Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Letter from the Bishop of Limerick to the Earl of Salisbury (R. Cecil)

Bernard Adams (1566-1625) held the position of Anglican Bishop of Limerick from 1604–1625. Educated at Trinity College, Adams was a scholar and a liberal churchman. At that time in Ireland, the official Anglican hierarchy was in competition with Catholic priests and bishops who were legion throughout Ireland. Adams' letter to Cecil, on July 22, 1609, gives a remarkably humorous insight into these conditions.

1609, July 22.
"How 'tranquillous' this country is, there [are] none but know and 'infinite' rejoice at it. What certainty may be expected of the continuance, seeing many buzzing bees, crawling out of the old beehive of treasonous conspiracies, swarm here about daily, your watchful eye can easiest discern. Yet the multitude and presumption of 'mistary' priests (who, more than ever was usual, exercise all papal jurisdiction as confidently as if Italy were in Ireland: prescribe frequent masses almost openly: insolent pilgrimages of many thousands in an assembly, and some of them armed: procure secret offerings for unknown uses: publish toleration by suggestion of warrant from his Highness: proclaim penny pardons for sundry years past and to come: proscribe his Majesty in printed pamphlets to be no Christian), are prologues, as wisest prognosticators here affirm, of some consequences, the catastrophe whereof may prove a tragedy. These things I write but out of my study, and with silence pass them over, as being a mere divine and no politician, assuring myself that whilst the religious pillars of commonwealth stand, Holy Church can never miscarry. Therefore, fearing that these suspicions by the 'understandinger' sages may be called needless carefulness, I only solicit the all-ruling power for continual peace, and for your prosperity as one of the chiefest stays of true religious maintenance and the safety of God's saints. Limerick, July 22, 1609.


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