As he prepares to travel to ”beautiful Ireland” as Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Charles Brown of Aquileia has paid tribute to the country’s legacy of missionaries.
Delivering a homily at St Patrick’s Augustinian Church in Rome last weekend, the newly ordained archbishop recalled the enduring impact of Irish missionaries around the world, not least in his own United States.
”The flame of faith has been kept alive,” the archbishop said, ”not only in Ireland but it has been spread throughout the world by countless Irish missionaries and not only by them but also by simple Irish people who brought the faith to America and, in a certain sense, gave my ancestors their faith.”
Dr Brown went on to share a memory of travelling to India and finding, to his surprise, the Catholic cathedral in the southern city of Pune was named in honour of the Irish patron.
That particular St Patrick’s cathedral, the archbishop later learned, had been constructed by Irishmen serving in the British army of the 19th Century.
”As you know, I go now to the beautiful island of Ireland as the Pope’s representative,” he told the congregation.
”I haven’t been to Ireland for a long time but I look forward to going there [and] doing my best to be the Pope’s representative there in humility.”
St Patrick’s Church in Rome has been a focal point for both the Irish community and visiting Irish pilgrims since it was established in 1888.