The Delegate-Apostolic to The Philippines – Gathering of Old Augustinians – 1904.

This one doesn’t have too many members of the family in , but it does have Uncle Edmund (Bellord), Agnes Purssell’s husband; and from a completely separate part of the family great,great, grandpa RP.  Commendatore Agius, is Edward Tancred Agius , who was a very old friend of the Roper Parkingtons going right back to both their early married days in Chiswick. Father Ambrose is ET Agius’s younger brother. We’ll let the Tablet take up the story


Hotel Cecil, the Strand 1910

A dinner in honour of the Most Rev. Ambrose Agius, 0.S.B., Archbishop of Palmyra and Delegate-Apostolic to the Philippines, was given at the Hotel Cecil on Wednesday evening by the Society of Old Augustinians. On the previous day his Grace held a reception at the College at Ramsgate. The President of the Society, the Abbot of Ramsgate, was in the chair, and amongst others present were the Archbishop of Westminster, the Bishops of Newport, Clifton, and Southwark, the Mayor of Ramsgate, Count Rivarola, the Marchese Mattei, the Abbot of Downside, Sir Roper Parkington, Dom T. E. Egan, 0.S.B., Rector of St. Augustine’s, Ramsgate, Canon Pycke, Commendatore Agius, Commendatore Eck, Commendatore Hicks, Mr. Leonard, Lindsay, Mr. Hugh Burns, and many others,old students of St. Augustine’s. After dinner the Abbot of Ramsgate read a letter of regret at inability to be present from Mr. Choate, the American Ambassador, and proposed the loyal toast of Pope and King. The company was then photographed by Messrs. Fradelle and Young.

St Augustines, Ramsgate

The Lord Abbot next proposed the health of the Archbishop of Palmyra. His Grace was not only an Archbishop and a Delegate-Apostolic, but an Old Augustinian, and whilst he rejoiced at his being raised to so high a dignity, he could not but regret having to say farewell to an old friend and associate of 30 years. The College might well be proud of one who, after being the first boy of his year, became a worthy priest and a model monk of St. Benedict. He had watched over the College finances and they had been all the better for that, and later as their Procurator in Rome he had always devoted himself to the interests entrusted to his charge, and with tact and obligingness had succeeded. The Pope had been drawn to him by his care of, and labours for, the poor, and now he was going as the representative of his Holiness to a people of faith, under a nation amongst whom liberty was supreme. They wished him long life and success in his new sphere of labour. The Abbot then presented his Grace with a beautiful travelling clock from the members of his old school.

Archbishop Agius. courtesy of the Agius family

The Archbishop of Palmyra, in reply, thanked all for the good will and kindness they had shown to him. He would be glad to have as many to help him in his work as possible. There were 1,400 islands, and 8,000,000 Catholics to look after. Some sees there were vacant, doctors and lawyers would be useful, and so would a financier, for the American Government had been, very generous. Military men he should only want as friends, for he was going out with the old Benedictine motto of “Pax,” and to carry out the Pope’s policy of restoring all things in Christ. The Holy Father had told him to do in the Philippines what he had been doing during recent years in Rome. After some words to show the greatness of heart and loveable disposition of the Pope, his Grace thanked the past students for their hand some present of a clock. Another present he had received was a portable altar. He accepted the omen ; he would “watch and pray.”

The next toast, that of ” the Archbishop of Westminster and Bishops of England” was proposed by Mr. Edmund J. Bellord, who, speaking as the oldest of the old boys of St. Augustine’s, expressed their gratitude at the compliment done their old school by the presence of the Archbishop of Westminster and the other Bishops.

The Archbishop of Westminster [Archbishop, later Cardinal Bourne] , in reply, spoke of the pleasure and gratification he felt at being present on the occasion. He was a debtor in many things to Father Ambrose Agius in Rome, and his gratitude and affection for him were the motives of his hearty wishes of God-speed. He had been successful in Rome, and success would surely attend him in the Philippines. He hoped, too, that his presence there that evening would be taken as what indeed it was—a mark of his affection and esteem for the Abbot of Ramsgate and St. Augustine’s College.

Cardinal Bourne

Mr. Arthur a Beckett proposed the toast of “St. Augustine’s College and Old Augustinians.” The College needed no advertisement, and Sir W. Broadbent had spoken as to the healthiness of the town in which it was situated. Mr. a Beckett then gave interesting reminiscences of the old school plays in which the present Rector had figured so creditably.

Father Egan, the Rector, replied. The school was naturally proud of Archbishop Agius, for in his elevation they recognised the seal of the Pope’s approval of the training given at St. Augustine’s. Mr. Gerald Flanagan also replied on behalf of the Old Augustinians who had entered heartily into the project of doing honour to one who had shed such lustre on their old school.

Father Donald Skrimshire then gave the toast of “The Visitors,” to which the Abbot of Downside, in reply, said that all Benedictines rejoiced with those of Ramsgate in the honour that had been conferred on St. Augustine’s in the person of the Archbishop of Palmyra. Sir Roper Parkington also replied, and congratulated Mr. E. T. Agius on the distinction that had been conferred by the Holy See upon his brother and himself. [ The distinction was that E.T. Agius had been made a papal Chamberlain (Cameriere Segreti di spada e cappa) that year about the same time his brother had been consecrated an Archbishop. It’s a nice touch because Edward Agius and John Roper Parkington had been friends for almost thirty five years.] Commendatore Eck also spoke.

The last toast of the Chairman, “The Abbot of Ramsgate,” was briefly proposed by Mr. E. T. Agius. The Abbot having expressed his thanks, the proceedings terminated.

The above text was found on p., 22nd October 1904 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at .

Previously it had been announced in Rome that Father Ambrose had been appointed the papal Delegate to the Philippines.


Sant’ Andrea delle Fratte

Father Ambrose Agius, 0.S.B., of the Cassinese Congregation of the Primitive Observance, has been appointed by the Holy Father to succeed Mgr. Guidi as Apostolic Delegate to. the Philippine Islands. Mgr. Guidi succeeded in settling with the United States authorities the vexed question of the Spanish Friars and their possessions in the Archipelago, but many other delicate and intricate matters still await solution. The position of Delegate is, therefore, one of much difficulty. Much speculation has been wasted in the American Press as to the successor of Mgr. Guidi, and Father Ambrose’s name has never once been mentioned in this connection. Yet the selection is an ideal one in every way. The new delegate is a native of Malta: he speaks all the principal European tongues with equal fluency ; but English is really his mother tongue, and during his long residence in Rome he was one of the two English Confessors at the Church of Sant’ Andrea delle Fratte. [ In a nicely convuleted twist, a role that Mgr. Henry O’Bryen had fulfilled in Rome for about fifteen years from 1875; albeit at St. Andrea della Valle by the Piazza di Spagna]  He was also spiritual director of the Roman community of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin, better known as the “English Ladies,” and for some time acted in that capacity to the “Little Company of Mary.” Father Ambrose is a young man—not much over forty one would say—full of zeal and energy, and of exquisite tact.  The above text was found on p., 3rd September 1904 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at .

And then finally, the consecration itself on Sunday, September 18th.

