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Monday 20 June 1932

The Standard’    (Dublin)

Dun Laoghaire gleamed like a beautiful jewel on the breast of Ireland, the sunlight pouring down upon its white streets, flashing on its graceful spires, accentuating the coolness of the trees over its harbour, and turning the whole bay into a flood of molten silver, as it waited for the coming of the Ambassador of our Most Holy Father the Pope.

The Guard of Honour, with green uniforms and flashing accoutrements, was already in place beside the gangway, and the Legate’s guard, resplendent in blue and saffron, stood by their horses near the pier.  A tiny smudge of smoke far out to sea had caused a murmur of expectation to run through the great gathering, but the excitement grew to fever pitch when the great hull of the ‘Cambria’ came up clear of the horizon.  Overhead the screaming of the gulls was suddenly drowned by the hum of engines and a flight of aeroplanes in the form of a Cross came out of the clear sky over the ship.  A few minutes more and the ‘Cambria’ slides into the harbour.  All is bustle on the pier.

On the bridge of the ship stands a figure clad in gorgeous vivid red.  It is the Cardinal Legate.  Very still he stands, the breeze fluttering his scarlet cloak, his face turned towards the crowded shore.  There is one breathless moment – all eyes are feasting on the ‘Cambria’s’ bridge; and then a roar of welcome rings out from the people, drowning almost the thunder of the guns firing the royal salute.  The aeroplanes dip above the ship and fly inland to circle and circle over the road to Dublin; sirens sound, the thunder of the guns continues, the bells of the churches break into joyous chimes, but all is as nothing to that shout of welcome bursting from Irish hearts, swelling from a thousand throats, spreading in waves for miles and miles along the road to Dublin.

The blue and saffron soldiers are in the saddle now, and the Archbishop of Dublin goes up the gangway to greet the Legate.  A few minutes more and they come, along the crimson carpet, through the cheering multitude which sways to its knees as the Legate lifts
his hand in benediction.

Tuesday 22 June 1932


Revue Des Deux Mondes (Paris)

Blackrock College, standing on a height, looks down on the road leading from Dun Laoghaire to Dublin.  A garden party was given in the grounds in honour of the Papal Legate, the bishops and distinguished foreign visitors.

Here I met Monsignor Redwood, Archbishop of Wellington and doyen of the Episcopacy, who at ninety-three years of age, had come from New Zealand; the Apostolic Vicars – three French monks – from Yukon, Natal and the Fiji Islands, the Hindu Archbishop of the
Syro-Malabar rite, just come over to the roman church with two thousand of his flock; Monsignor Czarnicki of the Slav rite.

A huge crowd, uniformed, black-robed, move about in the large halls of the Castle.  On the platform in St Patrick’s Hall, the Papal Legate, grave, smiling, is surrounded by the church dignitaries, Cardinal MacRory, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of all Ireland, with the keen eyes and pronounced features of his race; Cardinal Bourne of Westminster, with his fine, distinguished English countenance; the Italian, Cardinal Lavitrano of Palermo, with kindly spiritual countenance; Cardinal Verdier of Paris, with the fatherly look of the French priest. 

Cardinal Lauri receives the respectful homage of all as they file past, the orchestra playing softly.

The file of Church dignitaries’ pauses, the music ceases.  Mr de Valera, in the black coat which has taken the place of the more democratic dress, greets the representative of the Head of the Church, on behalf of the Irish people.  At first he speaks in the ancient, national tongue, Gaelic; then he translates his words into Latin.

At nightfall, as we were returning through the brilliantly lighted streets, one of my companions makes the remark that Catholic Ireland had not sufficient ground space for her demonstration of faith; in luminous letters across the sky is expressed the homage of the Irish people.

François Veuillot


Wednesday 22 June 1932


‘The Far East’     (USA Edition)

The sun had not set over Ireland, that night, when at 9pm Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament began in all the parishes of Dublin.  While the magic of the long Irish twilight still lingered, most of the churches were already filled for Midnight Mass.  The scenes in Dublin between that dusk and dawn are probably without parallel anywhere.  After the churches were filled, men and women knelt out on the sidewalks, in long queues that wound out into the darkness.  There they prayed and joined in hymns and united their hearts with the Sacrifice that was being offered within.  In some places extra Masses were celebrated out in the open for the overflow of worshippers.  There was a General Communion during the Masses and not until three O’clock in the morning – half an hour before daybreak – was there an end to the communicants that came continuously, in wave after wave, up to the altar rails.

