Dubliner Ray O’Donnell, organist at Galway Cathedral. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

Few directors of music at European cathedrals can say they have held the post for almost half the lifetime of the august building in which they work. (...)

Cardinal Keith O’Brien’s resignation comes two years after he stepped down as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, having admitted inappropriate sexual behaviour towards priests in the 1980s. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

In an extremely rare move, the Vatican yesterday announced that the pope had accepted the resignation of the “rights and privileges” of a cardinal,(...)

A self-portrait by the Irish-born painter Francis Bacon has sold at a Sotheby’s art auction in London for almost €20 million.Two Studies for Self-Port(...)

Today, December 8th, is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Know why? Nine out of 10 people get it wrong. They think it refers to the conception o(...)

Pope Pius II (1405-1464): His book, On Europe (1458), influenced by Strabo’s Geography,  has (just) this to say about Ireland: “We ought now to acquit ourselves of Ireland, which is separated from Britain by a short stretch of sea, […]but since nothing worth remembering has taken place there, we understand, during the period we write about, we hurry on to matters Spanish.” Photograph:  APIC/Getty Images

In 1513, shortly after completing The Prince, Machiavelli (1469-1527) wrote a letter to a friend describing his life on the farm to which he had be(...)

Miler Magrath: “The rehabilitation process could be tricky. For Catholics, Miler has the double black mark of being a ‘heretic’  for taking the Oath of Supremacy to Elizabeth and for having been excommunicated. On the Protestant side, Miler is an embarrassment, although the only known portrait of him hangs alongside those of other bishops in the Clogher episcopal gallery. ”

It may be time to rehabilitate Miler Magrath as Ireland’s pioneering ecumenist. He managed to be simultaneously a Catholic and a Protestant bishop, a (...)

In a word

A cardinal rule for reporters is, “never assume”. Assumption can lead you into all sorts of dangerous terrain, unless you are the Virgin Mary. The Fea(...)

Pope Francis  at the Mass in Piana de Sibari in Calabria. Photograph: Franco Origlia/Getty Images

“The ’Ndrangheta [Calabrian mafia] represents the adoration of evil and total contempt for the common good . . . Those who in their lives have chosen (...)

 A view of the Famine memorial in Dublin. Photograph: Frank Miller

In 1877, a generation after the Great Famine, the historian AM Sullivan wrote that the people of the south and west mingled praise and blame in respec(...)

Pope Francis   at the Vatican yesterday. Of the last eight popes, seven are at different stages on the road to sainthood. Photograph: Osservatore Romano/Reuters

The papalisation of canonisations is a modern phenomenon. Of the 265 deceased popes to date only 78 have been canonised with most of those being marty(...)