Archbishop of Armagh, Ireland, b. at Coalisland, Co. Tyrone, in 1806; d. at Armagh, April 29, 1866
Dixon, JOSEPH, Archbishop of Armagh, Ireland, b. at Coalisland, Co. Tyrone, in 1806; d. at Armagh, April 29, 1866. Having entered Maynooth College at the age of sixteen he was ordained priest in 1829. In 1834 he was appointed to the chair of Sacred Scripture and Hebrew, a post he worthily occupied for the next eighteen years. His class had an average of 200 students, amongst whom was John McEvilly, afterwards Archbishop of Tuam and a distinguished writer on Scriptural subjects. Dr. Dixon’s professorship was signalized by his “introduction to the Sacred Scriptures”, a work highly praised by Cardinal Wiseman and which was very much needed at the time. The first edition appeared in 1852 and a second in 1875. As Primate of Armagh he held an important synod in 1854, at which all the bishops of the northern province assisted with their theologians. In the same year he began the heavy task of completing the unfinished cathedral of Armagh and almost accomplished the work before his death. In 1856 he formed the diocesan chapter consisting of thirteen members. During his incumbency he brought some religious congregations into the diocese, viz. the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul (1855), who opened a house in Drogheda; the Marist Fathers (1861) who opened a college and novitiate in Dundalk, and the Vincentian Fathers who were placed in charge of the ecclesiastical seminary the same year. The primate was a stanch and fearless defender of the rights of the Holy See and at a public meeting in Drogheda denounced Napoleon III for complicity in the acts of the Italian revolutionists. His speech and subsequent letter to the “Freeman’s Journal” created a great sensation and the emperor made them a subject of complaint to Pius IX. The primate was the organizer of the Irish Brigade in the papal service.