Meanwhile every window in Dublin framed a light.  The length of every street glimmered like the side of a huge liner with hundred of lighted port holes.  Powerful searchlights pouring their rays through lettered screens, projected might words across the dark sky.  Laudamus! Glorificamus! Adoramus! ‘We praise, we glorify, we adore!’  Out in the Bay the pilgrims’ ships – American, German, English, Italian, Canadian, Dutch – were sparkling with light.

Dublin was luminous that night in every way and in the highest way.  Lights there were on sea and on land, and in the people’s hearts there was the Light of the World.


Thursday 23 June 1932


The Simla Times

The grandest sight I have so far seen was last night, Thursday, 23 June.  It was the mass meeting for men alone at 8pm in the Pheonix Park.  First, there was an address in Irish.  Then the Archbishop of St Louis, USA, delivered an address which for poetic feeling, solid doctrine, practical suggestions and charm of diction was the most agreeable speech I have listened to for many a long year.  It was a powerful appeal for charity and peace, domestic, national, and international based on the bond of unity arising from participation at the same table in the Holy Eucharist.  Then to my surprise the Cardinal Legate spoke in English, thanking the men of Ireland for a manifestation of love for the Blessed Sacrament that surpassed all his anticipations. 

Benediction followed.  You could hear a pin drop.  The Sacred Host was on the Altar Throne, the Cardinal Legate kneeling on the steps.  Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops filled the semi-circle of the colonnade on either side.  Priests without number were on both sides of the Altar, and the Legate blessed all with the Blessed Sacrament.  The trumpets sounded a fanfare of honour.  It was enough to shake the heart of any man.  I raised my head and looked over a sea of faces, two hundred and fifty thousand men each holding a candle in his hand.  A lovelier or more moving sight I can hardly hope to see again anywhere on the face of the earth. 

Friday 24 June


                                                                                         Belfast Newsletter         

I saw today a remarkable camp of over six hundred white tents on the fields at Artane, where the Knights of St Columba, a body of English and Scottish Roman Catholics, have their headquarters.  It is like some medieval encampment.  The knights, perhaps, are more fortunate than most.  So over-crowded are the hotels that even bedrooms are shared among groups of people.  At least there is ample space in which to move about in this wide plain of tents.

The streets of the city did not seem a whit less congested this evening, but it was a male multitude that flocked about the pavements.  The women and the girls had all marched away to the Pheonix Park, there to receive at the High Altar the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.  Astounding were the scenes as three hundred and fifty thousand women trudged along the sun-scorched roads to the vast playground of Dublin.

Last night an illimitable sea of men had been seen before the altar.  Their dark clothes had made it appear like a great grey picture.  Today with bright frocks the multitude appeared like a many-coloured mosaic laid on the ‘floor’ of this spacious open air cathedral, with a blue sky for a dome.

Saturday 25 June


                                                                                             Assisi (Dublin)

Undoubtedly, the most inspiring by far of these great gatherings was that of the children.  For them there was a special Pontifical Mass.  It was an ideal morning – sunny, yet cool.  From the early hours I watched them gathering, and never in my life have I assisted at a spectacle so lovely and so moving.  From the beautiful homes of the suburbs and from the humblest lanes and tenements of the city they came; and so neatly, so tastefully were the children of the poor arrayed, and so well did they comport themselves that to distinguish them from among those more highly favoured by worldly fortune was an impossible task.  It was a fine illustration of the elevating and refining influence of simple faith.  What lovely children they were – the little girls in white dresses and flowing veils, the boys in white trousers and gaily coloured coats, and all carrying Papal bannerettes.  They filled the trams, they crowded the ‘buses, they marched in orderly companies under the guidance of teachers, they moved in little groups under the watchful eyes of proud parents.  They laughed, they sang, their sweet and fresh young voices rippling in the air.  The City of Dublin was delivered over to them for the day; all mere elders had to take a back place.  The policemen and tram conductors and Congress stewards acknowledged their sway and it must be said that the little ones exercised it with the utmost grace.  Not only from Dublin, but from the remotest parts of Ireland they came – messengers of happiness and joy from thousands of homes that had sent them with pride.

