Wednesday, 2 March 2016

The See of Limerick (-1207)

From Chapter XXIV of 'History of the Irish Hierarchy' by Fr. Thomas Walsh:


Was founded in the twelfth century Some attribute its foundation to Saint Munchin, the son of Sedna, but there is no certainty that he was bishop.

Ferrar in his history of Limerick could not find anything authentic until the middle of the ninth century nor could Ware or Harris discover any undoubted bishop of Limerick until Gilbert who flourished in the eleventh.

Though the Danes of Limerick had been converted to the Christian faith in the early part of the eleventh century still they did not enjoy the benefit of a resident prelate until Gilbert was unanimously chosen by clergy and people in the year 1106.

This prelate had been abbot of Bangor and probably had been consecrated before his election to Limerick was an Irishman though some assert that he was a Dane for it so appears evident from the correspondence which occurred between him and St. Anselm with whom he became acquainted in his travels on the Continent.

While Gilbert presided he exerted himself in establishing an uniform system in the liturgical practices of Ireland and for this purpose composed a treasise De usu Ecclesiastico. In this tract he assures the prelates and clergy of the Irish church that in compliance with the wishes of many of their brethren he has endeavored to point out the canonical system of saying the hours of the divine office and performing the duties of the ecclesiastical order.

Gilbert wrote another tract in which he arranges the different gradations of the highest ecclesiastical dignitaries to the humblest official of the order assigning to each their respective powers and duties Gilbert was also legate apostolic an office which he resigned in 1139 and died the year following.

Donald O Brien, king of Limerick, founded and endowed the Cathedral of Limerick and dedicated it to the Virgin Mary. In the 13th century Donatus O Brien bishop of Limerick became a great benefactor factor to this cathedral he assigned prebends to the dean and chapter and made some constitutions concerning the liturgy used in his church and the privileges of his canons. About the year 1490 the citizens of Limerick rebuilt the nave of the cathedral which had fallen to ruin.

In the twelfth century the see of Inniscathy was united to that of Limerick on the death of Aid O'Beachain, the last bishop of that see.

Gillbert, bishop of Limerick and apostolic legate of Ireland died in 1140. St. Malachy O'Moore of Armagh was appointed legate in his stead.

Patrick, bishop of Limerick succeeded in 1140 and through the influence of the Danes was sent to England where he was consecrated by Theobald, archbishop of Canterbury, to whom Patrick made the following profession of obedience: "I Patrick, elected to the government of the church of Limerick and now through the grace of God to be consecrated by thee most Rev. Father Theobald, archbishop of the holy church of Canterbury, and primate of all Britain, do promise that I will pay due subjection and canonical obedience to thee and to all thy successors who shall succeed thee canonically."

Patrick was the only bishop of Limerick and the last of the Irish prelates who made a profession of obedience to the see of Canterbury. Patrick presided but a short time.

Harold a Dane succeeded. Died in 1151.

Turgese, a Dane or Ostman sat in 1152, assisted at the council of Kells held in that year by Cardinal Paparo.

Brictius, who was also a Dane, succeeded. He was one of the Irish prelates who assisted at the council of Lateran in the years 1179 and 1180. Donald O'Brien, king of Limerick, granted the lands of Mungret and those of Ivamnach to this prelate and his successors and to the clergy of St Mary's, Limerick.

Donatus O'Brien descended of the royal family of the name succeeded about the close of the twelfth century. Illustrious by birth but more so by his learning wisdom and liberality, Donat enlarged the cathedral and supplied it with secular canons to whom he assigned prebends and laid down rules for their guidance. This prelate died in the year 1207.

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