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even the prelates and priests of their own religion, that the Holy See was obliged formally to interfere;' and Mr. Fitzpatrick quotes an official letter from Cardinal Litta to Archbishop Troy, dated the 14th of October 1815, in which the bitter complaints made by the 'Regulars of Ireland' are set forth.
The order to which the young priest attached himself, very much from the humility of his nature, was one of the poorest and most neglected at that time in the country, and certainly offered no worldly attractions to those who joined its few and feeble communities. Of the different subdivisions of the order of Minorites founded by Francis of Assisi, the Capuchins, or cowled, who followed the rigorous precepts laid down by Matthew Barchi, three hundred years after the death of the great saint, were the humblest and most mortified. To this section, represented at that time in Ireland by a few priests in the most important towns, Father Mathew freely and of his own choice attached himself; and with them he cast his lot in the Church. In these kingdoms the Catholic clergy, secular and regular, have but one means of support-the voluntary contributions of the people. There are, for them, no endowments, no glebes, no rent-charges, no Ecclesiastical Commissioners-the said functionaries being, it may be supposed, superfluous in connection with the Catholic Church. By the people alone are the churches built, the educational and charitable institutions maintained, the bishops and parish priests and curates, the monks and friars of various orders, supported, sheltered, and clothed throughout the entire country. Fifty years since, the priest was necessarily a heavier burden upon the people than he is now. A hundred years ago the Catholic population of Ireland did not exceed a million and a half of souls; and, consequently, when the Church began to revive after her long and dreary night of suffering, and her oppressors at length discovered that no enactment could crush her out of existence, or diminish her vitality, and so gave up actively oppressing, without, however, repealing the disgraceful laws which continued the power of oppression, the Catholic bishops endeavoured to keep the number of priests within the closest limits compatible with supplying the spiritual wants of their respective flocks. While acknowledging the value of the Regular Orders, the Irish bishops, were they so inclined, could scarcely encourage their coming among their already overburdened people, who would have to support them in addition to their ordinary pastors; and this policy, on the part of the bishops generally, and which in some dioceses assumed the regularity of a system, led to much unhappiness amongst those Regulars who ventured to establish themselves in the different towns. This condition of affairs, so far from deterring, rather induced Father
HE LEAVES KILKENNY.
Mathew to join the Capuchins, whose watchword—' humility the guiding principle of his life.
As it has been already stated, the young priest had not been long in Kilkenny before his worth was discovered. The Friary, which was not particularly well attended previously, became popular; his confessional was constantly crowded; and the people, rich as well as poor, came to him for advice and consolation. But his career in this the first scene of his missionary labours was soon brought to an end. In certain dioceses the Regulars were more restricted than in others. As a rule, they were not endowed with 'functions'-the power of administering Baptism and Extreme Unction, the first and last Sacraments. Their chapels, too, were under particular regulations. For instance, parishioners were not permitted to approach the Paschal Communion within their walls, and friars were restrained from administering it, though at all other seasons except Easter it was permitted. Also, friars could not perform the marriage ceremony without special permission. There were other distinctions between Seculars and Regulars; but those mentioned were the most remarkable. Many of them hold to this day, and, it must be remarked, without having their justice or necessity questioned.
A circumstance occurred which brought his mission in Kilkenny to a rather abrupt and unexpected termination. The bishop in those days was the Right Rev. Dr. Marum, a highly educated and conscientious man, with, however, very strong notions of church discipline. On Saturday evening, Father Mathew was, as usual, in his confessional, the doors of which were besieged by a crowd of penitents awaiting their turn for admission. He was closely engaged in his sacred duty, when an ecclesiastic entered the chapel, walked direct to his confessional, and handed him a document of an urgent nature. Father Mathew opened it, read the first few lines, rose from his seat, and departed humbly from the church, saying to his anxious flock, who felt that something strange was about to happen- Go to your other clergymen; I have no power to hear your confession any longer.' He had received a command from the bishop to cease hearing confessions on the alleged ground of his having, contrary to the regulations of the diocese, administered Paschal Communion. A report spread abroad that Father Mathew had been suspended, and the circumstance under which he had received the order from the bishop gave some show of probability to the rumour. It was but a rumour; yet the deprivation so imposed cut him to the soul. He determined to leave Kilkenny without delay, and seek some other diocese; which intention he put into immediate execution. The bishop discovered, when too late, that the complaint on which he so rigorously acted was entirely
groundless, and that the young friar had never infringed the regulation of the diocese. Explanations and apologies were offered; but Fathe Mathew's resolution was not to be changed, and he hastened his departure from the scene of his first mission. Ever after, the bishop deplored his own hastiness in this transaction, and did all in his powe to lighten the effects of a blow which he could not recall.
The Little Friary-Father Arthur O'Leary-His Character and Influ-
REMOTE from the din of traffic, and shut out from the public eye, there then, and for many years after, existed in the city of Cork a little chapel of humble pretensions, both as to appearance and accommodation. This diminutive place of worship had been erected by a celebrated member of the Capuchin Order, a man whose strong and powerful intellect and scholarly attainments were devoted as well to the defence of his persecuted or endangered faith, as to the promotion of liberal and tolerant opinions, and the maintenance of social order. This was the famous Father Arthur O'Leary. As a priest, he was pious, zealous, charitable; as a public writer, he was bold, eloquent, of lively fancy, and replete with that humorous vein which is so useful to a cause, and so damaging to an opponent. Fearless and formidable champion to the oppressed, as he proved himself to be during many trying years, while the mass of his countrymen were slowly emerging from an oppression against which it seemed almost useless to contend, it was only natural that Father O'Leary should be loved and honoured by those of his own communion; while his earnest advocacy of toleration and Christian concord among all men, whatever their faith, and his well-meant efforts to repress lawless and destructive combinations of the peasantry, earned for him the respect of his Protestant and Dissenting brethren. Such, indeed, was his deserved influence with the leading members of the Irish Parliament, that he on more than one occasion saved the Regular Orders from the revival of old penalties, or the imposition of new restrictions. He encountered, and confessedly overthrew, some of the most famous political and polemical
THE REV. ARTHUR O'LEARY.
