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Archdekin, Thomas, 1721-1767, Jesuit brother

  • IE IJA J/881
  • Person
  • 25 March 1721-08 October 1767

Born: 25 March 1721, County Waterford
Entered: 14 August 1763 - Tepotzotlán, Mexico (MEX)
Died: 08 October 1767, Vera Cruz, Mexico - Mexicanae Province (MEX)

Companion of the Director of Spiritual Exercises at St Andrea, Mexico before expulsion
Arrested 25/06/1767
35 Jesuits died at Vera Cruz, Mexico between 01/08/1767 and 12/12/1767

◆ Fr John MacErlean SJ :
1767 At St Andrew’s College Mexico at the time of arrest of all Jesuits. While awaiting deportation at Vera Cruz he died.

◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973

Brother Thomas Arsdekin 1721-1767
Br Thomas Arsdekin, or Archdekin, was born in Waterford in 1721.

When 42 years of age, he joined the Society in Mexico, and was stationed at the College of St Andrew at the time of the arrest of the Jesuits in Mexico. While awaiting embarkation at the port of Vera Cruz, he died on October 8th, 1767.

Wolfe, David, 1528-1578, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/2267
  • Person
  • 1528-28 June 1578

Born:1528, Limerick, County Limerick
Entered: c 1550, St Andrea, Rome, Italy - Romanae Province (ROM)
Died: 28 June 1578, County Clare

Left Society of Jesus: 1578??

◆ Rev. Edmund Hogan SJ : “Distinguished Irishmen of the Sixteenth Century” - London : Burns and Oates, Limited, New York, Cincinnati : Chicago, Benzinger Brothers, 1894 : Quarterly Series : Volume Ninety

Father David Woulfe

It is universally acknowledged that “in the sixth and seventh centuries Ireland reached a high degree of learning and culture which were diffused by her innumerable missionaries throughout all Europe”. (1) But only those who are acquainted with the byways of Irish history are aware that in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries Ireland produced very many remarkable men of world-wide reputation. Perhaps, few Irishmen of our times know even the name of Father Richard Fleming, S.J., who was Chancellor of the University of Pont à-Mousson, and for his extraordinary ability was selected by the Society to replace the celebrated Maldonatus, as professor of theology in the College of Clermont at Paris. Fewer still have heard of the four Waddings of Waterford, all men of distinction of the same period, of the same family and of the same Order, one of whom, Peter, was Chancellor of two German Universities at one and the same time. How many, save the erudite Bishop Reeves and Cardinal Moran, know anything of Stephen White, S.J., so much praised by Ussher and many other competent judges, and styled “Polyhistor”, on account of the vastness of his erudition? It is time to put before our readers, on both sides of the Atlantic, sketches of these and other long forgotten worthies, who by their talent, labours, and virtues shed lustre on the land of their birth. I propose first of all to write of the members of the Society of Jesus; afterwards I shall give biographies of laymen, learned bishops, priests, and members of religious orders, of one of which the Bollandist De Buck significantly says: “The Order of St. Francis has produced a great number of savants and historians ; but has it produced historians more erudite than Wadding, Ward, Fleming, Colgan, and O'Sherrin, all of them Irish Franciscans?” (2)

One of the kindly influences under which Irish intellect and talent were allowed to develope them selves in the sixteenth century was the Apostolic charity of St. Ignatius of Loyola. In the year 1555 he wrote to Cardinal Pole: “There is in the German College one Englishman of good natural ability, and in our Roman College one Irishman of great promise. If your Eminence should think proper to send from those islands some talented youths to either of these Colleges, I entertain a hope that they could soon return home well equipped with learning and virtue, and with a supreme veneration for the Holy See. We have thought it our duty to make this proposal under the impulse of a great desire to be of service to the souls of those kingdoms-a desire which the Divine and Sovereign Charity has communicated to our heart”. On the feast of St. Patrick, 1604, St. Ignatius' successor, Father General Aquaviva, expressed his wish, that “by all means Irishmen should be admitted into the Society, as they seem formed for our Institute by their humility, obedience, charity, and learning, in all which, according to the testimonies that come from all quarters, the Irish very much excel”. Finally, in the year 1652, all the Fathers of the tenth General Congregation assembled at Rome unanimously decreed on the feast of St. Patrick, that every Province of the Society should undertake to have always one Irish Jesuit in training at its own expense for the distinguished Mission of Ireland. (3)

