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The Catholic Standard, 29th April 1966
Did Telefis Eireann overlook the Catholic inspiration of the 1916 heroes?

Friday, 29th April 1966

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While deserved praise has been given to Telefis Eireann for the excellent technical coverage of the 1916 Golden Jubilee celebrations and the special features televised such as ‘Insurrection’ the question is asked did Telefis Eireann sufficiently stress the Catholic life and Catholic inspiration of the 1916 leaders and their religious idealism? Did Telefis Eireann adequately record the work of priests and religious during and after the rising especially that of the Capuchin Fathers whose devotion has gone down into the stirring history of the period?

Pearse was there kneeling and the light showing on his face as he clasped the crucifix," said Father Leonard...

Complaint has been made that Telefis Eireann omitted in some instances to bring out the spiritual depth of the men who faced defeat and death so nobly. It is now desirable to do so because the memory of some of the leaders, notably James Connolly, has been maligned in the past.

The spiritual qualities of the leaders and their deep faith are shown by further facts about their last days, given below, which have drama and poignancy. These have been made available to the Catholic Standard by Rev. Fr. Leonard, O.F.M.Cap., Guardian, Capuchin Friary, Church Street, Dublin, from where self sacrificing friars including Father Aloysius, Father Augustine and Father Albert went to bring succour to the 1916 heroes.

Father Leonard during the past week appeared twice on Telefis Eireann Newsbeat and in answer to Frank Hall told of little known incidents which throw new light on the leaders. Through the courtesy of Father Leonard we are also privileged to publish on this page a photograph of the crucifix which Pearse kissed and venerated on the morning of his execution on May 3, along with Thomas Clarke and Thomas MacDonagh.

Image of Fr Leonard Coughlan with a crucifix

Fr Leonard Coughlan with the crucifix Pearse venerated before his execution on 3rd May 1916 ©

Interviewed by the Editor of the Catholic Standard, Father Leonard said that Father Aloysius and Father Augustine of Church Street were called to Kilmainham jail to minister to Pearse, Clarke and MacDonagh on the morning of their execution.

Father Aloysius, walking in the corridor saw a light shining through the spy hole in Pearse’s cell. "Father Aloysius looked in. Pearse was there kneeling and the light showing on his face as he clasped the crucifix," said Father Leonard.


This is the same crucifix which is seen held by Father Leonard on the top right of this page. This was the crucifix which Father Aloysius had brought with him to the jail and which he had left with Patrick Pearse earlier. Pearse scratched his initials; ‘P.M.P.’ for the Irish form of his name, on the back of the crucifix as a memento for Father Aloysius.

The crucifix has since been preserved in the Church Street Friary and Father Leonard says that it was used by Father Aloysius at missions.

The cross is of wood and the figures of Our Lord, Our Lady and the skull and crossbones of brass. Father Aloysius and Father Augustine were not permitted on May 3, 1916 to stay with the condemned men, Pearse, Clarke and MacDonagh until their execution but had to leave Kilmainham jail between 2 and 3 am

The Catholic Standard,
April 29, 1966
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