The annual Festival Day of Saint Oliver Plunkett will take place in Drogheda this Sunday 2 July. Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, will be chief celebrant at the Festival Mass at Saint Peter’s Church in Drogheda, the memorial church of Saint Oliver Plunkett.
The annual Festival Day begins at 3.00pm with a unique ‘hands-across-the-Boyne’ procession of the relics of Saint Oliver Plunkett from the Holy Family Church, Ballsgrove, in the Diocese of Meath, to Saint Peter’s Church, Drogheda, in the Archdiocese of Armagh.
The procession will culminate in a concelebrated Festival Mass in Saint Peter’s Church at 4.00pm. Archbishop Eamon Martin will be chief celebrant at the Mass and will preach the homily. Monsignor James Carroll, parish priest of Drogheda and custodian of the Shrine of Saint Oliver Plunkett will also be in attendance, along with members of the Saint Oliver Plunkett scout group and the Saint Oliver Group for Peace and Reconciliation. Music at the Mass will be provided by Saint Peters Male Voice Choir directed by Mr Edward Holly.
The National Celebrations in Drogheda are organised by the Knights of Saint Columbanus and it is expected that large numbers of their members from across the country will take part this year.
The 2017 Festival Day will commemorate the 97th anniversary of the beatification of Saint Oliver Plunkett by Pope Benedict XV on 23 May 1920, as well as the 42nd anniversary of his canonisation as a martyred saint by Blessed Pope Paul VI on 12 October 1975.
Each year celebrations of the life of Saint Oliver also take place at his birthplace in front of the old ruined Church at Loughcrew, Oldcastle, Co Meath. Pilgrims pray for the sick and troubled, for family and friends.
Thousands of pilgrims visit Saint Oliver’s shrine in Saint Peter’s Church, every year, to venerate his relics and to learn about the saint’s extraordinary life and ministry. They fittingly turn to Saint Oliver, who was martyred for his faith in a time of political, religious and social turmoil, to pray for his intercession concerning conflict areas at home and abroad.
Saint Oliver Plunkett was ordained Archbishop of Armagh in Ghent, Belgium, 1669. He was martyred in Tyburn, England, in 1681. Along with Saints Patrick and Malachy, Saint Oliver is a patron saint of the Archdiocese of Armagh. The Feast of Saint Oliver Plunkett is celebrated on 1 July.