Visit to the Pontifical Irish College

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View from the roof terrace of the Pontifical Irish College. In the foreground is the Augustinian Monastery of the Santi Quattro Coronati. The dome of Saint Peter's is visible in the distance

The Reverend Mr. Bernard Healy invited me to visit him at the Pontifical Irish College today. Before lunch he guided me through the house, pointing out the various works of art. Bernard knew of my special devotion to Blessed Abbot Columba Marmion (1858–1923), an alumnus of the College, and of my interest in Archbishop Tobias Kirby, its rector from 1850 to 1891.


The wood sculpture of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Regina Coeli, is the work of a contemporary Irish artist and is in the chapel of the Irish Martyrs.


In the same chapel is this tabernacle with its fine Celtic tracery. Bernard explained that its design is based on ancient Irish house reliquaries.


Would you have recognized him? This is none other than Blessed Abbot Columba Marmion, O.S.B. He was obliged to travel in disguise during World War I while searching for a refuge in Ireland for the monks of his abbey of Maredsous in Belgium.


This is the painting of Blessed Marmion — looking very abbatial — on the College's grand staircase.


On the opposite side of the same staircase one finds Saint Oliver Plunkett.


And this is Archbishop Tobias Kirby. Born on January 1, 1804, he was baptized on January 6, 1804. Kirby wrote an important thesis on Papal Infallibility. He was ordained in 1833 and was appointed Vice Rector of the Irish College in Rome in 1837, succeeding Cardinal Cullen as Rector in 1870. He was appointed Titular Bishop of Lita in 1882 and Archbishop of Ephesus in 1885. Old age obliged Archbishop Kirby to retire in 1891. He died on January 20, 1895 and was laid to rest in Rome.


Father, you mentioned on AbbeyRoads2 that you were always more "Marmionian than Mertonian." What would you suggest for reading as an introduction to Blessed Columba Marmion?

So many great Irish churchmen....

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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