Sant’ Ambrogio della Massima

This morning his Excellency the Most Rev. Ambrose Agius, 0.S.B., Delegate Apostolic to the Philippines, was consecrated Archbishop by Cardinal Merry del Val, Secretary of State to his Holiness, assisted by his Excellency Mgr. Chapelle, Apostolic Delegate to Cuba and Porto Rico and Archbishop of New Orleans, and by his Grace Mgr. Stonor, Archbishop of Trebizond. [ In another nice twist, Cardinal Merry del Val was a student at Ushaw with Father Philip O’Bryen, whilst  Father Philip’s much older half-brother Mgr. Henry O’Bryen was a domestic chaplain in the Vatican at the same time Mgr. Stonor was.]  The solemn ceremony took place in the Church of Sant’ Ambrogio, attached to the monastery in which “Father Ambrose” has spent many fruitful years. Rome is supposed to be empty of English-speaking residents just now, yet the church seemed to be full of them this morning, and whatever space they left was occupied by representatives of the religious orders, with Benedictines naturally in the majority. Mgr. Giles, Bishop-elect of Philadelphia, came from Monte Porzio to be present at the ceremony. A special place in the church was reserved for the Apostolic Delegate’s relatives, many of whom made the journey from England for the occasion.

Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val

Among them were his mother, Mrs. Agius, his sister, Mrs. Edward Vella, his brothers, Mr. Edward Agius and Mr. Edgar Agius, his nieces, Mrs. Salvo Cassar, Miss Agius, Miss C. Agius, and Dr. E. Vella, Captain A. Arrigo, E. Vella, C. Vella, Major Muscat and Mrs. Muscat with their son and daughter, and Father Cartin. Among the Benedictines present were Abbots Krugg, President-General of the Cassinese Congregation, Vagioli, Ciaramella, General of the Vallombrosians, Policari of the Silvestrini, Strozzi of the Canons Regular of the Lateran, besides the Procurators-General of the Capuchins, Carmelites, Dominicans, Servites, Pious Missioners, and Brothers of the Christian schools. The Archbishop will leave for his destination in about a month, the routine work of the Delegation being transacted in the meantime by Father O’Connor, P.S.M., who has acted as secretary to the late Mgr. Guidi for the last four years.

The above text was found on p., 18th September 1904 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at .

The Papal Jubilee – Rome 1893

As with most of the Roman posts this one is included a. because it’s fun, and b. because  Uncle Henry  –  Mgr HH O’Bryen was there.




our lady of victories 1The Irish pilgrims to Rome had anticipated our day of departure. Therefore it is that I must take up the thread of our combined Roman chronicle after our own arrival in Rome. We met then, English and Scottish pilgrims, some five hundred strong, at the Pro-Cathedral, Kensington, on Monday night, February 13. The Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh delivered an address on the object of our journey, and the fitting spirit in which we should go, and Benediction concluded this opening ceremonial. On the following morning, at II a.m., we began our journey from Victoria, two special trains containing the pilgrims travelling in succession the one to the other. Of our crossing the Channel I need say no more than that we were compelled to endure considerable mortifications ; it was very rough, and the special boat was crowded to repletion ; nevertheless the pilgrim train arrived in Paris not more than two hours late. The Gare du Nord, immediately after our arrival, was thrown into unexampled confusion. Nobody was able to find, much less identify, his luggage, and the French officials were perfectly apathetic to our distressful condition. After much struggling, however, and perspiring exertion, we reached our several destinations in Paris safely.

crown of thorns parisOn the following morning we assembled in strong force at Notre Dame, where, after Mass and the distribution of ashes, the great relic preserved in the Cathedral (the Crown of Thorns of Our Lord) was, by special favour, offered for the veneration of the pilgrims. The reliquary is in the form of a cross, about two feet long, and a circular case in the centre contains the precious relic.

At 11.45 we left Paris, and dinner was served at Dijon. Here in truth we learned a sorrowful necessity of patience. There was a rapid raid made on the Buffet, which, in effect, nearly developed in a free fight. By the vigilance of the Committee, however, all disastrous effects were avoided ; we consumed a certain quantity of food, and were quickly back in our train making preparation for the night journey. This was accomplished without mishap, and the morning sun rose as we travelled down—down—from the bleak hills into the most gracious levels of Italy. We went with the sweep of a wind from this bleakness into this hospitality ; and enjoyment was once more a visitor to our souls when we reached Modane, and were compelled to endure another scene of turmoil by reason of the enforced examination of our lesser baggage. Steadily keeping unpunctual by the two hours to the bad which had marked our arrival at Paris, we reached Genoa at half-past five, and left the train to take some rest within sight of the curving Mediterranean, and the lean sloping hills of Italy. Rain greeted us in the morning, and it was in a deluge that we left Genoa at halfpast eight ; but the weather quickly cleared up, and, by the time we had arrived at Pisa, with its extremely modern looking station, the sun was shining.

Duke of Norfolk c.1908
Duke of Norfolk c.1908

Some of us took the opportunity of an hour’s delay at this town to take a hasty glance at the famous leaning tower, but the effect of this curiosity was to retard still more the heavily laden train, which arrived at half-past eleven, three hours after the appointed time. I may add in passing that, owing to the lateness of the hour, no luggage could be obtained that night. We were met by quite a crowd of the English colony, and by a deputation of the Circolo di San Pietro accompanied by the Vice-President of the General Pilgrimage Committee in Italy ; while the Rector of the Scots College and many of the students, with their purple cassocks and black ferraiouli, were present to welcome the Scottish pilgrims. On the arrival of the train, a deputation was presented to the Duke of Norfolk, who returned formal thanks for the attention.


Irish College, Rome

Meanwhile it is now necessary for me to return to the Irish Pilgrims who arrived on the Tuesday, and to chronicle their doings, as I have them by hearsay, down to our own arrival in the Eternal City. The Irish pilgrims, then, arrived on Tuesday night, and were met at the station by the Rector of the Irish College and by a deputation of the Circolo di San Pietro. On the following morning they all assembled in the chapel of the Irish College to assist at the Mass celebrated by Cardinal Logue, who also distributed the ashes to them, the, pilgrims singing together several parts of the Mass. At the end of it they sang the hymn, “God bless the Pope,” and then “Faith of Our Fathers.” Dr. Kelly, the Rector, while his Eminence was unrobing after Mass, delivered a little discourse, describing the chapel and its antiquarian interest. He also drew the attention of the pilgrims to the beautiful monument erected there to the memory of O’Connell, which encloses his heart. He recalled O’Connell’s words on his death-bed, when he said that he gave his soul to heaven, his body to Ireland, and his heart to Rome.

The pilgrims then assisted at the unveiling of a commemorative slab to the memory of Cardinal Cullen. The slab is on the wall of the first landing of the big staircase leading inside the College. The Cardinal, surrounded by pilgrims, had just taken his seat opposite the slab, and the ceremony was about to begin, when the venerable figure of Archbishop Kirby, the late Rector, who for many years had held that post, appeared through the crowd of pilgrims. He is indeed just recovering from rather a bad illness ; yet in spite of his being ninety years of age he determined to make the exertion of appearing amongst the pilgrims and welcoming them to Rome. The pilgrims received him with hearty cheers. The Rev. P. Maguire recited an ode in the Irish language, dedicated to the Cardinal, who in reply delivered a few pleased and appreciative words. On the Thursday morning, the day before our arrival, the Irish pilgrims assisted at Mass in the Church of San Clemente, after which Father Hickey, Prior of the Irish Dominicans, showed the pilgrims over the celebrated underground Church of San Clemente, which, being the first basilica dedicated to this saint, was discovered and excavated in 1857 by the late Father Mullooley.

santa-maria-della-pace-1024x676On the same afternoon Cardinal Logue took possession of his titular Church of Santa Maria della Pace. The pilgrims were all assembled in the church by four o’clock. At a quarter after the hour, his Eminence entered the church, accompanied by the procession, and took his seat on the throne erected in the sanctuary on the gospel side of the altar. The different Bishops that have come with the pilgrims were seated in reserved seats immediately before the sanctuary. There were also present several Italian Bishops, and the Rectors and Priors of the different Irish communities in Rome. The Cardinal was assisted by the Rector of the Irish College and by Mgr. O’Bryen, while Mgr. Cocci acted as master of ceremonies. Mgr. Pericoli, the Apostolic Notary, read the Pontifical Bull conferring the church, and the Rector of the church, after the reading of the Bull, delivered a speech congratulating the Cardinal on the occasion. The Cardinal returned thanks, and stepping from the throne, addressed the pilgrims from the sanctuary rails, giving, in fact, an interesting account of the Church assigned to him by the Pope. A Te Deum closed the ceremony, and the same evening the Cardinal gave a reception of the pilgrims in the Halls of the Arcadia. Cardinal Vaughan, Cardinal Macchi, Archbishop Stonor, the Bishops of Clifton and Emmaus, the Austrian Ambassador, and many distinguished personages were present. The reception was, I am assured, a brilliant success.


