People from across the country braved a three-day pilgrimage in honour of St Oliver Plunkett this week, which culminated in the unveiling of a statue of the martyred saint.
A Mass dedicated to the annual procession of the holy relics of St Oliver, as well as commemorating the 350th anniversary of his appointment as Archbishop of Armagh, took place before 100 pilgrims began their 100km trek.
Archbishop Eamon Martin celebrated the Mass on Sunday in St Peter’s Church in Drogheda, Co. Louth, opening a triduum of prayer across the Archdiocese of Armagh.
The statue of St Oliver was unveiled on Tuesday evening. It was commissioned by Archbishop Martin and cast in bronze by Dublin-sculptor Dony McManus.
The seven-foot high statue depicts St Oliver in the final moments of his earthly life.
The saint is in Ecce Homo pose with his hands bound behind his back.
Last November on ‘Red Wednesday’, in the context of commemorating those who have been persecuted in the name of Christianity, Archbishop Martin signalled his intention to honour martyrs of the past, present and future by erecting a statue in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh.
St Oliver was the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland. He maintained his duties in Ireland in the face of persecution and was eventually arrested and tried for treason in London.
He was hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn on July 1, 1681, and became the last Catholic martyr to die in England. Oliver Plunkett was beatified in 1920 and canonised by St Pope Paul VI in 1975, and became the first new Irish saint for almost 700 years.