I walked among them to the Park.  As I entered the great fields I was surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of them: little boys scampering happily, wavy lines of little girls with hands joined, veils flying and white stockinged feet flitting over the grass.  And here I cannot refrain from mentioning a little incident which I treasure in fragrant memory.

I was tolling up a rather steep slope when a group of little ones gathered round me.  One caught my hand, another my cord, and others again, as I suppose, encouraged me by their advice and exhortation!  Dear children!  Your little hands were very weak, but none the less you imparted to me a great inward strength and vigour!  Sacred words came to my mind: ‘And a little child shall lead them’. 

Dear children!  I know not where you are now, or whether you remember the old man to whom you gave such valuable assistance, but from my heart I acknowledge your graceful gesture of helpfulness, and I bless you from my heart.  ‘Suffer the Little Children . . . ‘

The Children’s Mass is, perhaps, the dearest of all my Congress memories.  I need not attempt to describe it in full.  There remains indelibly graven on my mind the sight of colourful masses of children now all reverent and recollected; never have I seen such a multitude of little ones, never have I witnessed in children so young such edifying demeanour.  There still resounds in my ears the thousands of sweet young voices in perfect unison and marvellous harmony singing the praises of God, calling up thoughts of the angelic choirs.  There still lingers with me the vision of the venerable Cardinal Legate of Christ’s Vicar – the Christ who once said: ‘Suffer the little children to come unto Me’ – moving down the seemingly interminable ranks of Ireland’s youth, the vision of thousands and thousands of little hands waving flags, the sound of thousands and thousands of little throats voicing their pure, spontaneous enthusiasm.

I recall, too, with infinite pleasure the delightful scenes I witnessed when the whole great event was over – of teachers, parents, elders reclaiming the little ones and leading them away.  In spite of the swarms of children – I can find no other phrase to express their numbers – the task was an easy one enough, thanks to the supreme perfection of the arrangements. 

It touched me to see strong men, with great pride shining in their faces, hoist little ones on their shoulders and lead others by the hand.  It was a day of days for the youngsters and for their parents also.  God bless you, children of Ireland!  May you nobly fulfil the rich promises of your glorious youth!

Father Giovanni Bastista Balducci, OFM

Sunday 26 June

MASS IN PHEONIX PARK                           

Daily Herald (London)

It is a crowd so vast that it lies over a square mile of parkland, hiding every blade of grass.  It is a dark, tattered carpet of a crowd.  A carpet a mile square, picked out with a pale pattern that is hundreds of thousands of human faces, brightened with countless specks of red and blue which are the clothes of women.

How great is it?  No one can say.  It may be three-quarters of a million.  It may be a million.  It may be even more than a million.  It is impossible to calculate such a crowd.  All I can say about it is that no crowd quite like it has ever been seen in our time.  So great is the awed silence of this incredible host as it watches the white throne, that you can hear a bird singing among the trees and the wild cries of gulls that have come from the coast and wheel above the altar.

Hundreds of thousands of these men and women have nothing in the world but their faith.  Suddenly across the dead silence of a million men and women, who kneel on the grass in unshakable belief that they kneel in the actual presence of God, comes a strange and indescribable sound.  At first I think it is like something muffled and rung in a cave by the sea.  It is a hollow sound.  It is an old sound.  It is the sound of St Patrick’s Mass bell telling Irishmen, after its centuries of silence, that Christ has come among them.

The sound comes three times.  It is the very sound that so long ago in that lovely April of faith when Patrick flung down the heathen gods drew Irishmen to his little chapel.  It is the bell that, as legend says, the saint took with him to Croagh Patrick when he wrestled with demons. 