Borghese chapel Santa Maria Maggiore
Borghese chapel Santa Maria Maggiore

I return now to our own fortunes. We all assembled on Saturday morning in the Borghese Chapel of Santa Maria Maggiore, having wended our way to the great church from all the points of the compass. My own way led me, with several others, past the Palazzo Barberini, and the Quattro Fontane, by the Via Nazionale. Climbing the great exterior steps, then, and entering the church, we met, as I have said, in the Borghese Chapel. The altar was for the time, occupied by a Neapolitan Bishop ; but after he had finished Mass, the Bishop of Clifton began to vest, and Mass began shortly after ten o’clock. The picture of the famous Madonna, said to have been painted by St. Luke, was exposed to view, and kneeling in front of the sanctuary was our Cardinal, in purple, with scarlet zucchetto.

During the Mass the Litany of Loretto and “Hail Queen of Heaven” were sung, and I cannot easily describe the devotional effect of those five hundred English voices uplifted and echoing among these springing Italian arches, and amid this gay and florid decoration. I think that even Mr. Francis Whitgreave, Jun., might have been persuaded, for the moment, into the tolerance of this noble and most unsinning architecture, and for the moment have overlooked the immoral sins of commission which have been heaped upon these poor stones. At the end of Mass Cardinal Vaughan delivered a short discourse upon the relics which this Church contains, and afterwards accompanied the pilgrims upon a visit to the crypt.

When this ceremony was concluded, we all repaired to the Hotel de Rome, the head-quarters of the Pilgrimage, to receive our tickets for the great function on the following day. We received injunctions to be at St. Peter’s, if possible, by five o’clock on the following morning, on account of the crush that was expected. Personally, having some little knowledge of the ways of Roman functions, I suspected my ticket ; and, observing that it had no encouragement endorsed upon it for any entrance to a tribune, only serving (as I supposed) for the body of the Church, I made subsequent effort to exchange it for a tribune ticket. This, by a stroke of good fortune, I was enabled to effect.


I am told that pilgrims began to gather round the Facciata of the great Cathedral as early as three o’clock in the morning, and that cafes and restaurants were up betimes with their fires lit in busy provision of breakfasts. I started with my tribune ticket for the Apse at half-past six, and having resolved to avoid crossing the Tiber by the temporary iron bridge near St. Angelo, which the Romans in satire call the Gabbthne (huge cage), over which the new tram lines run, I drove a long but clear round across the new Ponte Margherita and through the Prati di Castello quarter, and so effected an entrance into the Piazza of St. Peter’s at the Colonnade of Constantine. St.PetersSq

Here lines of Italian soldiers were drawn across the middle of the vast space, and further progress was only granted to those who were in the possession of tickets, whether for the tribunes near the high altar, or for standing room in the nave The doors had been opened at 6.30, and I learn that much disappointment was expressed by many of the Irish and English pilgrims on the discovery, for the first time, that no special places had been reserved in the Basilica for them. “It caused,” writes one, whose letter I have permission to quote, “a certain amount of dissatisfaction amongst the pilgrims who, having undergone all the fatigues of the long journey for the special purpose of attending this Mass, considered themselves entitled to rather more consideration than they received on this occasion. Nevertheless we resigned ourselves to standing in the seething crowd for some three hours, a resignation which the splendid function that followed amply justified.”

st-peters-arnolfo-di-cambioThe Irish pilgrims, I should here remark, marched into the Basilica four abreast, displaying great spirit, bearing a banner aloft, and carrying all before them. Father Ring acted as Captain of the Irish forces. Most of these were stationed near the statue of St. Peter, which had been arranged for the Jubilee in the pontifical robes, and wore a tiara and ring—a ritual usually restricted to the Feast of St. Peter in June. The pilasters of the great nave and the dome were draped, as usual, with rich crimson brocade, bordered with gold lace, not tinsel or fine copper wire, as some contemptuously suppose, but real gold-woven work. By seven o’clock the tribunes in the apse were filled with various ladies and gentlemen, together with many religious, priests, and sisters—the English Nuns, founded by Lady Georgiana Fullerton (the Servants of the Mother of God), and the Nottingham Sisters (the Little Company of Mary), with their blue lined veils, the ladies of the Sacre Coeur, and others.

St Peters Basilica

The High Altar was illuminated with many tall wax lights and immense bouquets of natural flowers were massed between the Altar and the “Confession.” In the long three hours before the function began—appointed for nine, it was delayed till a quarter to ten—the tribunes gradually filled chiefly with members of the Roman aristocracy and of the Diplomatic Corps. Some of the uniforms were gorgeous, and some curiosity was aroused by the appearance of three German Catholic students arrayed in black velvet braided jackets, white leather breeches, and long boots ; they carried large black velvet caps with white feathers, and silk scarves of the Papal and German colours, white and yellow, black and white intermingled. Down the great Church the view was most impressive. The heads of the crowd were packed together from altar to great door, and it is calculated that from sixty to eighty thousand people were gathered in the building. The black lace veils worn by the women set against the black and white of the men’s evening dress contrasted with the gay red and yellow of the Swiss guards, with their halberds and baggy knickerbockers, and again with the white and blue of the Guardia Nobile. Two men, I have been credibly informed, overcome by the crush had to be lifted insensible over the palisade in the centre of the nave and carried to one of the five ambulances prepared in various parts of the Church for emergencies of the kind. From where I sat, in one of the Apse tribunes, the 150 choristers perched aloft in the Dome seemed like black and white dolls moving about in the vague spaces of the giant cupola.


At last, after long waiting, a thrill of emotion swept through the dense crowds, for the Pope had descended from his apartments, and knelt at prayer in the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament ; he was not yet to be seen, for the right nave was screened by heavy crimson damask curtains down to the Chapel of the Pieta, where all the Canons of St. Peter’s, with the Cardinal Archpriest Ricci Paracciani,, received his Holiness. Here he was robed in the white and gold chasuble presented by the Roman ladies for his Sacerdotal Jubilee, and the precious mitre offered on the present occasion by his Noble Guards. The Holy Father wore also the great white fala’a, reserved exclusively for the Sovereign Pontiff, clasped with jewels, and the train held by the two Monsignori, who are his camerieri partecipanti.

