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The Folly of Dagger John

A man should leave a legacy regardless of what the contemporaries think, and if that man be Irish, even better.

*The following is personal commentary and in no way represents the organizations or people affiliated with this site. I am just in a "mood."


Archbishop John Hughes came to mind this past week as we witnessed the annual abuse of all that is Irish and green and alcoholic and shamrock-y.


St. Patrick's Day has been hijacked, and violently so.


Of course, the Irish should be very angry about this, but they aren't. Apart from the handful of folks here and there, I have seen throughout the years it is just accepted. Like the annual march to Christmas, which should be Advent, and Holy Week, and Easter, they all belong to the world now. We modern Christians don't fight, and when we do, it is with each other over some ridiculous and cheap intellectual gain.


Ireland, the island, is lost. Forget France being the "eldest" daughter, for a moment. That just means she was first on the scene. Ireland was the Church's "greatest" daughter. What the Vikings, and the Normans, the Protestant English and their penal laws could not do, rampant prosperity and materialism has done.


To state it more clearly - in the face of over a thousand years of invasion, over lording, forced famine and all the rest, a few decades of fast money and being wooed by the world has absolutely destroyed this greatest daughter's Faith. Of course it could be recaptured, but it would be a great effort, and frankly speaking the Church does not seem interested in that. But, who am I to judge!?


Lucky for us, even if the island has been lost, the Irish Diaspora has already taken place. The Irish can carry on the faith in afar off and distant lands. There is a little bit of the once tremendous faith of Ireland on every continent and in nearly every country.


Enter again Archbishop John Hughes, a product of an Irish family and the Irish Famine. Commonly known as Dagger John due to his revival of using an Ecclesial Cross in his signature with his name, which had once been common practice. His contemporaries, sizing him up and having to put up with his tenacious approach to guarding his flock, often stated that the exuberant cross looked more like a dagger than just a cross.


The forth Bishop of New York, and its first Archbishop, Dagger John found success as a leader through an Irish temper and wit which culminated in his piety. He was successful because he was thoroughly apostolic.


I will leave it to you to discover more about him. Although I caution that the worldlings try to paint him as some sort of open border, anti-racist, pro-BLM activist bishop. Forget all that. He was an Irish Archbishop who built NYC's first Catholic schools, defended his flock taking the fight directly to the wolves, and worked tirelessly to lift his flock from the dregs and improve their lot.


Curiously, he has enemies on our side of the aisle as well, those with far more free time than I to spend painting him as some Americanist bishop.


I would hardly paint one as an Americanist who stated the sole ambition of Catholicism to be:


"to convert all Pagan nations, and all Protestant nations. . . . Our mission [is] to convert the world –including the inhabitants of the United States – the people of the cities, and the people of the country, . . . the Legislatures, the Senate, the Cabinet, the President, and all!" From a lecture given in 1850, The Decline of Protestantism and it's causes.



His greatest gotcha has to be his great desire to build a new St. Patrick's in the "middle of nowhere" Manhattan. Known as Dagger John's Folly, or Hughes' Folly, the current Cathedral was begun under his watch, but he died before it was completed. He held from his first day in the episcopate that Manhattan would soon be overrun and overpopulated, the greater city of New York as well. So he desired to be pastoral about the placement of his new Cathedral. He chose the woods. Approximately the middle of Manhattan island. He was chided, reviled, called a spendthrift, and laughed at even by his own.



That woods is now known to us moderns as 5th Avenue NYC.


No kidding. A beacon of faith to the faithless. Christ the King in the Center of it all, 10 blocks from Central Park and Trump Tower. Think of all those rabid materialists frequenting Saks, Nike, Legoland, and the like, those sinners at Rockefeller Center, folks on their way to to the broadway-est of Broadway Shows.


The tree lighting! The ice skating! New York, New York. The city so nice they named it twice!



All of them, they will all have to maybe, just maybe walk past. And when they do, maybe, just maybe the building will catch their eye, and on a whim inspire exploration. And maybe, just maybe, they will think of their God and repent.


I know, folly indeed.




+For my Grandfather, Michael, an Irishman with a legacy who would have turned 92 on the great Saint's feast day just past. In your charity, perhaps an Ave or two for his soul?



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