It is remarkable that the year, in which this kindlier influence radiated from the heart of St. Ignatius, was that in which war was first waged against the education of Irishmen. Father FitzSimon, S.J., in his Preface to his Treatise on the Mass, writes in the year 1611: “From about the year 1555, as is well known, these late heresies by force, never by voluntary allowance, oppressed religion in our country, banished teachers, extinguished learning, exiled to foreign countries all instruction, and forced our youth either at home to be ignorant, or abroad in poverty rather to glean ears of learning than with leisure to reap any abundance thereof. Yet such as travelled to foreign countries, notwithstanding all difficulties often attained to singular perfection and reputation of learning in sundry sciences, to principal titles of universities, to high prelacies, of whom some are yet living, some departed in peace. Seventeen years ago, Christopher Cusacke, a man of honourable descent and alliance with the noblest ranks, of great virtue, zeal, and singular sincerity, yet inexperienced in foreign countries, meanly languaged, and meanly furnished for a building to reach this height, began to assemble and maintain our young students in this place of Douay, wherein at this instant I am resident. It cannot be imagined how much since that time the obscurity of our nation's renown hath been diminished, and the glory thereof increased; how much the name of Ireland has become venerable, nay, admirable for peculiar towardness to learning, forwardness to virtue, modesty of conversation, facility to be governed, consent among themselves, and prompt ness to all that might be exacted, yea, or in reason expected, of any of most complete and conform able education or condition. Let none think that any partial affection has had place in this attestation, considering such to be the public and private letters patent and testimonies of princes, prelates, universities, cities and colleges, extant to all men's view ; so that little may rather seem affirmed than their desert duly declared. I omit to speak of other Irish seminaries in Spain of no less commendation, increase and account”. In another book Father FitzSimon thus addresses his Father General, Aquaviva : “I proclaim that I am greatly indebted to you for the immense services rendered to myself and to my country. To us you have been not only a Father General, as you are to all the members of our Society, but you have wished to be our Father Assistant by the special care you have taken of us. With what solicitude have you not rescued us from the greatest difficulties! What shelter and comfort did you not afford us when we were abandoned on every side! With what an open heart you have admitted our candidates; at what expense have you not nursed our sick and infirm, with what wholesome advice you have cheered us while we were fighting the good fight! Under your auspices, in spite of a thousand obstacles, we possess in Spain alone three seminaries, from which the waters of the faith in cessantly flow over to our kingdom and the neigh bouring islands”. (4)

I shall now proceed to lay before the reader some sketches of Irish Jesuits, who distinguished themselves in the first century of the Society of Jesus.

