Today is our saint day In case you missed the last few installments, head there and have a look!
Tiffany at Life of a Catholic Librarian, is blogging about Pope St. John Paul II and I am taking a Dominican saint (of course!) with Bl. Terrence Albert O’Brien, a timely saint for the upcoming Solemnity of All Saints. Please head over for her installment.
You may be wondering why I chose this Blessed. There is a connection to Tiffany’s saint. In 1992, then Pope John Paul II beatified 17 Irish martyrs, two of which were Dominican, with Bl. Terrence Albert O’Brien being one of them. Let’s dig in…
Bl. Terrence Albert O’Brien’s was born in Limerick in 1600 taking the name “Albert” for the Dominican saint St. Albert the Great. He is also known as Toirdhealbhach Albert Ó Briain. He was raised by his mother and an aged priest. No doubt that’s where he got the first stirrings of devoting himself to God. Later, he reached out to his uncle, already a prior in the Dominican Convent of Limerick, and was soon received into the Friars Preachers. When he turned 20, he went to the Dominican School of Toledo where he spent 8 years studying and was ordained. He was then sent back to Limerick to assist his Dominican brothers in mission and lived with them for 15 years. During this time, he was elected prior of his convent in Limerick. In 1647, he was made Bishop of Emly. Throughout this time, there was political upset (especially for the Franciscans who were, at the time, more politically engaged).
In 1651, Ireton, an English general in the Parliamentary army during the English Civil War, took over his town of Limerick. It’s recorded that 8,000 people died of a “pestilence” during this time as well and where the missionaries of St. Vincent de Paul attended to the sick and dying. On October 27th of that year, the town was compelled to surrender to Ireton. Bl. Terrence Albert O’Brien knew what was coming, as 24 others were arrested, and so he returned to where the sick were, to spend whatever time he had left helping the sick. Officers eventually found him and Ireton informed him he would be court-martialed and imprisoned until his sentence (read DEATH!) was to be pronounced because he refused to accept the Crown than to renounce his Catholic faith. What did he ask for? His confessor. BOOM.
According to The Acts of the General Chapter in 1656 stated that, “he went with joy to the place of execution and there with a serene countenance, turning to his Catholic friends, who stood in the crowd inconsolable and weeping.” Once he arrived at the gallows, he gave his own final testament and prayer.
Jesus despised the shame for me upon the Cross, and God forbid but I should despise the shame for him upon the Gallows….I am not in love with this passage through the Red Sea, for I have the weakness and infirmity of flesh and blood in me, and I have prayed as my Savior taught me, and exampled me: ut transiret calix ista, that this cup might pass away from me; but since it is not, that my will may, his will be done; I shall most willingly drink of it as deep as he pleases, and enter into this Sea, and I pass through it, in the way that he shall be pleased to lead me.
He was martyred on the Vigil of All Saints Day. In Lives of the Irish Martyrs and Confessors it states that Bl. Terrence Albert O’Brien “summoned” Ireton to answer for his crimes and just 18 days after O’Brien’s martyrdom, he was “seized with the plague” and died 16 days after that. I was also able to find Bl. Terrence Albert O’Brien’s execution speech in The Harleian Miscellany, Or, A Collection of Scarce, Curious, and Entertaining Pamphlets and Tracts.
‘O Lord, I beseech Thee, give grace of repentance to all people that have a thirst for blood; but if they will not repent, then scatter their devices so, and such as are, or shall be, contrary to: the glory of Thy great Name, the truth and sincerity of the ancient Catholic religion, the establishing of the Royal Posterity in their just rights and liberties, the preservation of this poor Church in her truth, peace, and patrimony; and the settlement of this distracted and distressed people under their ancient laws and in their native liberties.
‘And when Thou hast done this in mere mercy for them, O Lord, fill their hearts with thankfulness and with religious dutiful obedience to Thee and Thy Commandments, all their days.
‘So Amen, Lord Jesus; and I beseech Thee receive my soul to mercy.’
When he had finished his prayer, he took his leave of some friends there present, saying, “God’s blessing and His mercy be upon you all;” and so went up to the ladder, where he again prayed as followeth.
‘Lord, I am coming as fast as I can. I know I must pass through the shadow of death before I can come to see Thee, but it is but “umbra mortis”, a mere shadow of death, a little darkness upon nature. But Thou, by Thy merits and Passion, hast broke the jaws of death. So Lord, receive my soul, and have mercy upon me.’
No sooner had he uttered these expressions, but immediately he was turned off the ladder.
Bl. Terrence Albert O’Brien, pray for us.
Head over and read Tiffany’s post all about Pope St. John Paul II.