Thursday, July 5, 2012
STEPHEN DALY: THE FIRST IRISH CAPUCHIN TO WORK IN IRELAND
Above is an image of Francis Lavalin Nugent (1569-1635) the first Irish Capuchin. He joined the friars on the Continent, became a provincial of one of the French Provinces and pestered the Pope to let him form a mission to Ireland. From the friary at Charleville, on the river Meuse in the Champagne region, France and not far from present day Belgium and Luxembourg. If you want to know more of him you can read Fr. F.X. Martin's book on him.
I am posting this because yesterday fifteen of our friars attended a celebration of the life of Br. Stephen Daly (1574-1619) the first Irish Capuchin friar-priest to work in Ireland. It is not easy for us to imagine the courage that returning to Ireland took. Being a Catholic was tantamount to treason, worse if you were a priest. On top of that he was a friar. It is equivalent to a priest seeking to work in the underground Church in China or Saudi Arabia. There were none of the supports we take for granted today. He relied on contacts and trusted in family connections. All this sacrifice was made to sustain the Catholic faith and the Irish people in a time of great suffering. He was here for four years until his death and his memory is still kept in Ferbane, Co Offaly. Of course it was his home turf (literally as the place is all bog) but he is remembered because he still answers prayers four hundred years later. A plaque has been erected on the wall near his grave.