David Woulfe was received into the Society by its holy founder some time between the years 1541 änd 1551. He was born in Limerick, about the year 1520, in which city men of his name held the office of mayor in the sixteenth century, and from which, in 1594, “a hundred tall men went to ye North under the leadinge of David Woulfe, captaine”, to fight for Elizabeth against the formidable O'Neills. Under the leading of David Woulfe, S.J., Ireland successfully resisted the inroads of the heresy of which Elizabeth was the head. He was, says Cardinal Moran, “one of the most remarkable men who, during the first years of Elizabeth's, reign, laboured in our Irish Church to gather together the scattered stones of the sanctuary”. (5) He spent seven years in Rome, where he became a professed Father. What work he was engaged in there I have not been able to ascertain; but before the year 1560 he had been long and much employed in “evangelical expeditions”. In 1557 he was Rector of the College of Modena; in 1559 he was sent to the Valtelline to found a college there, and to perform other duties of the ministry. In 1560, Cardinal Morone, founder of the College of Modena, and Protector of Ireland, seeing that Elizabeth had declared herself in favour of the new heresy, thought it necessary that a pious and prudent man should be sent to Ireland to examine into the state of religion, to confirm laymen and ecclesiastics in the practice of piety and in obedience to the Holy See, and to preserve the Irish people in the profession of the true faith of their fathers. Father Woulfe was considered most fit for such a difficult task; he had all the necessary qualities, he knew his country and countrymen well, and had long practice and much experience in evangelical expeditions.(6) He had already settled the affairs confided to him in the Valtelline, and with Father Possevino was engaged in useful labours at Fossano, when he was called to Rome. The Pope wished to consecrate him a bishop, and send him home with the full powers of an Apostolic Nuncio. But the General, Father Laynez, requested that as a member of the Society he should not be made a bishop, and he suggested that he could thus work more freely, and would give less umbrage to the enemies of the Catholic faith. The Pope consented, but gave him plenary powers, commissioned him to examine what sees were vacant, and to recommend to His Holiness proper persons to fill them. His Superiors charged him to visit the chief Catholics of the kingdom, and specially the four principal Princes, or Lords; to visit all the bishops and the parish priests; and even to risk his life, if necessary, in the discharge of his duties for the glory of God and the salvation of souls. He left Rome on the 11th of August, 1560, with another Irish Jesuit named Edmund.. At Nantes he was taken for a Lutheran, and imprisoned and otherwise harassed for four days; at St. Malo, notwithstanding the remonstrances of his companion, he put his luggage on board a vessel, and journeyed on foot to Bordeaux, and thus his life was spared for the good of his country, as the ship with its crew and cargo was lost. Though dreadful storms were raging at that time and had wrecked many goodly vessels, in spite of the warnings of his friends he sailed from Bordeaux, and reached Cork on January 21, 1561, having been four months on his journey from Rome. When he had secretly made known the object of his mission, crowds of men and women came from all parts, even from a distance of sixty miles, to get his blessing and settle the affairs of their consciences. In accordance with the earnest wish of St. Ignatius, he selected and sent many Irish youths to Rome. In compliance with the mandate of the Pope, he sought out and recommended learned and pious priests to fill the vacant sees; and the names of Richard Creagh of Armagh, Donall MacCongail of Raphoe, Owen O’Hairt of Achonry, Morogh MacBriain of Emly, Conor O’Cervallain, and Nicholas Landes, not to mention others, are a guarantee of the fidelity with which he carried out the orders of the Holy See. He resided for the most part in his native diocese, yet visited Tirone, and Shân the Proud, Prince of Ulster, and traversed the various regions of Ulster and Connacht; but on account of the “wars” and the many dangers of falling into the hands of English agents and spies, he could not enter the precincts of the Pale, and accordingly, in 1561, he delegated his jurisdiction to Father Newman, of the archdiocese of Dublin.

In that very year, Father Woulfe's mission was mentioned by Elizabeth to the Pope's Ambassador as one of her reasons for not sending representatives to the Council of Trent. Her Majesty's priest hunters were on his track, yet he managed to visit the great Irish lords, to ascertain whether the bishops resided in their dioceses and instructed their flocks, to see how the clergy administered the sacraments, to guard the faithful against the contagion of heresy, and to bring heretical ministers back to the fold. He had been charged by the Pope to establish grammar schools, provide Catholic masters for them, and urge parents to send their children to be instructed in literature, and in the knowledge of the saving truths of faith; he was also, if possible, to establish monasteries, hospitals, and places of refuge for the poor, and he was ordered to acquaint the Holy See with the real state of the Irish Church. As Cardinal Moran writes, “the course traced out in these instructions was exactly pursued by Father Woulfe, and his letters clearly demonstrate how indefatigable he was in his labours, and how unceasingly he struggled to restore the Irish Church to its primitive comeliness and fervour”.

The monastic schools had been swept away, and no mere Irishman or Catholic could, without risking liberty or life, teach the rudiments of literature or religion. To meet this want of intellectual culture, the Holy Father, in 1564, empowered Primate Creagh and David Woulfe to erect colleges throughout the kingdom, and to found a University like those of Paris. and Louvain. For this purpose Dr. Creagh had petitioned the Holy See to send Jesuit Fathers into Ireland. (7) However, the Primate and Nuncio were not able to carry out the commands of the Pope, as the agents of England were in sharp pursuit of them. A priest hunter, named Bird, wrote to Lord Burghley: “If the surprising of Creagh and some other Romish Legates of the Irishíry, with some English Jesuits (8) lately arrived, may be an inducement to Her Majesty's gracious favours, I shall, shorten the number of these importunate members, by whom others of their sort may be disordered in England, passing and repassing to and fro”. The Primate and Father Woulfe were captured and imprisoned in Dublin Castle in the year 1567. On the 13th of March of the following year, St. Pius the Fifth wrote to his Nuncio at Madrid : “We have been informed that Our venerable brother, the Archbishop of Armagh, who, as you are aware, is Primate of Ireland, has been cast into prison in the Tower of London, and that Our beloved son David, of the Society of Jesus, is also closely confined in the City of Dublin, and that both of them are treated with the utmost severity. Their sufferings overwhelm Us with affliction, on account of their singular merit and their zeal for the Catholic faith. . . . You will therefore use every endeavour with His Catholic Majesty, and urge and request and solicit in Our name letters from him to his Ambassador and to the Queen, to obtain the liberation of these prisoners”.

