St. Oliver Plunkette
July 1, Martyr


Also known as
    • Oileabhéar Pluincéad

    •  1 July
    •  10 July in some parts of Ireland

Born to the Irish nobility in a family who supported King Charles I, and the fight for national freedom. Educated by Jesuits at the newly established Irish College, Rome, Italy. Ordained in Rome, Italy in 1654. Professor of theology from 1654 through 1669. Procurator for Irish bishops. Bishop of Meath, Ireland. Archbishop of Armagh, Ireland in 1669. Primate of all Ireland. Established the Jesuits in Drogheda, where they ran a school for boys, and a college for theology students. Extended his ministry to Gaelic speaking Catholics of the highlands and the isles of Scotland. Forced to conduct a covert ministry during the suppression of priests.

Arrested and tried at Dundalk, Ireland in 1679 on a charge of conspiring against the state by plotting to bring 20,000 French soldiers into the country, and for leveling a tax on his clergy to support 70,000 men for rebellion. Lord Shaftesbury knew that Oliver would never be convicted in Ireland, and had him moved to Newgate prison, London. The first grand jury found no true bill, but he was not released. The second trial was a kangaroo court; Lord Campbell, writing of the judge, Sir Francis Pemberton, called it a disgrace to himself and his country. Plunkett was found guilty of high treason “for promoting the Catholic faith,” and was condemned to a gruesome death. He was the last Catholic to die for his faith at Tyburn, London, England and the first of the Irish martyrs to be beatified.

    •    30 September 1629 at Loughenew, County Meath, Ireland

    •    hanged, drawn, and quartered on 1 July 1681 at Tyburn, England
    •    body initially buried in two tin boxes next to five Jesuits who had died before him
    •    his head is in Saint Peter’s Church at Drogheda, Ireland
    •    most of his body is at Downside Abbey, Somerset, England
    •    some relics in other churches in Ireland

    •    17 March 1918 by Pope Benedict XV

    •    21 May 1920 by Pope Benedict XV at Rome, Italy

    •    12 October 1975 by Pope Paul VI at Rome, Italy

    •    Armagh, Ireland, archdiocese

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