Thursday, 11 August 2016

The Archiepiscopal See of Dublin (1528-1669)(Walsh)


Saint Michan's Church, Dublin

From Walsh's History of the Irish Hierarchy, 1854, c. xvi, p. 123 ff:

Eugene Mathews succeeded in 1611, was parish priest of Clogher and in August 1609 became bishop of the church of that see from which he was translated to the archdiocese of Dublin in May 1611. The period of his translation was one of imminent danger as Andrew Knox, the bishop of Orkney, was removed to Raphoe in Ireland with the avowed object of annihilating the Catholic faith of the Irish church. This blood thirsty wretch who pretended to be the guardian and successor of the apostolic commission of feeding and teaching the lambs and sheep of the fold was the immediate adviser of those cruel and savage edicts requiring the clergy of the ancient faith to quit the kingdom under pain of death.

Notwithstanding this denunciation against ecclesiastics, the archbishop Eugene presided at a conference held at Kilkenny in October 1614 and on this occasion decrees were enacted:

first for the reception of the canons of the council of Trent as circumstances would permit;
secondly for the establishment of vicars and the appointment of deans to preside over the priesthood;
thirdly for the due qualifications of the clergy before appointment;
fourthly the administration of baptism by aspersion on the head instead of immersion, the registry of the names of parents, children and sponsors, the exaction of dues from the known poor prohibited under pain of suspension;
fifthly to provide for the decorous celebration of the Divine mysteries, directing the celebrant, as he was obliged, to offer up the sacrifice in the open air and in unconsecrated spots, to select a clean place sheltered from wind and rain.
The sixth provides for the publicity and registering of marriages, the qualifications of the contracting parties, and the prevention of clandestine contracts.
The seventh for the maintenance of the clergy by collections from their flocks.
Eighth provides for the character of the clergy prohibits mercantile pursuits farming and especially interference in matters of state or politics.
Ninth restrains preaching on articles of faith by any but those who were approved.
Tenth prevents disputations on matters of faith or discussions on religious subjects during convivial hours.
Eleventh consults for the due observance of fasts and abstinence

In 1615, on the occasion of the regal visitation, the commissioners reported that Eugene Mathews, titular archbishop of Dublin, was secretly harbored therein and on the 13th of October 1617 a proclamation issued from the castle of Dublin for the expulsion of all the regular clergy and a certain individual John Boyton was commissioned to discover them, nor was Boyton remiss in performing his duty, as he detected many of them and also some of the nobles who sheltered them, all of whom were thrown into prison, while the judges on circuit were instructed to enforce the penalties and fines against recusants who did not attend the Protestant service.

Eugene Mathews was obliged at length to yield to the storm. He retired to the Netherlands, where he died in 1623.

Thomas Fleming, a Franciscan friar of the family of the barons of Slane and sometime professor of theology in Louvain was on the 23d of October 1623 and in the 30th year of his age appointed archbishop of Dublin by Pope Urban VIII. Immediately on his promotion to the archdiocese Paul Harris a secular priest began to inveigh bitterly against the selection of prelates from the class of regulars, he also attacked the friars. But at length Cardinal Barberini, prefect of the Propaganda, felt compelled to interfere and accordingly directed the bishop of Meath to banish him from the diocese of Dublin but the bishop of Meath, dreading the civil power, did not wish to act and this turbulent priest at once declared that he would not retire unless compelled by the authority of King Charles. The ensuing years of Archbishop Fleming appear to have passed in the silent and unobtrusive exercise of his ecclesiastical functions.

In 1642, he appeared at Kilkenny through his proxy, the Rev. Joseph Everard, but when the designs of the government became more apparent and that the extinction of the Catholics and their faith was the object, the archbishop of Dublin felt himself obliged to participate in person in the counsels of the confederates at Kilkenny and thereupon appointed Doctor Edmond O'Reilly to fill the station of vicar general in his absence. As one of the members for Leinster, the Archbishop Fleming sat in the council and on the 20th of June, 1643, together with the archbishop of Tuam, the only two among the prelates who did so, authorized Nicholas Viscount Gormanstown, Sir Lucas Dillon, Sir Robert Talbot and others to treat with the Marquis of Ormond, who was obliged to temporise for the cessation of arms. In the ensuing month, Father Peter Scarampa, an Oratorian and a man of consummate prudence and learning, arrived with supplies of money and ammunition from Rome on the part of the supreme pontiff Urban VIII, to whom the celebrated Luke Wadding made known the sufferings of the Irish Catholics and their efforts to preserve themselves and their faith from utter extinction.

In 1644, the archbishop of Dublin was present at the general assembly of Kilkenny in which it was agreed and confirmed by an oath of association that every confederate should bear true faith and allegiance to the king and his heirs to maintain the Roman Catholic faith and religion and to obey the orders and decrees of the supreme council. Father Scarampa remained in the discharge of his commission at Kilkenny until November, 1645, when John Baptist Rinuccini, archbishop and prince of Fermo, arrived in the character of apostolic nuncio extraordinary. In the year 1648, Edmond O'Reilly was removed from the station of vicar general as it appears he had neither prudence or ability to sustain it, and the Rev. Lawrence Archbold was appointed in his stead. During the greater part of the year 1649 the prelate resided in his own diocese and at last he sunk into the grave in the midst of those persecutions by which the keen eyed vigilance of the persecutors drove the Catholic laity into the country. The priests and monks scarcely dare sleep even in the houses of their own people.  Their life was an earthly warfare and a martyrdom they breathed as by stealth among the hills and the woods and frequently in the abyss of bogs or marshes which the persecutors could not penetrate. Yet thither flocked congregations of poor Catholics to receive the doctrine of salvation and the bread of life. Yet the heretics in their hatred to the dogmas of the ancient creed of their fathers hurried through the mountains and woods exploring ploring the retreats of the clergy who were more hotly pursued than the wild beasts of the chase.  It became almost impossible that the Catholic hierarchy of Ireland could be kept up in its integrity. At the close of the year 1660 there were but three prelates of the Catholic church in the kingdom, the archbishop of Armagh, the bishops of Meath and Kilmore. The see of Dublin and the care of the province were placed under the jurisdiction and control of James Dempsey, vicar apostolic and capitular of Kildare.

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