04 July 2015

Pope Francis gets to see
my new book before I do

With Professor Salvador Ryan and Mary O’Rourke at the launch of ‘Treasures of Irish Christianity’ in Maynooth this afternoon

Patrick Comerford

The third volume of Treasures of Irish Christianity was launched in Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth, this afternoon.

I have contributed two chapters to the latest volume in this series, edited by Salvador Ryan, Professor of Ecclesiastical History in Maynooth. One paper looks at Sir Richard Church (1784-1873), an Irish Anglican from Cork who became commander-in-chief of the Greek army during the war of independence in the early 19th century, and later became a life Senator in Greece.

The second paper tells of the story of the Stewart family from Dublin who went to China with what is now the Dublin University Far Eastern Mission, and were martyred in 1895.

Many of the contributors to this handsome and elegantly illustrated volume gathered in the Renehan Hall in Maynooth this afternoon for the launch of this new book, published by Veritas.

Father John-Paul Sheridan presents a box set of ‘Treasures of Irish Christianity’ to Pope Francis in Rome last week

But Salvador Ryan and Ciara Sherlock, Marketing Manager of Veritas told us the new book has already been put into the hands of Pope Francis in Rome.

Father John-Paul Sheridan was in Rome last week with his ordination class to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their ordinations. After Mass on Friday [26 June] in Casa Santa Marta, he presented Pope Francis with a box set of all three volumes of Treasures of Irish Christianity.

Volume III was officially published today when it was launched in Maynooth by the former Minister for Education, Mary O’Rourke. This volume looks at ‘the Irish abroad’ from the earliest centuries to the present day, with a special emphasis on the historical contribution of Irish missionaries.

The other topics include a retelling by Professor Raymond Gillespie of an account by the Revd Devereux Spratt, a 17th century Church of Ireland priest, of being captured by North African pirates; Father Michael Costelloe, the Galway-born priest who debated with the American abolitionist John Brown before his execution in 1859; an Irish Presbyterian missionary’s sermon that caused a whole social movement in 19th century New Zealand; the Brethren mission in China and the Dublin University Mission in Bengal; Irish military chaplains in World War I; and Father Hugh Sands, the missionary from Newry who met Mao Tse-tung.

Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth, in today’s summer sunshine (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

Treasures of Irish Christianity Volume III takes its cue from this year’s celebration of the 1,400th anniversary of the death of Saint Columbanus. It follows the successes of the previous volumes published in 2012 and 2013.

Treasures of Irish Christianity Volume II A People of the Word, edited by Salvador Ryan and Brendan Leahy, now Bishop of Limerick, “celebrates Irish Christian belief, tradition and practice over almost 1,600 years.”

Treasures of Irish Christianity People and Places, Images and Texts, also edited by Salvador Ryan and Brendan Leahy, was published as a contribution to the International Eucharistic Congress.

With Professor Crawford Gribben of Queen’s University Belfast at the book launch in Maynooth

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