Bishop Colm O’Reilly celebrates the commemorative Mass for the bicentenary of the death of Abbé Edgeworth

23 Sep 2007


23rd September 2007

Nothing can excuse indifference to the sacredness of human life – Bishop O’Reilly


The Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois, Bishop Colm O’Reilly, today celebrated Mass in the form of the Roman Rite at 11:00am at St Mary’s Church, Edgeworthstown, Co Longford. It was a commemorative Mass celebrating the bicentenary of the death of Abbé Edgeworth.


The Abbé Edgeworth, born in Edgeworthstown and baptised into the Anglican Church in this town where his father, Robert, was the Rector, is being honoured this morning in celebrations taking place simultaneously in this church and in the church where his father ministered. After this Mass, and the Service in St John’s Church, we are invited to a Prayer Service at the Rectory the birthplace of Henry Essex Edgeworth, who, as a Catholic Priest, would bring the comfort of his ministry to the last of the reigning Bourbon Kings of France.

The Abbé has an assured place in history for bravery, standing by the condemned Louis XVI as he died by the guillotine. This Commemorative Mass is celebrated in the form of the Roman Rite in which the Abbé celebrated Mass for the doomed monarch. We honour a man whose life speaks of profound respect for the sacredness of life at a time when France was experiencing the genocide of the Reign of Terror.

I find it sadly ironic that at this very time here in County Longford – and especially in Longford town – we are shocked by the violent death of a young mother. The family of the young woman, her children and are all her relatives, have suffered a loss no less painful than that suffered by many in the lifetime of the Abbé Edgeworth. We remember them in their grief.

Any violent death is one too many. It is very understandable that the general population here is angry as well as saddened. It is important that now as never before all of us are also strongly committed to the protection of life, to the support of those who work for peace in the community and to giving them our full co-operation. We cannot become apathetic. Nothing can excuse indifference to the sacredness of human life. The Church has a consistent and clear message on this and we bring it to the attention of our people in the annual “Day for Life” – whose common theme is celebrated each year by the Catholic Church in Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales – and which occurs in Ireland this year on the 7 October next.

The Abbé de Firmont, as the Catholic priest, Henry Essex Edgeworth was known, lived in times so troubled that he might have despaired of a future for the ministry he exercised. He did not. In our times we could lose hope for a future when the right to life is upheld. Today, as we look back to the life of a man who died 200 years ago having lived faithfully to the last: the witness of his life gives reason to hope for the future.


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