Archbishop Eamon Martin to unveil statue of Saint Oliver Plunkett in honour of the martyrs of yesterday, today and tomorrow

08 Jul 2019

Media diary notice for Tuesday 9 July 2019, Feast of Saints Augustine Zhao Rong, priest, and Companions, martyrs

Archbishop Eamon Martin to unveil statue of Saint Oliver Plunkett in honour of the martyrs of yesterday, today and tomorrow

You, or a representative, are invited to attend the celebration of Mass by Archbishop Eamon Martin which will be followed by the unveiling of a statue of Saint Oliver Plunkett in honour of the martyrs of yesterday, today and tomorrow.  The Mass will bring to a close the triduum of prayer across the Archdiocese of Armagh commemorating the 350th anniversary of his appointment as Archbishop of Armagh by Pope Clement IX in 1669.  Saint Oliver received his Episcopal ordination in Ghent, Belgium, later that year.  Details:

When              Following the celebration of Mass at 7.30pm tomorrow Tuesday, 9 July 2019

What               Unveiling of a statue of Saint Oliver Plunkett by Archbishop Eamon Martin

Where             Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh

In attendance People from across Ireland, and abroad, representing many of the places associated with the life and ministry of Saint Oliver Plunkett.  The congregation will also include about 100 people who will have just completed a three-day, 100 kilometre, camino pilgrimage from Drogheda to Armagh in honour of Saint Oliver and all who have been persecuted for the faith

Photographs  Liam McArdle +44 7900107362

Notes for Editors

  • Archbishop Eamon Martin is Archbishop of Armagh, Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Dromore and Primate of All Ireland.
  • Background: Last November on ‘Red Wednesday’, in the context of commemorating those who have been persecuted in the name of Christianity, Archbishop Eamon signalled his intention to honour martyrs of the past, present and tomorrow by erecting a statue of Saint Oliver Plunkett in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh.  In December 2018, Archbishop Eamon travelled to Iraq, and met with Archbishop Bashar Warda in Erbil, to hear and see at first hand the devastation that has been wrought upon Christians in that region.  Archbishop Eamon recently wrote to the Church in Sri Lanka, and Burkina Faso, Africa, offering his prayerful solidarity to the local Churches following the murder of Christians during worship earlier this year.
  • The statue of Saint Oliver Plunkett was commissioned by Archbishop Eamon and has been cast in bronze by Dublin-sculptor Dony MacManus (  The seven-foot high statue depicts Saint Oliver at the moment of his martyrdom.  The saint is cast in Ecce Homo pose (ie ‘Behold the man’, as in the Crucifixion of Jesus).  Saint Oliver stands, wearing his pectoral cross, with his hands bound behind his back gently clasping the martyr’s palm, which trails down to the archbishop’s pallium, making it clear that Saint Oliver’s martyrdom is connected with his episcopacy.  The sculptor has carefully captured the reality that Saint Oliver offered himself into martyrdom for the faith and this is shown in the facial features, depicting a man of courage and holiness, of flesh and blood.

Speaking to the editor of Intercom, Father Chris Hayden, during the casting of the statue of the martyred Saint Oliver Plunkett, the sculptor said, “Art is essentially the overflow of the interior life of the artist.  I have to develop a relationship with the saint as a subject, to the extent that it overflows into the work, and that overflow is what should touch the audience.  I don’t expect people to pray in front of the image if I haven’t prayed in front of it.  In order for liturgical or sacred art to feed a congregation, it has to come from deep prayer, just as a homily can affect a congregation only to the extent that it comes from the prayer of the priest.  In each case, of course, the Holy Spirit plays a key part.”  The aim of the statue-design of Saint Oliver “is to break the heart of those who see the work, so that they are affected in a deeply emotional way,” Mr MacManus said.  For the full interview please see

  • Saint Oliver Plunkett (1 November 1625 – 1 July 1681) was the Catholic Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland.  Each year celebrations commemorating Saint Oliver take place at his birthplace in front of the ruins of the old church at Loughcrew, Oldcastle, Co Meath; at his shrine in Drogheda, Co Louth, and at other places associated with him throughout Ireland and the world.  Having studied at the Irish College in Rome, and worked at the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, in 1669 he was appointed Archbishop of Armagh by Pope Clement IX.  Archbishop Oliver Plunkett maintained his duties in Ireland in the face of persecution and was arrested and tried for treason in London.  He was hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn on 1 July 1681.  He became the last Catholic martyr to die in England.  Oliver Plunkett was beatified in 1920 and canonised by Saint Pope Paul VI in 1975 – the first new Irish saint for almost seven hundred years.

Each year thousands of pilgrims visit the national shrine of Saint Oliver in Saint Peter’s Church, Drogheda, to venerate his relics and learn about the saint’s extraordinary life and ministry.  Pilgrims pray for the sick and troubled, for family and friends.  They fittingly turn to Saint Oliver – martyred for the faith at a time of political, religious and social turmoil – to pray for his intercession to protect the faith and to bring peace to areas of conflict at home and abroad.  Along with Saints Patrick, Brigid and Malachy, Saint Oliver Plunkett is a patron saint of the Archdiocese of Armagh.                                                        


For media contact: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long +353 (0) 86 172 7678 and Brenda Drumm +353 (0) 87 310 4444.