By Susan Gately - 23 September, 2016
This evening (Friday 23 September) at 7pm, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin and the Minister for Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys, will officially launch Ministry Advocacy and Compassion a unique audio visual exhibition chronicling the role of the Church in the events of 1916.
For the first time, previously unseen historical documents from the Dublin Diocesan Archive will be on display alongside material from many other religious orders who were at the centre of events in Easter week.
The orders include the Capuchins, Dominicans, Franciscans, Irish Sisters of Charity, Jesuits, the Loreto Sisters and the Sisters of Mercy.
Among the artefacts which the public will now be able to view are the memoirs of Capuchin priest, Fr Columbus Murphy OSFC, entitled, ‘My experience in the 1916 Rising dated 29 July 1916.’
Because of their proximity to the centre of the fighting at Easter 1916, Fr Columbus and other Capuchins were asked to attend to the leaders of the Rising before they were executed.
They wrote moving testimonies of the bravery of the men and how they received the sacraments of reconciliation and communion.
“Fr Columbus in his account and also Fr Aloysius [Travers] would have attested that the men received communion with all devotion” comments Fr Bryan Shortall, Guardian of the Capuchin Friary Dublin.
Also recorded in the memoirs is Pearse’s reaction to the news that his brother in arms, James Connolly had also seen a priest.
“When Padraic Pearse heard that James Connolly had been seen by Fr Aloysius he said ‘That’s what I was hoping for, Thank God!’” says Fr Bryan.
“The narrative of all these friars who were administering to rebel leaders changed the perception of people and their attitude towards the rebel leaders,” says Brian Kirby, provincial archivist for the Capuchin Franciscan Province of Ireland.
Other documents that the Capuchins have contributed to the display from their archives are the ‘In Memoriam’ cards for some of the Rising leaders like Con Colbert, Michael O’Hanrahan and Edward Daly.
“This is an initiative of the archbishop of Dublin who was keen to see that the Church’s role in the Rising was told properly,” Mr Kirby told CatholicIreland.net.
The exhibition promises to “take people into the heart of the fighting during the Easter Rising, where Catholic Priests risked their lives to minister the Sacraments to the wounded and dying.”
“It examines the crucial acts of the nuns and clergy, as they responded to the immediate needs of the hungry and displaced by providing them with much-needed food and shelter and includes eyewitness accounts of those who ministered to the condemned leaders.”
The free exhibition which will run until the end of the year, includes the correspondence between Archbishop William Walsh and the authorities during and after the Rising and letters received from Joseph Mary Plunkett, Patrick Pearse, Fr Laurence Stafford and many others.