Council of Lateran

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XVIII

In 1179 Henry gave the office of Viceroy to De Lacy, and recalled FitzAldelm. The new governor employed himself actively in erecting castles and oppressing the unfortunate Irish. Cambrensis observes, that he "amply enriched himself and his followers by oppressing others with a strong hand." Yet he seems to have had some degree of popularity, even with the native Irish, for he married a daughter of Roderic O'Connor as his second wife. This alliance, for which he had not asked permission, and his popularity, excited the jealousy of the English King, who deprived him of his office. But he was soon reinstated, although the Bishop of Shrewsbury, with the name of counsellor, was set as a spy on his actions. These events occurred A.D. 1181. De Lacy's old companion, Hervey de Montmarisco, became a monk at Canterbury, after founding the Cistercian Monastery of Dunbrody, in the county of Wexford. He died in this house, in his seventy-fifth year.

In 1179 several Irish bishops were summoned by Alexander III. to attend the third General Council of Lateran. These prelates were, St. Laurence of Dublin, O'Duffy of Tuam, O'Brien of Killaloe, Felix of Lismore, Augustine of Waterford, and Brictius of Limerick. Usher says [2] several other bishops were summoned; it is probable they were unable to leave the country, and hence their names have not been given. The real state of the Irish Church was then made known to the Holy See; no living man could have described it more accurately and truthfully than the sainted prelate who had sacrificed himself for so many years for its good. Even as the bishops passed through England, the royal jealousy sought to fetter them with new restrictions; and they were obliged to take an oath that they would not sanction any infringements on Henry's prerogatives. St. Malachy was now appointed Legate by the Pope, with jurisdiction over the five suffragans, and the possessions attached to his see were confirmed to him. As the Bull was directed to Ireland, it would appear that he returned there; but his stay was brief, and the interval was occupied in endeavouring to repress the vices of the Anglo-Norman and Welsh clergy, many of whom were doing serious injury to the Irish Church by their immoral and dissolute lives.[3]


[2] Says.—Sylloge, ep. 48.

[3] Lives.—We give authority for this statement, as it manifests how completely the Holy See was deceived in supposing that any reform was likely to be effected in Ireland by English interference: "Ita ut quodam tempore (quod dictu minim est) centum et quadraginta presby. incontinentiae convic-tos Romani miserit absolvendos."—Surius, t. vi. St. Laurence had faculties for absolving these persons, but for some reason—probably as a greater punishment—he sent them to Rome. English writers at this period also complain of the relaxed state of ecclesiastical discipline in that country. How completely all such evils were eradicated by the faithful sons of the Church, and the exertions of ecclesiastical superiors, is manifest from the fact, that no such charges could be brought against even a single priest at the time of the so-called Reformation.