Blessed Thaddeus MacCarthy

Author: Rev. Clifford Stevens


Feast: October 25

Thaddeus MacCarthy was a bishop who never ruled his see, even though he was appointed to two of them. He lived in a time when Ireland was in turmoil, when clans were warring against one another, and when dynastic jealousies disturbed the peace of the Church.

He belonged to the royal clan of the MacCarthys in Munster. His father was the lord of Muskerry and his mother was the daughter of the lord of Kerry. He studied under the Franciscans at Kilcrea and then went abroad for further study. In 1482, he purportedly was appointed bishop of Ross by Pope Sixtus IV, but politics intervened and he never took possession of his see.

In 1485, Henry VII became king of England, Ireland, and Scotland, and his party wanted to have its own representative as bishop of Ross. The temporalities of the see were seized, and Blessed Thaddeus MacCarthy was declared an intruder. The case was brought to Rome, and the rival claimant, Hugh O'Driscoll, was given the see. Thaddeus, however, was appointed bishop of the united dioceses of Cork and Cloyne, which had no bishop.

When he arrived back in Ireland, he found his cathedral occupied and someone else claiming his bishopric. Thaddeus returned to Rome to appeal to the pope, and this time the pontiff defended his rights and sent him with papers to the lord deputy of Ireland to assist the bishop in securing his see. Fearing danger to his life from his enemies, Thaddeus set out for Ireland as a pilgrim, stopping at the famous monastery of St. Bernard's at the foot of the Alps. The next morning he was found dead in his bed.

When news of the death of the bishop traveling in disguise spread, crowds flocked to the cathedral of Ivrea for his funeral. His tomb became a local shrine, and in 1895 the Holy See recognized Thaddeus as Blessed. His feast is kept in the dioceses of Ross, Cork, and Cloyne, and in Ivrea, where he was buried.

Thought for the Day: Sometimes what we look upon as failure is success in God's eyes. Blessed Thaddeus never was able to do his work as a bishop, and everything seemed to go against him. But in the midst of that failure, he was a success in God's eyes. We cannot always control outward circumstances, but we can live our lives for God.

From 'The Catholic One Year Bible': . . . Preach the Word of God . . . at all times, whenever you get the chance, in season and out, when it is convenient and when it is not. Correct . . . your people when they need it, . . . encourage them to do right, . . .—2 Timothy 4:2

(Taken "The One Year Book of Saints" by Rev. Clifford Stevens, Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., Huntington, IN 46750.)