Very Reverend Mgr. H.H. O’Bryen 1835 – 1895

Henry Hewitt O’Bryen is the eldest son of John Roche O’Bryen and Eliza Henderson, which makes him a great great uncle.

He was born on the 5th of March 1835 in Montpelier, France, where his father was studying medicine, and died on the 24th October 1895 in Montreal, Canada, whilst on a papal mission, and is apparently buried in the cathedral there.

He was brought up in Bristol, and studied at the English College in Rome, where he was ordained in 1858. He then served as a priest in Liverpool; first at St Patrick’s in Toxteth, then as Principal of the Catholic Institute 1863-65, and finally Parish Priest at St James, Orrell 1869 -73. He then moved to Rome where to quote from his obituary

Sant Andrea della Valle
Sant Andrea della Valle

Mgr. O’Bryen had the spiritual care of all the Catholics of English tongue, and the Church of St. Andrea della Valle, parochial for the Piazza di Spagna and its neighbourhood, was that in which he heard confessions.”

He became a papal chaplain to Leo XIII (Cameriere Segreto Sopranumerario) in 1881, and also served as a papal ablegate. The majority of the Roman postings are either events he was at, or things that were happening in Rome at the time.

This is his obituary from The Tablet, 2nd November 1895

PERSONAL NOTES.

The telegraph has brought news of the death of Mgr. O’Bryen, Domestic Prelate of his Holiness, who died two days ago at Montreal. The news has been received with the deepest regret, as Mgr. O’Bryen had passed many years in Rome, and had won universal esteem. Though believed to be suffering from apoplexy, he seemed to be in fairly good health. His death was probably caused by a stroke of apoplexy brought on by the fatigue of his travels in Canada and the United States. Until the donation of the Church of San Silvestro in Capite to the English-speaking people, Mgr. O’Bryen had the spiritual care of all the Catholics of English tongue, and the Church of St. Andrea della Valle, parochial for the Piazza di Spagna and its neighbourhood, was that in which he heard confessions. The English sermons on Sundays during the season, which have been a tradition since the days of Pius VII., were delivered in other churches such as the Gesu e Maria, and one of the twin churches, which adorn the Piazza del Popolo. Before coming to Rome, Mgr. O’Bryen had served on the mission in the diocese of Liverpool.

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