Relic to spend two weeks in Ireland on first visit


THE MOST precious relic of the Order of St Camillus, the heart of its founder, arrived in Dublin yesterday at the beginning of a visit to Ireland which will last more than two weeks. It has been organised to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the order’s arrival in Ireland.

This is just the third time the relic has left Rome since the saint died on July 14th (his feast day) 1614 and is its first visit to Ireland.

Camillus, after a dissolute youth, converted to religious life and set up the order in 1591 with a mission to care for the sick even at the risk to one’s own life. He was canonised in 1746 and is known as patron saint of the sick and those who care for them.

The founder of its Irish province, Fr Terence O’Rourke from Blackrock in Dublin, came back to Ireland from France in 1935 with a small number of Irish Camillians who were then members of the French province. He set up what was to become the mother house at Killucan, Co Westmeath, where there is a nursing centre.

After the second World War the order spread to England and the Anglo Irish province was set up.

The order has three communities in Ireland – at Killucan, Co Westmeath, and at Booterstown and St Vincent Street north in Dublin.

It also has chaplains at the Mater hospital, the Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown, and at St Luke’s in Rathgar.

The order is to be found in 33 countries worldwide, with its largest number in Africa and Asia. There are 21 members in the Anglo Irish province, 16 of those in its Irish section.

The relic was accompanied from Rome yesterday by Fr Stephen Foster, provincial of the Anglo Irish province. Hailing from Newcastle upon Tyne, he has been in Ireland 11 years, three of those as provincial. He joined the order after seeing an ad in the Universe Catholic newspaper.

He believes St Camillus “is an inspiring figure. He turned his life around and see what happened!”

He recalled that two stewardesses on the flight from Rome said that accompanying the relic was really emotional. “It’s really emotional for us as well,” he said.

The relic was taken under Garda escort to Killucan yesterday where it will remain until Thursday next. Then it will be brought to Dublin’s Mater hospital. Full details of the visit are at