The Irish embassy to the Holy See and the Teutonic (German) College in the Vatican came together over the weekend to honour the memory of an Irish priest who saved thousands of Jewish lives during the Second World War.
Until quite recently, the name of Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty was not well known in his native Ireland, though a film was made in the 1980s about his adventurous life, entitled ‘The Scarlet and the Black’. On Sunday however, members of the Hugh O’Flaherty memorial society joined Irish ambassador Emma Madigan in the church of the German College for the unveiling of a plaque recalling his diplomatic skills and his vital contribution to the resistance movement.
The Vatican ceremony followed on from a seminar last Saturday with two contemporary Irish missionaries celebrating O’Flaherty’s lasting legacy of charity, courage and compassion.
Ambassador Madigan talked to Philippa Hitchen on Vatican Radio about the significance of celebrating the memory of Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty in this Jubilee Year of Mercy.
Ambassador Madigan said that before she took up her post she did not know much about Mgr O’Flaherty but shortly after coming to Rome she met members of the memorial society who were visiting the sights connected with his life. This group, she says, has done much to keep his legacy alive, putting up a statue in Killarney, where he spent much of his time and instituting an annual humanitarian award in his name.
The Irish ambassador says it is “so important” to be celebrating this legacy in the year of mercy because he showed those characteristics of charity, compassion and generosity of spirit.
She says she wanted to give this commemoration “contemporary relevance” by inviting two modern missionaries to talk about their experiences of helping vulnerable people in times of conflict. In this way, she says, we are also “celebrating the Irish missionary tradition which we’re rightly proud of” in Ireland today.
Source: Vatican Radio