writers of the day, and these successful efforts rendered his name celebrated in England as in Ireland; but the production which most added to his fame and enhanced his influence, was one styled 'An Essay on Toleration, or Mr. O'Leary's Plea for Liberty of Conscience.' Very much owing to this remarkable work, he was elected a member of a society, partly political and partly social, known as the Monks of St. Patrick, which took its rise under the auspices of Mr. Yelverton, afterwards Lord Avonmore, and to which belonged many of the celebrated and leading men of the day. During a debate in the Irish House of Commons, on the Catholic Bill of 1782, testimonies of the most flattering kind were borne to the merits of Father O'Leary. These testimonies were the more remarkable, as the assembly in which they were spoken consisted exclusively of Protestant gentlemen. Mr. Grattan describes this Franciscan friar as 'poor in everything but genius and philosophy;' and he added-'If I did not know him to be a Christian clergyman, I should suppose him, by his writings, to be a philosopher of the Augustan age. Mr. St. George would, for the sake of one celebrated character of their body, be tolerant to the rest.' Sir Lucius O'Brien did not approve of the Regulars,' but he spoke with respect of 'the Reverend Doctor Arthur O'Leary.' In five years after, Mr. Curran, during a debate in the same House, bore his personal testimony to the character of this remarkable man :- -'Mr. O'Leary is, to my knowledge, a man of the most innocent and amiable simplicity of manners in private life.' A still more interesting evidence of his merit is afforded by his biographer, the late Rev. Thomas England, who states that the late Bishop Murphy, of Cork, when a mere youth, was frequently the almoner of Father O'Leary's charities; and that a number of reduced roomkeepers and tradesmen were, on every Monday morning, relieved by the good friar. The general average of his weekly charities amounted to 21., and sometimes to 31. His biographer justly remarks-'When it is recollected that the poor Capuchin had no income, except what was derived from the contributions of those who frequented his chapel, the charitable disposition of his heart and mind will be duly appreciated.'
There was a time, however, when the resources of the good priest were not so flourishing, as the following incident will prove. Father O'Leary had many Protestant friends, who admired his ability, and sympathised with his opinions, so full of liberality and Christian charity. One in particular, Mr. Joseph Bennett, a well-known lawyer of the day, was most intimate with the distinguished friar, and frequently visited the little chapel, to enjoy the pleasure of hearing his friend preach. On a certain St. Patrick's Day, Mr. Bennett was in his accustomed place, listening with delight to a noble discourse on the life and labours of the National Saint. The preacher and his
Protestant admirer dined together the same day. During dinner the latter remarked-Father O'Leary, that was a splendid sermon of yours on St. Patrick.' 'Didn't I give him a beautiful new coat today?' said the preacher, in his usual jocular tone. Indeed you did,' replied his friend. 'And how much do you think I got for my work?' 'I can't tell-I have no notion; only I know it deserved more than it got.' 'Well, let us see,' said Father O'Leary-'there is the box, on the chair near you. Turn it up, and count its contents.' The box was turned up, and its contents were counted. Eighteenpence-halfpenny!' exclaimed Mr. Bennett in deep disgust. 'Well, my dear child,' said the priest, with a smile, 'that's what St. Patrick gave me for his grand new coat.'
Father O'Leary gained more by a reply which he made to a respectable member of the Society of Friends, than from his splendid panegyric of St. Patrick. Going about the city on his annual collection for the support of his chapel, he called into the thriving shop of this worthy Quaker. He made his application, and was answered by a decided refusal. 'Then,' said he, as if speaking to himself, 'I know for whom it will be worse;' and he turned to leave the shop. 'What, friend!' said the Quaker, 'dost thou mean to threaten?' 'Not I, indeed,' replied the friar. Then what didst thou mean when thee said thee knew for whom it would be worse?' 'Why, it would be worse for myself, to be sure, if I didn't get the money,' said O'Leary, with a look of drollery which betrayed the sedate friend into a hearty laugh. Then, if that was all thee meant, here is a guinea for thee,' said the Quaker.
Father O'Leary was engaged in rather a fierce controversy with Dr. Woodward, the Protestant Bishop of Cloyne. Indeed it would be more correct to say he defended himself from a fierce attack from his right reverend assailant. It was in reply to an envenomed attack, in which the friars, and O'Leary in particular, were treated with scant courtesy, that a passage, replete with sarcastic humour, thus concludes: 'It is equal to us where a man pays his debts, whether here or in purgatory, provided he pays us ourselves what he owes us; and however clamorous a mitred divine may be about a popish purgatory, he may perhaps go farther and speed worse.'
Father O'Leary left Cork for London in the year 1789, when he became connected with St. Patrick's Chapel, Soho Square, in which he officiated till his death, in 1802, in the 73rd of his age.
In one of his public letters, written in the 'Little Friary,' while yet striking hard blows in the cause of religious freedom, he describes himself as 'a poor friar, buried between salt-houses and stables.' And this was a literal description of his place of residence, the scene alike of his priestly duties and his literary labours.