Ireland’s first Jesuits
A new book of letters by Irish Jesuits in the 17th century shows that although the Jesuits were only few in number at the time, they were making their mark across Ireland. Irish Jesuit Annual Letters, 1604-1674 is edited by Dr Vera Moynes and published by the Irish Manuscripts Commission.
The bookcontains the twenty-five 17th century letters which have survived. These were epistolary reports which every Jesuit mission and province was expected to send to Rome each year, reporting in an informative and inspiring way on the conditions of the place and the progress in ministries.
Vera Moynes tells how the Jesuits in Ireland were small in number but had a wide ranging influence, but also how some of them even faced death for their work, with several martyrs featuring in the letters.
The letters also give first-hand accounts of the famine in Connacht, the massacre in Drogheda, as well as of exorcisms and reported miracles across the land.
Vera begins by explaining to Pat Coyle about the Jesuits that died and how Ireland in those days would have been a very dangerous place for Catholics, especially priests and discussed the Jesuits who died doing their work.