GestatorialChair1The tiara was placed on his head, and when the Pontiff was seated in the sedia gestatoria, the procession up the great nave slowly began ; and the silver trumpets sounded from the Loggia of the Beatifications above the great central door of St. Peter’s. The Pontifical choir led the way, singing Tu es Petrus, but their voices had scarcely broken into the air when a great burst of cheering went up from the immense concourse of people. It was like the roar of the sea breaking on a strand. The enthusiasm was unbounded, and deafening cries of “Viva il Papa Re,” “Viva il Vicario di Cristo,” arose as the seated figure of the Pontiff, leaning gently from side to side in benediction of his flock, was borne up the nave. The progress to the High Altar, the enthusiasm ever growing greater and greater, till at length that vast congregation seemed almost beside itself with emotion.


Calm was only restored when Leo XIII. stood before the altar of the Confession to begin the Holy Sacrifice. He said a Low Mass, and was assisted by the two Archbishops of the Chapter of St. Peter’s, Monsignori Tamminiatelli and Cassetta, his Auditor, Mgr. Fausti, and the Sacristan, Mgr. Pifferi. During Mass the choir of the Sixtine Chapel, led by their old Maestro, Mustafa, sang the Jubilate Deo. Every eye was fixed upon the venerable white old man absorbed in prayer, who celebrated with the same touching reverence and humility as if in his own private chapel. There was a solemn hush through the whole multitude, and many were moved to tears at the moment of the elevation, when the cool liquid strains of the silver trumpets streamed through the building, and the choir chanted the chorus by Mustafa, Domine Salvum fac, re-echoed by the fresh young voices in the cupola.

Mass being ended, the Holy Father recited the usual prayers and thanksgiving; then for a few minutes he retired to a pavilion under the choir to partake of some slight refreshment, having, of course, fasted from the preceding evening. Meantime, the choir sang the prayer of the Holy Father, Sancte Michael, &c., to music composed by Mustafa. Then his Holiness returned to the foot of the altar, and the Pontifical robes, including the tiara, being again put on, the Te Deum was intoned and taken up by the choirs, and the responses joined in by thousands of voices in every part of the church. Although the Holy Father did not himself intone the great hymn, he joined with all the people in the responses, greatly to the distress of his attendants, who trembled lest the fatigue should overcome him. In fact, the great emotion did overcome His Holiness and he became quite faint for a few moments. But quickly rallying his strength Leo XIII. was again borne in the sedia gestatoria, in the same order of procession as before round the altar to the front of the Confession. Here His Holiness gave the Papal Benediction, standing up and reading it from the Pontificale Romanum held before him. The prayers and Indulgences are as follows : Sancti Apostoli Petrus et Paulus de quorum potestate et auctoritate confidimus, ipsi intercedant pro nobis ad Dominum. Precibus et meritis beatae Mariae semper Virginis, beati Michaelis Archangeli, beati Joannis Baptistae, et sanctorum Apostolorum Petri et Pauli, et omnium Sanctorum, misereatur vestri omnipotens Deus, et dimissis omnibus peccatis vestris, perducat vos Jesus Christus ad vitam aetemam. Amen. Indulgentiam, absolutionem, et remissionem omnium peccatorum vestrorum, spatium verae et fructuosae poenitentiae, cor semper poenitens et emendationem vitae, gratiam et consolationem Sancti Spiritus, et finalem perseverantiam in bonis operibus, tribuat vobis omnipotens et misericors Dominus. Amen.

These prayers being read, the Sovereign Pontiff blessed all the people, making three times the sign of the Cross, and saying : ” Benedictio Dei omnipotent’s, Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti descendat super vos, et maneat semper.” Then three solemn “Amens” were uttered, and Cardinals Mazzella and Verga promulgated the Plenary Indulgence attached to this solemn Papal Benediction. Another indescribable ovation greeted the Holy Father as he was carried down the centre of the nave and returned to the Chapel of the Pieta.


It was a considerable time before this great multitude could emerge from St. Peter’s. The exit seemed more difficult than the entrance, and standing on the steps, looking out through the pillars of the Great Colonnade, the whole Piazza appeared black with human beings, who, however, dispersed in the most orderly manner. Nothing, in a word, occurred to mar the splendour of that function, which was probably one of the finest of its kind ever seen.

Benediction was given in the afternoon by Cardinal Vaughan at the English Convent in the Via San Sebastianino, and his Eminence held a reception there afterwards. In the evening the city was illuminated. I must, in closing my letter, add that on Tuesday the Pope received the Irish pilgrims, headed by Cardinal Logue, in the Grand Hall of the Consistory. On this occasion Cardinal Logue read an address in which the pilgrims congratulated the Pope, and expressed their devotion to the Holy See.

Another address was read by the Bishop of Galway, thanking the Pope for having so honoured Ireland in raising its Primate to the rank of Cardinal, and expressing the devotion of the Irish people to the Supreme Pontiff. The address stated that during Jubilee week prayers were being said in Ireland for the Pope, and that more than 2,000 priests were saying Mass for him. The Pope, who, I am told, seemed exceedingly pleased during the reading of the speech, replied in Latin, and, having said a few words, said that he was suffering from a sore throat, which prevented him from speaking at any length. His Holiness then charged Mgr. Bisleti to continue the reading of the reply, which, like the address from the Irish Catholics, was of an essentially religious character.

The Pope, after expressing his satisfaction over seeing before him the faithful sons of St. Patrick, thanked the pilgrims for having organized in Ireland an Association comprising a million Catholics, who, being unable to come to Rome, combined themselves from afar with the pilgrimage by daily attendance at special Masses for the Sovereign Pontiff. His Holiness went on to refer to the traditional faith and piety of the Irish Catholics, whose devotion to the Holy See had always been the same in good and evil days. In conclusion, the Pope exhorted the pilgrims to persevere in their attachment to the Chair of St. Peter, and not to forget the saying of St. Patrick — Sicut Christiani ita et Romani sills. His Holiness then gave his hand to each person present to kiss the “Fisher’s Ring,” and dismissed the pilgrims after pronouncing the Benediction upon all Catholics, both present and absent.

I have to add that in the evening the Duke of Norfolk held a brilliant reception of pilgrims, both British and Irish, at the Hotel de Rome. The Duke of Norfolk wore the Grand Cross of the Order of Christ, and was assisted in the reception of his guests by his sisters, Lady Mary and Lady Margaret Howard. Amongst those present were the Earl of Gainsborough, and no fewer than fifteen Archbishops and Bishops, including the Archbishop of Edinburgh, the Archbishop of Trebizond, and the Bishops of Nottingham, Clifton, Southwark, Birmingham, and Aberdeen. The reception lasted from 9 o’clock until late. Of the Cardinal’s taking possession of his titular church you will receive an independent account.

Roma, Via del Corso

Meanwhile, it only remains to add that we are doing very well here, and know how to take care of ourselves. Last night I walked down the Corso, from the Piazza del Popolo to the Piazza Colonna, upon which shines the white glare of those Roman Whiteleys, Fratelli Bocconi. The street was indeed Italian, the sky with its stars and moon was Italian ; the skyline of the houses was Italian, despite all the changes which have in these past years sacrificed the picturesque in Italy. But the prevalent voice was the voice of England and Ireland. Above the din of the newsboys rushing out into the streets from the newspaper offices, calling with their inimitable emphasis upon the penultimate syllable—Fanfiella Opinione Din/to /—you heard the murmur of an English accent, or an Irish brogue.

Among the benches of the Caffe Greco Englishmen supped black coffee ; there were English greetings here and there, and little groups of Italians would gather silently to observe English meetings and laughter, and to listen without understanding to our pure native criticism. We lounged at our ease, and we too watched these Italian groups, some gay with the blue-gray cloaks of Italian officers, or strange by reason of an alien costume ; or a group of Bersaglieri would post past us as if their hearts were bursting for the enforced rapidity of their motion. Yet we felt perfectly at home ; for, as I have said, everywhere you heard the echo of English speech or recognized English faces. And our universal feeling was that we had all been singularly privileged to assist at a demonstration so imposing, so impressive and so devotional as that which took place on Sunday at St. Peter’s.

