Thousands of Irish in Vatican for canonisation of popes

Cardinal Seán Brady and former archbishop of Dublin Desmond Connell among concelebrants

Pope Francis waves to the faithful in St Peter’s Square in Rome after the canonisation of popes John XXIII and John Paul II yesterday. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Pope Francis waves to the faithful in St Peter’s Square in Rome after the canonisation of popes John XXIII and John Paul II yesterday. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

 

The Irish Catholic Church was represented at the most senior level at yesterday’s Mass and canonisation ceremony in St Peter’s Square, Rome.

Among the concelebrants were Ireland’s two cardinals: primate Cardinal Seán Brady and former archbishop of Dublin Desmond Connell. Also among the concelebrants were Bishop Brendan Leahy of Limerick and Bishop Kieran O’Reilly of Killaloe, who led a group of 53 pilgrims from his diocese to Rome for the event.

There were an estimated 3,000 Irish pilgrims there. A special Mass for them and to give thanks for the canonisations will be concelebrated at 4pm today by Cardinal Brady as well as Bishops Leahy and O’Reilly at the Church of St Maria in Navicella in Rome.

In Dublin’s Pro Cathedral yesterday, during a Mass to mark the canonisation of both saints, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said saints are men and women who, in their day-to-day ordinary lives, try heroically to live the Christian life.

He recalled the election of both as popes. “In 1958, when I was just 13 years old, my great fascination was with broadcasting . . . Much of my homework was done watching television and that’s what I was doing late one autumn evening in 1958 when BBC television interrupted its programming . . .”

In 1978, the archbishop was in St Peter’s Square when the election of John Paul II was announced. “Again, it was a surprise and very few could have imagined the extraordinary effect that this young pope – he was only 58 years old at the time – was to have on the church and the world . . .”