Honouring St. Oliver Plunkett
"I die most willingly. And with God’s grace, I shall give others the good example not to fear..."
The annual procession with the relics of St. Oliver Plunkett took place on Sunday in Drogheda. Led by Bishop Tom Deenihan, a reliquary containing bone of St. Oliver was carried during the procession from Holy Family Parish Ballsgrove to St. Peter's Church, Drogheda. Bishop Deenihan celebrated Mass with priests and congregations from the Arcdiocese of Armagh and the Diocese of Meath.
St. Oliver Plunkett was condemned to death on 15 June 1681 and entered the Lord's eternal light on the day of his martyrdom at Tyburn, London, July 1st 1681, aged 55.
Oliver Plunkett was archbishop of Armagh and primate of All Ireland from 1668, at a time when the country was in a state of civil and religious disorder after the interventions of Oliver Cromwell. He persevered for ten years in his effort to ameliorate this state of affairs, until the discovery of a non-existent “Popish Plot” against the English government (invented and revealed by Titus Oates, who implicated many before he was executed for his part in it) gave the authorities an excuse to act against many prominent Catholics. Plunkett was arrested in Ireland but taken to London for trial; one of his companions was saved by being appointed as Bavarian Ambassador to London and therefore acquiring diplomatic immunity, but for Plunkett there was no such escape, and he was hanged at Tyburn, cheating his executioners by dying before he could be ceremonially disembowelled.
His remains are preserved at Downside Abbey, together with such other relics as the notes for his defence at his trial; on the occasion of his canonization in 1975 his casket was opened and some parts of his body given to St. Peter's Church, Drogheda in Ireland.