The above text was found on p.8, 25th February 1893  in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at .

The marriage of the Marquis de Stacpoole 1883

This is a almost unique wedding. The happy couple are married by the bridegroom’s father, who is a Catholic priest, and a hereditary papal duke. He is also the father of a legitimate son, and daughter. Mgr. George Stacpoole, was a Papal chamberlain at the same time as Mgr Henry O’Bryen.

The Abbey of St Wandrille, Rouen, Normandy.

The Rt. Reverend Mgr. George Marie Stanislas Koska de Stacpoole, 3rd Duc de Stacpoole, was born on 1 May 1829. He was the son of Richard Fitzgeorge de Stacpoole, 1st Duc de Stacpoole, and Elizabeth Tulloch. He was ordained in 1875 after the death of his wife, and was later made a Domestic Prelate by Pope Pius IX. He had married Maria Dunn, daughter of Thomas Dunn and Catherine Mary King, on 1 June 1859,  He died on 16 March 1896 at age 66.
He was educated at Stonyhurst, and  was decorated with the award of the Knight of the Supreme Order of Our Lord Jesus Christ (the highest Papal Order), he was also decorated with the award of the Grand Cross, Equestrian Order of Holy Sepulchre (at that time given by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem under the protection and authority of the Pope).He became 3rd Marquis de Stacpoole, 3rd Duc de Stacpoole[both papal titles] , and 4th Comte de Stacpoole [a french title] in 1878. He lived at St. Wandrille, Rouen, France.

The marriage of the only son of Monsignor the Duc de Stacpoole, with Miss MacEvoy, only child of Edward MacEvoy, Esq., of Tobertynan, co. Meath, and Mount Hazel, co. Galway, and late M.P. for the former county, took place at the Oratory, Merrion-square Dublin,. on Saturday, 1st December, and was performed by Monsignor de Stacpoole, who afterwards addressed a touching and eloquent discourse to the bridegroom. The bride and bridegroom arrived shortly before eleven, attended by Mr. John Talbot as best man. The bride wore a dress of white satin, the entire front of which was of handsome Brussells lace, the gift of the Duc de Stacpoole, and was attended by six bridesmaids, Miss de Stacpoole (sister of the bridegroom), Lady Mary Nugent, Miss Ffrench and Miss Burke (cousins of the bride), and Miss Cicely de Stacpoole and Miss Dunn (cousins of the bridegroom), who were attired in dresses of cream-coloured satin and embroidery, trimmed with point d’Alencon lace, and cream-coloured bonnets with ostrich feathers. Each bridesmaid wore a gold bracelet with pearl horseshoe, and carried a bouquet of flowers, the gifts of the bridegroom. Master Arthur Burke, cousin of the bride, in page’s costume of black and white, acted as page. After the ceremony, Mr. and Mrs. MacEvoy entertained about ninety guests at dinner at their residence, 59, Merrion-square. Among the guests were : Monsignor de Stacpoole, the Right Rev. Dr. Donnelly (Auxiliary Bishop to the Cardinal), the Earl and Countess of Fingal, Dowager Lady Kilmaine, Lady Bellew, Sir Henry Burke, Hon. Mr. and Mrs. C. Nugent, Lady Mary Burke, Mr. and Mrs. Gradwell, Mr. H. Farnham Burke, Mrs. Athy, Mr. and Mrs. Morrogh, Lady Mary Plunkett, Mr. Granbey Burke, Mr. and Mrs. George Morris, Mr Martyn of Tullyra, Mr. and Mrs. O’Connor Morris, &c., &c. The presents numbered about 250. Besides these gifts from those who were present at the wedding, presents were received from the Dowager Marchioness of Londonderry, Lady Herbert of Lea, Sir Percival and Lady Radcliffe, Hon. Mr. and Mrs. Netterville, Hon. Mr. and Mrs. Bellew, Hon. Nora Gough, Hon. Arthur Browne, Mrs. Dunn, Countess of Westmeath, Lady Mary Nugent, Marquess of Sligo, Earl and Countess of Granard, Mr. and Mrs. George Lane Fox, Sir Henry Grattan Bellew, Sir Bernard Burke, Major Jarvis White, Miss Chichester, Mr. Coppinger, Mr. William Fitzgerald, Mr. Radcliffe, Mr. O’Connor, Mr. Ashworth P. Burke, Sir George and Lady O’Donnell, &c., &c. During the breakfast a telegram was received from Monsignor Mecchi, conveying a special blessing from his Holiness, who had previously deigned to bless the wedding ring, at the request of Cardinal Manning, who had been kind enough to take it to Rome. Shortly before four o’clock the newly married pair departed en route for the continent.

The above text was found on p.15, 8th December 1883 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at .

A snapshot of Rome in 1879

This give a nice picture of what was happening in Rome in February 1879. It is nine and a half years after the capture of Rome and the culmination of the Risorgimento.  February 7th 1879 was the first anniversary of the death of Pope Pius IX, and thirteen months since the death of Vittorio Emanuele II on January 9th 1878. The Rev. Dr. Henry O’Bryen had been in Rome for about six years, and appears to be curiously absent from things. But the following cutting explains his absence:  “REV. DR. O’BRYEN.—The Rev. Dr. Henry O’Bryen has left Rome for Nice for change of air after his recent serious indisposition. The Tablet Page 17, 15th March 1879″

Anyway back to Rome, on February 8th, 1879.


The Feast of the Purification of Our Lady,

The Consistorial Hall, Vatican

On Sunday the 2nd, LEO XIII., received the customary offerings of wax candles front the basilicas and the various religious orders. The ceremony was attended by many prelates and parochial clergymen, Knights of Malta, Chamberlains, &c., &c. In the evening his Holiness received in private audience Monsignor Ramadie, Archbishop of Albi in France, who presented a large offering of Peter’s Pence. On Monday, February 3rd, the Consistorial Hall was filled with an immense number of ladies and gentlemen. The Holy Father made his appearance in the Hall shortly after 11 o’clock, attended by Monsignor Macchi, Maestro di Camera, and by Monsignor Boccali and Monsignor Ciccolini, the Chamberlains Partecipanti in Waiting.

Among the foreign ladies received were the Countess Elizabeth de Perchestine, the Countesses Marie Louise de Biesme, Maria Collino Mariani, and Emilia Desberger.  Monsignor Kirby presented the Holy Father with the sum of £200 sterling, an offering from Patrick Power, Esq., of Halifax, U.S.

Lord George Paget, who was introduced by Monsignor Stonor, had audience of his Holiness. On the 5th of February private audience was given to the Rev. Luigi Della Valle, Director of the Pontifical Press of the Immaculate Conception at Modena, and to the Rev. Gaspare Olmi, Missionary Apostolic, who presented to the Pope several religious periodicals printed by their establishment, and also an offering of Peter’s Pence from the Direito Cattolico of Modena.


Santo Spirito

The Queen visited last week the San Spirito Hospital, of which Prince Paul Borghese, Prince of Sulmona, is Deputato Administratore, or acting manager. In this capacity the Prince accompanied Queen Margarita in her visit to the several wards. Her Majesty always addressed him as “Signor Deputato,” and never as Prince Paul Borghese. She gave a donation to the hospital funds, and the Prince sent a servant of the hospital to the Quirinal to write in the visitor’s book an entry, stating that the Deputato Administratore of the Hospital thanked her Majesty the Queen for the honour conferred on the hospital by her visit. The Prince himself has never been to the Quirinal since 1870.


