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The Irish Ecclesiastical Record, Volume 1, August 1865   By:

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THE IRISH ECCLESIASTICAL RECORD.

AUGUST, 1865.

THE SEE OF DROMORE.

The see of Dromore, though founded by St. Colman, seems for several centuries to have comprised little more than the abbey of that great saint and its immediate territory. In the synod of Rathbreasil (A. D. 1118), in which the boundaries of the various dioceses were defined, no mention is made of Dromore, and the territory subsequently belonging to it was all comprised within the limits of the see of Connor. The acts of the synod of Kells held about fifty years later, are also silent as to a bishop of Dromore; and Cencius Camerarius, compiling his list of sees in 1192, again omits all mention of this see. Nevertheless, the abbot of the monastery, "de viridi ligno", which gave name to the town of Newry, ruled this diocese with episcopal authority during the later half of the twelfth century, and a bishop of this see named Uroneca ( alias O'Rony) is mentioned in a charter of donations to the abbey of Neddrum, about the year 1190 (see Reeves' Ecclesiastical Antiquities , pag. 192).

The last episcopal abbot of this great monastery was Gerard , a Cistercian monk of Mellifont, who, in 1227, was chosen bishop, and died in 1243. A controversy then arose between the chapter of Dromore and the monastery of Newry. Each claimed the right of electing the successor to the deceased bishop; and the Archbishop of Armagh gave judgment in favour of the former. The matter being referred to Rome, all controversy was set at rest by Pope Innocent VI., who by letter of 5th March, 1244, addressed "to the dean and chapter of Dromore", confirmed the decision of the Archbishop of Armagh, and sanctioned the right of the canons of Dromore to elect the bishops of the see ( Mon. Vatic. , pag. 42). Andrew, archdeacon of Dromore, was accordingly elected bishop, and consecrated in 1245, and the episcopal succession continued uninterrupted till the latter half of the fifteenth century.

Ware, in his Bishops of this see, and Dr. Reeves, in his Ecclesiastical Antiquities of Down and Connor (pag. 308), tell us that on the death of the Carmelite bishop, David of Chirbury , in 1427, the see was held by Thomas Scrope, who resigned before 1440; that his successor, Thomas Radcliffe, also resigned before 1461; that the next bishop was George Brann, appointed about 1487; and that the see was held in 1500 by another bishop named William Egremond.

The actual succession of bishops, however, was far different. On the death of David of Chirbury, Dr. Thomas Radcliffe was chosen his successor in 1429, as the historians of the Augustinian order expressly attest. Thus, for example, Herrera writes:

"Thomas Sacrae Theologia professor a Martino V. in Registro Pontificio an. xii. Pontificatus et Christi 1429. prid. Kal. Feb. in Hibernia sub Archiepo. Armacano Epus. Dromorensis instituitur. Hic est ille quem registra ordinis die 19 Martii an. 1426. magistrum Thomam Radclef provinciae Angliae appellant eique Prior Generalis concedit ut in conventu Oxoniensi perpetuo stare possit ut eum fratribus destitutum juvet".

Elsius makes a similar statement ( Encomiast. page 662), and also tells us that there is a "Thomas Radclyf, Redcliff, sive Radcliffus, Anglus, S.T.D., in Anglia natus nobilissimâ familiâ ex qua comites Sussessiae ante an. 1369, prodierunt", who is commended in the records of the order as illustrious by his virtues and writings. "Intuitu virtutum", he adds, "Episcopalem Lincolniensem aut Leicestrensem accepit dignitates", which words acquaint us with the English see to which Dr. Radcliffe was promoted some few years after his appointment to Dromore.

As the dates of Herrera are taken from the consistorial records and other official documents, we may rest assured that 1429 was the year of Dr. Radcliffe's appointment. We cannot fix with the same certainty the year in which he renounced this see. It is probable, however, that about 1434 he was translated to the diocese of Lincoln in England, and we next meet with a Dominican Father who was also named Thomas , already in possession of the see of Dromore in 1437... Continue reading book >>




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