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A history of Reek Sunday

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In 1432, Pope Eugene IV issued a document that lay in obscurity deep within the Vatican vaults for centuries. When the doors of the archives and library of the Holy See were thrown open during the papacy of Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903), the British government sent a team of historians to transcribe everything they could find relating to Ireland. As a result of that investigative trawl, the well-known historian William Henry Grattan Flood presented Dr John Healy, Archbishop of Tuam, with a medieval document that detailed Rome’s official 15th century stance regarding the Croagh Patrick pilgrimage. The document, dated 27 September 1432, states, “Pope Eugene IV grants to the Archbishop of Tuam [at the time Seán Mac Feorais, aka John de Bermingham] an indulgence of two years and two quarantines [one quarantine was a penance of 40 days], on the usual conditions, for those penitents who visit and give alms toward the repair of the fabric of the chapel of St Patrick on the mountain which is called Croagh Patrick: this indulgence to be gained on the Sunday preceding the Feast of St Peter’s Chains [August 1]: because on that day a great multitude resorts thither to venerate St Patrick in the said chapel.” Archbishop Healy revived the old tradition of pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick and built the present church on its summit in 1905. But the history of the pilgrimage goes back further than the 1400s.

 

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