Sistine Chapel

A Requiem Mass for the repose of the soul of Pius IX. was sung in the Sistine Chapel on the 7th. No tickets of admission were given but invitations to attend were sent to the Ambassadors and Ministers accredited to the Holy See, and to the Roman nobility, and to a few distinguished strangers. The royal tribune was unoccupied. The diplomatic benches and the seats reserved for the wives and daughters of Ambassadors and for the Roman ladies were filled. The members of the Pope’s household were all present, as well as numbers of Archbishops, Bishops and prelates and heads of Religious Orders.  Six Camerieri Segreti di Spada e Cappa were on duty, dressed in their court costume. Many other camerieri were present and wore their chains of office and decorations. Among these were Commendatore Winchester, Count de Raymond, Mr. Hartwell Grissell, Mr. Ogilvy Fairlie, Mr. John Grainger, &c., &c.

All the Cardinals resident in Rome attended,except one or two, such as Guidi and Simeoni, who were indisposed. The Dean of the Sacred College sang the Mass. The Pope assisted and gave the absolutions. The catafalque was very small and was covered by a plain pall of gold cloth without any chandeliers or standards for tapers around it. Leo XIII. entered the chapel about 11 a.m. and took his seat on the throne, having on his right hand a Cardinal Deacon and Prince Orsini, Prince Assistant, and on the other hand a Cardinal deacon and the Prefect of Pontifical Masters of Ceremonies. The Mass was by Palestrina. The Dies Ire was by Mustafa. [Domenico Mustafà, the Direttore Perpetuo of the Sistine Choir was a soprano castrato].  

DON279045 Cardinal Edward Howard (oil on canvas); by English School, (19th century); 143.5x105.4 cm; His Grace The Duke of Norfolk, Arundel Castle; English, out of copyright
Cardinal Edward Howard

The absolutions were by Casciolini. Among the English and Irish ecclesiastics present were Cardinal Howard, the Hon. Dr. Clifford, Bishop of Clifton, and Bishop assistant at the throne ; Bishop O’Mahony, the Hon. and Right Rev. Mgr. Stonor, the Right Rev. Tobias Kirby, Rector of the Irish College ; and Monsignor de Stacpoole. Among the favoured occupants of the seats reserved for strangers were Lady Eyre and Mr. and Mrs. Scully. The Pope seemed in excellent health, and his clear, ringing voice was heard with distinctness in every part of the Sistine.


On Saturday, the 8th, the Requiem was sung for Pius IX. in the great Basilica of St. Peter’s. The police and soldiers in the Piazza were numerous, and order was well preserved. From 9 a.m. a constant stream of carriages poured over the bridge of St. Angelo, and by half-past ten a.m. the vast Basilica was three parts full. The crowd of worshippers kept surging and shifting, and I fancy some fifty thousand persons must have at one time been within the sacred edifice. A beautiful catafalque was erected between the confessional and the altar of the chair. The catafalque was simple and at the same time majestic, and consisted of an oblong structure built in four stages, gradually diminishing in pyramidal form. At the summit was a large triple crown in silver and gold. At each angle were five bronze candelabra in the form of fruit bearing palms, and containing a vast quantity of lights. On each stage of the catafalque were numbers of candles artistically arranged. The hangings were of black and cloth of gold.

St.Peters Sq
St. Peters Square

This catafalque presented a strong contrast to that which was erected in Sta. Maria degli Angeli for Victor Emmanuel’s requiem, and which was perhaps the most pagan in idea ever erected for a Christian funeral. The style chosen for the late King’s catafalque was Doric, the superstructure being raised on four imitation-granite columns, and having at the angles severely classical tripod lamps burning green flames (a custom borrowed from France, and never introduced into Rome until 1878 by the Italians). On the first stage of this heathenish catafalque was a piece of sculpture in white marble representing the wolf dead, and Romulus and Remus weeping. A meagre cross at the summit was the only Christian symbol.

In comparing the two funerals there was also a marked difference in the behaviour of the visitors. The State funerals of the late King were attended by well dressed persons, who took their place as in a theatre, talked with their neighbours and neither knelt nor said their prayers. The vast majority of those who on Saturday went to St. Peter’s went to pray for the repose of the soul of Pius IX. Rude persons there were, chiefly Protestants, who forced their way hither and thither, stared about, and consulted their Murray or Baedeker. But in spite of these tourists and idlers the devotion of the great multitude was fervent, and many eyes were moist with tears as the strains of the Requiem aternam, the Dies ire, and the Libera echoed through the nave. Cardinal Borromeo, Archpriest of the Basilica, sang the Mass, and hundreds of Bishops sat on benches at either side of the choir. There were no palchi and but few seats reserved for great personages other than those accommodated in the four tribunes round the confessional. But many nobles and church dignitaries stood unnoticed among the crowd, and many gentle ladies endured the fatigue of some two hours’ duration, in order to pay respect to the memory of the saintly Pontiff.


Sant Agata dei Goti, Roma

On Wednesday, the 5th of February, the Feast of St. Agatha, V. M., High Mass was celebrated in the Church of St. Agatha, the Church of the Irish College, with much solemnity. The Mass was sung by Monsignor de Stacpoole, in presence of his Eminence Cardinal. de Falloux, titular Cardinal of the Church. The Deacon and Sub-deacon were the Rev. Messrs. Hassan and McCarthy, and Mgr. Cataldi, Master of Pontifical Ceremonies, officiated as the Master of Ceremonies. The church was remarkably warm and was beautifully decorated. The esteemed Rector, Monsignor Kirby, Domestic Prelate to Leo XIII. ; Bishop O’Mahony, Mgr. Rinaldini, Archbishop Elect of Cyrene in fiartibus ; and the Very Rev. John Egan, the Vice-Rector, occupied seats in the choir. After Mass the Rector entertained at dinner his Eminence Cardinal Nina, Secretary of State ; his Eminence Cardinal de Falloux, the Hon. and Right Rev. Dr. Clifford, Bishop of Clifton ; Right Rev. Bishop O’Mahony, Monsignor Agnozzi, Secretary to the Propaganda ; Monsignor de Stacpoole, Monsignor Cataldi, Very Rev. Dr. O’Callaghan, Rector of the English College ; Monsignor Hostlot, Rector of the American College ; Very Rev. Dr. Campbell, Rector of Scots’ College ; Very Rev. Dean Quinn, the Prior of St. Clement’s, the Guardian of St. Isidore’s, the Prior of Sta. Maria in Posterula, Monsignor Rinaldini, the Marquis de Stacpoole, Mr. Scott, Mr. Mahony, the Vice-Rector of Propaganda, Dr. Ryan, Signor Fausti, Father Keogh, Rev. Dr. Stonor, Father Hayes, &c., &c.


Before the invasion of Rome by the Italians on the 20th of September [1870,nine years before this was written], the city of Rome was prosperous and rich. The people fared well. Artisans artists, and traders, had good employment and made considerable gains. The poor were able to live and received help from the ample charity of the benevolent. Gold and silver coins were in daily currency. Numbers of wealthy foreigners resided in Rome and spent quantities of money. Taxes were light. The duties paid on articles of food were not oppressive. The rents of houses were low. There was no usury, nor any sign of famine, nor any extraordinary resort to the pawn office. Suicide was unknown. Rome was a fortunate city where people lived cheaply and happily.

