Pope Benedict’s Corpus Christi procession to recall Flight of the Earls

21 May 2008

21 May 2008

Pope Benedict’s Corpus Christi procession to recall Flight of the Earls

Tomorrow [22 May 2008] will see the re-enactment, by eight students from the Pontifical Irish College, of the participation of Earl Hugh O’Neill in the Corpus Christi procession in Rome of 1608. As the Vatican celebrates the Feast of Corpus Christi tomorrow, the seminarians will accompany Pope Benedict XVI in this procession through the streets of Rome.

Two deacons, Colin Crossey from the Diocese of Down and Connor and Shane Gallagher from the Diocese of Raphoe, will participate in the Corpus Christi Mass, while six other seminarians (four of whom are Irish, see below) will flank Pope Benedict from 7.00pm as the procession covers the route between two of Rome’s major basilicas: Saint John Lateran and Saint Mary Majors.

The ceremony will be attended by representatives from the Irish Embassy to the Holy See and from the Irish Embassy to Italy as well as by members of the Irish community living in Rome.

According to Monsignor Liam Bergin, Rector of the Pontifical Irish College, “The honour shown to the Irish Earls 400 years ago, by Pope Paul V, has been revisited on eight Irish College seminarians who will assist Pope Benedict in this procession tomorrow. As this anniversary is being marked in Ireland and beyond by historical and cultural events, it is appropriate that the religious dimension is also acknowledged and that the welcome given to the Catholic princes four centuries ago, by the Holy See, be joyously celebrated today.”

Notes for Editors

The Irish seminarians who will flank Pope Benedict XVI tomorrow during the Corpus Christi procession will be:

– Patrick O’Donoghue from the Diocese of Galway;
– Colin Rothery from the Archdiocese of Dublin;
– Michael Hinds from the Diocese of Meath; and,
– Sean Davidson from the Diocese of Elphin.

Photographs of this Corpus Christi procession will be available from the Catholic Communications Office from 9.00pm (Irish time) on 22 May.

Having set out from Rathmullen on 14 September 1607, O’Neill and his followers arrived in Rome on 29 April 1608. The party was received with full honours by Pope Paul V and was given prominence at civil and religious events in the city. O’Neill, together with his son-in-law and six other nobles of his party, were given the particular honour of carrying the canopy in the Corpus Christi procession on 5 June 1608. Tadhg Ó Cianáin’s contemporary diary of the event records that: “The Italians were greatly surprised that they should be shown such deference and respect, for some of them said that seldom before was any one nation in the world appointed to carry the canopy. With the ambassadors of all the Catholic kings and princes of Christendom who happened to be in the city at that time it was an established custom that they, in succession, every year got their opportunity to carry the canopy. They were jealous, envious, and surprised that they were not allowed to carry it on that particular day.”

Former Taoiseach Mr Bertie Ahern TD launched Tadhg Ó Cianáin’s diary in Dublin Castle on 21 November 2007. The diary is now available, along with its translation, in the publications section of www.irishcollege.org.


Further information:
Martin Long, Director of Communications (086 172 7678)
Brenda Drumm, Communications Officer (087 233 7797)