It is the bell that was buried with him in the year 461.  It is the sound of the bell that the saint whom the West adores, Columcille, or Columba, took years afterwards to St Patrick’s tomb.  And now it is ringing for Mass again, not only in Dublin, not only in Ireland, but all over the world.

The sound of St Patrick’s bell is in the waves of the air.  Men in distant lands can hear it.  It crosses the sea with the speed of thought.  It rings across continents, and the message it gives to the world today is the message it gave to Ireland 1,400 years ago.  At the sound of it, the armed men round the altar spring to attention; trumpeters blow a fanfare.  The officers lift their drawn swords in salute, holding them towards the Host.  The square mile of humanity on its knees covers its eyes and bends in prayer.  There is no Catholic in the immense crowd who does not believe that he is in the presence of God.  A movement like a ripple runs across the crowd.  It is the Sign of the cross.  In the hush I can hear a bird singing, and I hope that the sound of its voice went out over the world with the sound of St Patrick’s bell.

H V Morton, Special Correspondent

Sunday 26 June

After the Celebration of Mass in Pheonix Park the great procession of people marched for over three hours to arrive at O’Connell Bridge by several routes.   There, on the bridge, a special altar had been erected for Benediction.


The Month   (New Zealand)

The final Solemn Benediction now commenced.  At first, a silence as of the open fields of a remote countryside; but, as the band struck up the ‘Tantum Ergo’, the whole city took part in a tremendous outpouring of praise and thanksgiving.  All Dublin, we hear, resounded to those strains.  Where it was impossible to approach any closer to the Altar, and then back for miles to the Pheonix Park, which was still emptying its thousands, a pause occurred.  Everyone was on his or her knees wherever they happened to be.  Even in precarious vantage points on roofs around me, I saw people kneeling in seemingly impossible situations.

A moment after the hymn had ceased the Cardinal Legate ascended the Altar steps.  As he took the Monstrance once more into his hands, a sharp military command broke the stillness.  Swords came to the salute, the trumpets sounding again.  Over the multitude, over the city, over all Ireland, he raised the King of kings.  It seemed as though the scattered Gaels overseas, in every clime, and under every flag, were gathered under the benison of that uplifted Host, and all were home again for that wonderful moment.  The thought is not far-fetched; to the Lord of the Eucharist space and time do not exist.

In the hush of that indescribable moment, every head in sight bent low.  The whole of the devotion of the past days seemed caught up in a mighty climax.  The thought of thanksgiving must have filled every heart: no merely personal petition filled that historic space when time
itself stood still; and fifteen centenaries of Eucharistic devotion culminated in the triumph of the Eucharist in all Ireland free once more to worship, in the face of the world, the faith of Patrick.

Wave upon wave of sound came in contrast to the preceding and almost palpable silences, the ‘Divine Praises’ welled up, clearly, distinctly, from a million and more throats.  The last one seemed to be lingeringly uttered, as the multitude became conscious that the Congress was almost over.  The mighty uprising of the concourse preceded the final ‘Adoremus’.
I, for one, have never heard the glory and the praise of that psalm and antiphon so feelingly, so triumphantly sung.  The world, which has never before witnessed anything to compare with the wonders of this day, was listening in; and I hope they profited by that final expression of thankfulness to the Almighty Father.

The Congress was over!  May its message be heard universally and its inspiring lesson be taken to heart.



 L’Osswevatore Romano   (Official Organ of the Vatican)

Every previous Eucharistic Congress has had some special note which marked it off from all its predecessors.  In one this may have been the enormous crowds, in another the glorious memories of the past which it evoked, and a third will be remembered on account of the special historical conditions under which it was held.  But during every previous Congress entire zones of life and vast phases of human activity stood apart from and remained indifferent to the manifestation of faith which the sacred event evoked.  Of course, these Congresses compelled the attention of all classes and conditions of men – but they never yet absorbed the activities of an entire people.  There were always a large number of spectators who stood aloof – now labour, now politicians or business men or journalists – always some vital stream of human effort continued to flow undisturbedly in its ordinary course.