But since 1870 Rome, as a city for resort of strangers, has completely changed. The prices of food, apartments, and of all articles necessary for comfort and luxury have advanced enormously. Fiscal exactions, duties and taxes, caused an extravagant increase in the rents of houses and lodgings, and in the cost of wine, meat, and vegetables. The wealthy Catholic and Protestant families of all nationalities ceased to reside in Rome, because the attractions of the former Roman society no longer existed. The Court of Victor Emmanuel had no charms for Catholics. The magnificent church ceremonies were suspended. The Roman princes closed their doors and either retired to their country seats or lived in their palaces in sadness, avoiding all amusements and giving no entertainments. Rome was filled with poor Italians, mostly clerks and officials unable, upon their beggarly stipends, to do more than support their families in a miserable way. The Government proceeded to impoverish the clergy and ruin the religious orders. Convents and church lands were sold, and taxes were multiplied and increased. Buildings of all kinds were erected and new streets were planned. The cost of this outlay fell on the citizens, and the municipal taxes became exorbitant. The pawn offices were filled with pledges. Suicides were of almost daily occurrence. Crimes of violence were multiplied, and the municipality, which before 1870 did not owe a shilling and had a large balance to its credit, was sunk in debt to the amount of 57 millions of francs.

Unfinished squares and streets now occupy the sites of once flourishing vineyards and gardens. Millions of francs were expended in doubtful improvements, and the Government still urges the authorities to squander further sums in useless fortifications and in street alterations which might well be let alone. Rome is about to become a bankrupt city like Florence. The report on the economical condition of Rome, lately published by the municipal committee, shows plainly the pitiable condition to which the finances of the capital of Italy have been brought under the guidance of the new rulers. That report was signed by three municipal councillors, of whom one, a tradesman, is a Roman, the other two being Italians who knew nothing of Rome before the breach of Porta Pia.

The Government is now forced to come to the aid of the beggared Corporation and to grant a pecuniary subsidy to enable the municipality to pay its way and to undertake further schemes in hope of making Rome a city worthy to contain the King and the Parliament. These schemes will fail. Rome has indeed obtained an immense increase of population since 1870 but consisting of a class of persons who are no advantage to it. The scum of Italy has flowed into the Tiber.

Freethinkers, blasphemers, and,infidels crowd the streets of the capital of Christianity. Adventurers and speculators prey upon the foolish. But the rich and the respectable shun the city wherein drunkenness, impiety, fraud and violence seem to have settled. The beautiful ceremonies of the Feast of the Purification in St. Peter’s were witnessed by extremely few of the many foreigners now in Rome, for the morning was rainy, and a very small amount of atmospheric discomfort is sufficient to check their zeal in sight seeing. There were, however, a considerable number of poor peasants from the Campagna, and many in very picturesque costumes. It is the custom on this Feast to present immense wax candles to the Holy Father—each of the great Basilicas send one, the Heads of the Religious Orders, &c., &c. When the candle comes from a church dedicated to a martyr, the ” fiocco ” or silk tassel which tops it is red with gold threads, in other cases of various colours. These candles are richly decorated with painted designs, inscriptions, &c., and are of great size.

The 3rd of February is dedicated to S. Biagio (or St. Blaize). On this day, in most of the churches, a priest is seen sitting ready to anoint the throats of all who present themselves, with oil from the lamps that burn before the relics of the Saint, as he is the Saint whose intercessions prevent, or cure, throat maladies ; the anointing with oil from the lamp burning before a Saint is a practice that dates from the first ages of the Church.


San Biagio degli Armeni

In the Church of St. Biagio, in the Via Giulia, a High Mass was celebrated according to the gorgeous ritual of the Armenians, who have a college adjoining. The rite was most imposing. There were six deacons and as many subdeacons, clad in ample red silk dalmatics, having much cloth of gold about them, and either silver or gold stoles crossing their left shoulders ; and two acolytes in similar garments, but with adornments of black and gold. These two acolytes carried the staves, on which are many little bells to announce the more solemn portion of the Mass. These and others, in all some twenty persons, in rich vestments, surrounded the venerable Bishop, who himself made a most imposing appearance, in his magnificent cope of Oriental cloth of gold, and his silver stole and jewelled mitre. Twice during the Mass curtains of white silk, with a pattern of flowers, were drawn across the sanctuary, veiling for the few most solemn moments the altar and its ministers, first at the Consecration, then again at the Communion. Twice also those who bore the bells passed round the altar ringing them. Much fragrant incense was burnt, and the Bishop blessed the faithful, not as in the Roman rite with his hand, but with his pectoral cross, which probably contained a fragment of the true Cross. The students accompanied the intoned prayers with a peculiar low chant, which was very harmonious, like an organ heard afar off. All the service told of an Oriental people to whom the many symbolical movements speak more eloquently than words. The church is an unpretending one, and is greatly in want of repair. There were no foreigners present, but the poor of the neighbourhood crowded in to witness the unaccustomed sight, and their respectful and devout demeanour was worthy of all praise. The Via Giulia was once the Corso of Rome ; the races were run from the Ponte Sisto to S. Giovanni dei Fiorentini ; it is now a comparatively deserted street.


The ancient hospice for aged priests, by the Ponte Sisto, called the Cento Preti because one hundred aged priests formed an asylum there, is half pulled down, and the handsome church has entirely disappeared to make an approach to the public garden, which is to be made out of land reclaimed from the river, when the embanking walls shall have been completed.


On Sunday, the 2nd inst., Peter’s Pence were collected at the doors of all the churches in Rome ; the result is said to have been 40,000 francs, or £ 600. Many who saw the collector standing with his bag, but saying nothing, were ignorant for what object the collection was being made ; it is probable that if more pains had been taken to let people know it was the Peter’s Pence collection many would have given who on last Sunday passed by without doing so. The returns from the churches in Italy have not yet arrived.

MONSIGNOR BOCCALI.—Monsignor Gabriele Boccali’ one of the four Camerieri Segreti Partecipanti to his Holiness, has been appointed a Canon of St. Peter’s.

A CENTENARIAN. —This week there died at the village of Skewsby, near Mahon, Yorkshire, a woman named Elizabeth Potter at the advanced age of 105 years. The deceased had gained a livelihood by taking out coals in a cart, and this laborious occupation she kept up until a short time before her death. She is reputed to have been always very hale, hearty and active.

A DWARF SOLDIER.—The smallest conscript in France is a young man named Chapeland, just drawn in the department of the Ain. He is little more than a metre (three feet three inches) in height, the stature of a boy seven or eight years of age. He drew one of the highest numbers in the canton, but otherwise would have been exempted from active service.

The above text was found onPage 17, 15th February 1879, in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at .

The Coronation Anniversary – Rome 1881

Yet again, in a slightly Zelig-like way Mgr HH is lurking in the background

The Tablet Page 17, 12th March 1881


Vatican City Bridge and St Peters
Vatican City Bridge and St Peters

March 6, 1881.


On Sunday, Feb. 27, and on several other days last week, the Holy Father admitted to his private Mass a number of distinguished personages. On the 28th, audience was given to the Councillors of the Italian Catholic Young Men’s Society, headed by the President-General, Professor Commendatore Filippo Tolli, who presented Peter Pence to the amount of 6,000 francs, and addresses from the branches of the society in various Italian cities, including Sorrento, Ancona, Brescia, Parma, Lucca, Turin, Benevento, Viareggio, Verona, Viterbo, Padua, Siena, Genoa, Venice, Pisa,, Bologna, and Milan. Among the recent offerings of Peter Pence was the sum of 20,000 francs in gold presented by a deputation of the managers of the Bank of Rome, consisting of Prince Gabrielli, President ; Marchese Mereghi and Cavaliere Rosellini.

