Pew Sheet – 30th January 2022

The Rector writes  ‘It was so lovely to see you all last week, sitting where you liked, chatting to each other… and most of all it was wonderful to HEAR you singing! …  even with the Masks on!

I completely forgot not to sing too loud in St Mary’s and with my Mic on I managed to drown you all out! Sorry!  I’ll try and make sure to stand further back this week!  As of today, we are back to just two Services again. St John’s people preferred to go back to 9:30am and the 11am remains as is (this 11am Service will continue to be live-streamed)  At the end of each Service I will process out to the Church door and so will have a chance to chat to you all again.  I had really missed that over the last two years. As for Holy Communion Services, we will go back to coming up to the Altar to receive (and in St Mary’s the Live-Stream will not broadcast during that period of time).  Unfortunately we still won’t be able to receive in both kinds nor will we be physically shaking hands at the Peace for a while yet (The House of Bishops will rule on that soon) but I give thanks for all we can do and I try not dwell on the few remaining restrictions.’  

Random Notes CDXI

Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, also known as the Vatican Pimpernel, was personally responsible for saving over 6,500 Jews as well as American and British servicemen during his time in Rome during World War 2.

Born in Kiskeam, Co Cork and raised in Killarney, to say he was an overachiever would be an understatement.

He had an early vocation for the priesthood and travelled to Rome in 1922. There he completed a degree in theology in just one year, and went on to earn doctorates in divinity, canon law and philosophy. He was also an exceptional and keen over golfer, his father being steward of Killarney Golf Club.

After four years as a skilled diplomat for The Vatican, O’Flaherty returned to Rome to serve in the Holy Office. His golfing skills, playing with Mussolini’s son-in-law and the ex-king Alfonso of Spain, helped him to build a high social standing in Rome. This would serve him well later in World War 2.

In 1943, under the leadership of the Roman Chief of Police, Obersturmbannführer Herbert Kappler, two thousand Jews were rounded up and deported to Auschwitz.

Almost all of them died. At the same time Kappler demanded 50kg of gold from Rome’s Jewish community, as a ransom against further deportations. In 1944, Kappler organised the Ardeatine Massacre, killing 335 Italians as a reprisal for a resistance attack on the SS Police garrison in Rome.

During this time the Vatican was technically neutral. This did not prevent O’Flaherty and his colleagues and friends setting up an escape network for Allied servicemen. It was this same network that was used to assist Jews with fleeing occupied Rome and going into hiding. O’Flaherty’s social connections greatly aided him in this endeavour.  He was also a master of disguise, allowing him to leave Vatican neutral territory without being caught by Kappler.

When the Allies arrived in Rome in June 1944, 6,425 of the Allied escapees were still alive. O’Flaherty demanded that German prisoners be treated properly as well.

Over 8,500 Jews had been hidden, over 5,000 of them by the Church ? 300 in Castel Gandolfo, 200 or 400 as “members” of the Palatine Guard and some 1,500 in monasteries, convents and colleges. The remaining 3,700 were hidden in private homes.

After the liberation of Rome, Herbert Kappler was captured, tried and imprisoned for life for his crimes. While in prison, Hugh O’Flaherty started to visit him and the two would discuss literature and religion. Kappler eventually converted to Roman Catholicism under O’Flaherty’s guidance.

Hugh O’Flaherty died in 1963 and Herbert Kappler died in 1978. Monsignor O’Flaherty was awarded a CBE by the UK and the Medal of Freedom by the USA. He received further awards from Canada and Australia. To this day, Monsignor O’Flaherty has gone largely  unrecognised in Ireland, and is not well known here. There is now a memorial to him in Killarney. A movie called The Scarlet and The Black, starring Gregory Peck and Christopher Plummer, was made for TV in 1983.


Categories Parish Notices | Tags: | Posted on January 31, 2022

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