But not so here in Ireland.  Here every sphere of life is affected by this great event – from the schools which are closed to the business houses which have given their employees a short holiday.  The newspapers from the first page to the last are full of notes and comments on the religious events.  Politics are suspended and Government administration interrupted.  The government, the Army, the University, and the County Councils and Town Councils – all bow down in adoration at the feet of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Eucharist.  Here there are no spectators – everyone from the highest to the lowest is an actor and plays his part in the great event with all the fervour and energy that is in him.  Everyone is at his post – from the Bishop to the clerical student, from the President of the State to the policeman on the street.  There are no gaps, no cleavages of thought or act between the many grades and classes which compose the State.  This central fact the whole world which has sent here its ambassadors must note.  It is really nothing short of the miraculous – for here we see, after a century and a half of attempted laicization, an entire people proud of its name, but prouder still of its Roman religion.

Le Pays (Switzerland)

It is strange the fascination this city has for the foreigner!  A feeling of loneliness takes possession of us at the prospect of leaving Dublin to visit the country.  For we have found the capital of New Ireland very beautiful, very hospitable and everywhere an atmosphere of fervour and enthusiasm.

Lonely for the city of Dublin?  Yes; we regretted leaving Dublin.  But we were lonely for the people of Dublin also; for they are kindly and hospitable and always show such courtesy – the courtesy which the Archbishop of Baltimore, of good Irish stock, called a ‘quiet, delightful courtesy’.  The English admit that in Dublin one meets with more courtesy than in any other city.


Vincent De Paul Fitzpatrick           Editor

I write these lines on board the Steamship ‘Dr Grasse’.  Across the Alexandria Basin from us lies the ‘Doric’.  Just up the dock there are two other ships, the ‘Sierra Cordoba’ and the ‘Dresden’.  Out in Dublin Bay is the Steamship ‘Lapland’ and not far off the ‘Saturnia’.  These ships brought upwards of five thousand American Pilgrims to the Congress.  Thousands of others came on other ships.

The residents of the colony represent all sections of the United States from the Atlantic to the Pacific Coast, from the Canadian Border to the Rio Grande.

Hundreds of Masses have been said on these ships in the last six days by members of the diocesan clergy and representatives of many religious Orders and societies in the priesthood.  More Masses have been said in six days in this colony than are said within such a period of time in some of the largest dioceses and archdioceses of the country back home.  For example, on the ship on which I am now typing this letter the celebration of Masses began at midnight and continued until ten o’clock this morning.  At times there were three or four Masses being said simultaneously.  Thousands of Communions have been received in the temporary ‘ocean churches’.

On the ‘Dresden’ one hundred and five priests said Masses in a day.  Solemn Pontifical Masses were said on some of the ships and sermons at one time or another were delivered by Cardinals O’Connell, Dougherty and Hayes.

The mere presentation of statistics serves to show what an important part the United States has played in this Congress, which undoubtedly will go down in history as one of the greatest of all Congresses.  The Faith of the Irish has made it so.  Never, anywhere, have we found such faith.

ETUDES  (Paris)


Whole families are crossing from England, chiefly from Lancashire or Yorkshire, even the oldest of the children who accompany them are only acquainted with the country of their origin through photographs or history.  ‘I have a cousin’, one is relating, ‘living in a little house in Francis Street, in Dublin.  There are four rooms in the house, and there will be thirty seven of us staying there during the Congress’.

Many of the priests and prelates visited these streets of the poor, friends dear to the Saviour.  One of these was His Eminence Cardinal Verdier, Archbishop of Paris; another, Monsignor Audollent, Bishop of Blois.

His Eminence Cardinal Verdier, at a meeting of the French Section, told how deeply he was moved during a visit he made to the poor quarters.  The arrival of a Cardinal in their midst was a great event for these poor people.  His eminence made a pilgrimage to the house of Matt Talbot, the Dublin labourer, who died in the odour of sanctity a few years ago.  The Cardinal’s visit to this place of pilgrimage increased his popularity.  He was conducted to the little altar so much visited by the poor.

‘There was a sort of little prie-dieu in front’, the Cardinal related.  ‘I knelt down and I may tell you, in the spot I said the best prayer of my life. 

Rev Joseph Bonbee SJ



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