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Michael John Brenan

Ecclesiastical historian (1780-1847)

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Brenan, MICHAEL JOHN, ecclesiastical historian, b. in Kilkenny, Ireland, in 1780; d. at Dublin, February, 1847. He was the son of a stonemason and after his ordination to the priesthood, speedily obtained reputation as a preacher, but, owing to his vanity and pride, came into collision with his bishop, and was suspended. He then left the Church, became a Protestant, and was taken up by the Priests’ Protection Society under whose auspices he was announced to preach in St. George’s Church, Dublin. In the meantime he reconsidered his position and repented of his folly. He resolved to make public reparation for his fault, and on the Sunday in 1809, when he was announced to commence his campaign against the Church, he ascended the pulpit of St. George’s, began by blessing himself most reverently, and then to the relief of his audience took up the Bible, and said “This is the Word of God“. After a brief pause, he added deliberately and earnestly, “And I swear by its contents that every word I have uttered against the Catholic Church is a lie”, and at once left the building. He went to a neighboring Capuchin friary, explained what had happened, and begged to be admitted into the order. After some time, his prayers were granted, and he became a Franciscan at Wexford where in later years he wrote (as a penance, it is said) his valuable “Ecclesiastical History of Ireland” (2 vols., Dublin, 1840, revised ed., 1864).

D. J. O’DONOGHUE.


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