On the occasion of the anniversaries of his creation and coronation the Holy Father expended by means of his Private Almoner 10,000 francs in the purchase of beds for poor families in Rome.

On the first of March the members of the College of Masters of Apostolical Ceremonies, headed by the prefect, Monsignor Cataldi, were received in private audience.

Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich

On Ash-Wednesday several families of distinguished strangers were admitted to the Pope’s private chapel and received communion from the hands of his Holiness, who subsequently distributed the ashes. At twelve o’clock the same day the Grand Duke Constantine, nephew of the Emperor of Russia, visited the Vatican in state. His Highness wore a military uniform and was accompanied by a brilliant suite. The pontifical officials wore full dress uniforms and the Russian Grand Duke was received with all due honours and remained some time in private audience with his Holiness. He then proceeded to pay the customary visit of ceremony to Cardinal Jacobini.

Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich
Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich

The Grand Dukes Sergius and Paul likewise paid visits to Leo XII. and the Secretary of State. They were attired in military uniforms.

In a rather tragic footnote: The Grand Dukes’ visit to the Holy Father was eleven days before the assassination of their father Tsar Alexander II in St Petersburg on 13 March 1881.


On the 3rd of March, the third anniversary of the coronation of Leo XIII., solemn High Mass was celebrated in the Sistine Chapel. His Holiness, wearing the Tiara and preceded and followed by the officials of the Noble Ante-camera, entered the chapel at a quarter past eleven a.m., and took his seat on the throne.

Prince Oscar Bernadotte
Prince Oscar Bernadotte

The Mass was pontificated by Cardinal Alimonda, the first creation of his Holiness present in Rome. The music consisted of Fazzini’s Mass, with the afifiaruit and Benedictus of Baini. In the Royal tribune sat the Grand Dukes Sergius, Paul and Constantine, of Russia, arid the Princes Oscar and Charles of Sweden.

Prince Carl of Sweden
Prince Carl of Sweden

The Grand Master of the Order of Malta and two Knights Commendatori were in another tribune. All the Ambassadors and Ministers accredited to the Holy See, with the members of their several Legations, were also present. Great numbers of the Roman nobles and their wives occupied reserved seats. The benches for ladies were crowded. Prince Ruspoli, Master of the Sacred Hospice, was unable to attend on account of illness. All the Cardinals in Rome, and an extraordinary number of Patriarchs, Archbishops, and Bishops, including the Archbishop of Halifax, the Bishops of Clifton, Salford, Maitland, Ossory and Dubuque, were in seats behind the Cardinals. Monsignors Stonor, Kirby, and O’Bryen were also present. In the posts allotted to visitors I noticed Sir George and Lady Bowen, Lady Eyre, Marchesa Murphy and daughter, Mrs. K Airlie, Miss Fane, Miss Gillow, Mr. Garstin, High Sheriff of county Louth, Prince Windischgratz, Hon. and Rev. Algernon Stanley, Mr. Sweetman, Mr. and Mrs. Smithwick, Mr. and Miss Donahue, Mrs. Meynell, Mr. Meagher, Mr. and Mrs. Butler, &c. Among the Chamberlains were Messrs. Winchester, Fairlie, Grissell, De Raymond, and O’Gorman. Before descending from his private apartments the Pope received in private audience Prince Altieri, Commandant of the Noble Guards, and the higher officials of that corps, the Commandants of the Swiss Guards and of the Palatine Guards, and Gendarmes. In the Throne-room, the room of the chapel, and in the Tapestry-hall the other officers of these corps were drawn up to receive his Holiness. After the Mass special audience was given to the Grand Master of the Order of Malta, who subsequently paid a visit of ceremony to Cardinal Jacobini, Secretary of State. In the evening Monsignor Rotelli, formerly Archdeacon of Perugia, and now Bishop of Montefiascone, was received in private audience, and remained some time in conversation with his Holiness.

The Carnival – Rome 1881

This is included because it makes me smile, and even though he’s nor directly mentioned because Mgr O’Bryen was there. Once again, it’s the Tablet coming up trumps…….


Piazza delle Quattro Fontane
Piazza delle Quattro Fontane, Roma

Few persons resident in Rome regret the termination of, the Carnival, except perhaps the very thoughtless and foolish who desire perpetual excitement. The extension of the Carnival on Sunday February 27th, to the Via Nazionale and Maccao was a novelty. Between the Via Quattro Fontane and the upper end of the Via Nazionale thirteen arches, each furnished with 120 jets of gas, were erected so as to form a tunnel of brilliant light ending in a large star of Italy. The cost of this gas illumination was 200 lire per hour.

Stazione Termini Roma c.1890
Stazione Termini Roma c.1890

The façade of the railway station was splendidly illuminated, and the Piazza dell’ Independenza was a garden of coloured lanterns. The procession of carriages in the Via Nazionale was a fiasco, and the line of rails for the trams (which were, of course, stopped for the time) was an evident nuisance. The throwing of cauliflowers or cabbages, for such were many of the so-called bouquets of flowers, was more violent than usual, in spite of a notification to the public that violent throwing either of confetti or flowers was an offence punishable by the Questura.

Via Nationale Roma
Via Nationale Roma

Five persons were wounded in the Via Nazionale on that Sunday, not reckoning the contusions and lacerations inflicted on the eight or ten persons flung down by the horses of the Duca di Fiano. The last day of the Carnival was somewhat wet. During the previous night heavy showers of rain fell and reduced the Corso to a lane of mud. The afternoon cleared up and there was nothing to prevent the moccolletti, and the cremation of Father Carnival, whose wife, to judge by her tottering steps guided by a pair of stalwart supporters, seemed to feel deeply the fate of her spouse. The cremation of Corso Forzoso, represented by a sarcophagus containing paper money, excited much applause. Lanterns of various colours, labelled twenty franc pieces, were carried round in triumph.

Piazza del Popolo from the Pincio
Piazza del Popolo from the Pincio
The Pincio
The Pincio

The Pincio was at the same time illuminated. The theatres, especially the Costanzi, which were turned into dancing saloons, were crowded to excess, and were kept open almost all-night. The pawn offices were in great request, more articles being put in pledge in the Carnival week than during the three previous months.

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


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.

Feast of St Patrick – Rome 1887

The Tablet Page 17, 26th March 1887

FEAST OF ST. PATRICK.Irish_College,_Rome

The Feast of St. Patrick, the Apostle and Patron Saint of Ireland, was celebrated according to custom at the Irish College by a preparatory triduum in the Church of St. Agatha, the preachers being the Very Rev. Mgr. Dillon, of Australia, the Bishop of St. Paul, U.S.A., and the Archbishop of Melbourne ; and the sermon each day being followed by Solemn Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. On the feast itself High Mass was sung at ten a.m., and later Archbishop Kirby entertained at dinner the Cardinal Archbishop of Quebec, the Cardinal Archbishop of Baltimore’ the Secretary of Propaganda (Mgr. Jacobini), the Archbishop of Melbourne ; the Bishops of Richmond, St. Paul, and Columbus U.S.A. ; the Right Rev. Abbot Smith, O.S.B. ; the Rectors of the English, North American, and Scots Colleges, Mgr. O’Bryen, Mgr. Dillon, and other guests. At the Irish Franciscans of St. Isidore, the Papal Consistory of that day to confer the red hat on the new cardinals necessitated the postponement of the sermon in honour of St. Patrick, annually delivered in that church. It will be preached on Sunday by the Bishop of Richmond, U.S.A.