attend the second general council of Lateran. On passing through England King Henry exacted from them an oath that they would not prejudice him or his empire in the progress of their mission. While at Rome, Lawrence was appointed legate of Ireland. In 1180 he again travelled out of Ireland with the son of Roderick O'Connor, whom he placed as a hostage in the hands of Henry II, then sojourning in Normandy. There he was detained by the King whose displeasure he had incurred through making representations to Rome of the harsh and cruel Anglo Irish government. Seeing the land of his birth and the patrimony of his ancestors become the inheritance of strangers, he labored to avert the evils that were permitted to exist under the name of English rule and to place his country, which its own internal divisions weakened and left an easy prey to the hardy adventurer, under the lawful protection of the English sovereign and rescue it from the despotism of English officials. The restraints thus put upon him unjustly hastened his dissolution. Sickness seized him in Normandy and anxious, as he was aware of his approaching demise, to close his days in the peaceful and silent cloister, he repaired to the monastery of Regular Canons at Eu and there expired on the 14th of November 1180. Even on his deathbed he despatched a monk of the brotherhood to implore peace for Ireland and the assent of the king was communicated before his death but peace was not the object of the sovereign of England.
Immediately after the burial of the archbishop at Eu, Henry II dispatched Jeoffrey de la Hay, his chaplain, into Ireland to seize the revenues of the see which he retained for a year. The remains of the holy prelate were placed in a shrine before the altar of the martyr Leodegarius but, when the prelate was canonized in 1218 by Pope Honorius III, they were translated with great solemnity and placed over the high altar and there preserved in a silver shrine. St. Lawrence is the patron saint of the diocese of Dublin.