The mediation of the King of Spain was without effect, as Dr. Creagh remained a prisoner for life, and Father Woulfe was confined in Dublin Castle for five years. A good deal has been said of the horrors of prison life in modern times; but what are they to life in the cells in which Dr. Creagh and Father Woulfe were buried? Father Houling S.J., in his history of the Irish martyrs of his own time, says that Dr. Creagh was kept in a very dark underground cell of Dublin Castle, into which the light of the sun never penetrated, and in which he was not allowed the light of a candle. In a letter written by Dr. Creagh from the Tower “to the Right Honourable the Lords and others of the Queen's Majesty's Privy Council”,' he thus explains why he made his escape from the Dublin prison : “Which my going away I think no man would wonder that should know well how I was dealt therein withal; first in a hole, where without candle there was no light in the world, and with candle (when I had it) it was so filled with the smoke thereof (chiefly in summer), that, had there not been a little hole in ye next door to draw in breath with my mouth set upon it, I had been soon undone. My dwelling in this Tower the first time for more than a month's space might may-chance make a strong man to wish liberty, if for his life he could ... but foregoing further rehearsal of bearing almost these eight years irons, with one of my legs (as the beholders can judge) lost by the same, of my manifold sickness, colics, ... loss of all my big teeth, save two, and daily sore rheumes and many other like miseries”....

We are not aware that Father Woulfe suffered so much in health as his friend the Primate; but that his cell was not very comfortable we may gather from the fact, that when Bishop Thomas (Leverous of Kildare) had gained access to him, he could not stand the horrible stench of the place, and went away without being able to transact any business. We learn this from a letter written from prison by David Woulfe, a copy of which was discovered by the learned Brother Foley, S.J., among the Roman transcripts of the Public Record Office. (9) Here are a few extracts from this interesting document : “James Fitzmaurice, of the House of Desmond, remains in this country and governs Munster in the fear of God. He is young, a good Catholic, and a valiant captain. He was desirous to enter a religious order, but was prevailed on to remain at home for the good of his native land. Donail Aenoc Senez (O'Connor Sligo?), a great friend of Father Woulfe, was received with much honour by the English Queen, and has returned to Dublin with great power, and has promised to use his influence with the Viceroy to procure Father Woulfe's liberation from prison. This Father has been visited in his cell by Bishop Thomas (Leverous of Kildare); but his lordship, not being able to bear the horrid stench of the place, was obliged to go away without transacting any business. The Primate is kept in irons in an underground, dark, and horrible prison, where no one is allowed to speak to him or to see him except his keeper. He has many sores on his body, and, although not over forty-four years of age, has lost all his teeth. He has been many times brought before the magistrates, but in spite of threats, torrents, and promises of great honours and dignities, he ‘looks on all things as filth, that he may gain Jesus Christ’. All men, and, most of all, his enemies, are much amazed at his extraordinary fortitude and constancy in the Catholic faith. From his boyhood he has despised the pleasures of this world, and has treated his body with great penitential severity. Many things could be said of the integrity and holy life of this great man, but it is not convenient to write them at present : they will be told in their own place and time, as they cannot be concealed, since the Lord has manifested to the world a servant of His who possesses such eminent qualities. This holy prelate, in the presence of Father Woulfe and other persons, foretold to Shân O’Neill the circumstances of his death, specifying the year, month, place, and persons. O'Neill turned the nobles of Tirone against himself by his tyrannous conduct; he was defeated at Cumloch, where he lost six hundred men; on May 9, 1561, he was again vanquished by Hugh O”Donnell, while passing a river near Fearsidmor, where he lost eight thousand men and seventy-four of the noblest and bravest men of Tirone. He then took refuge among the heretics of Scotland, and was barbarously murdered by them. O'Donnell has ravaged the country of O'Connor Sligo, to punish him, whom he claims to be his vassal, for having gone over to the Court of the English Queen”.
Father Woulfe escaped from his loathsome prison in the month of October, 1572, and, accompanied by Sir Rice Corbally and the son of James Fitzmaurice, took refuge in Spain; but before his departure he received the Protestant Bishop of Limerick into the true Church, as appears from a State Paper published some years ago by Lord Emly; it was discovered by Mr. Froude, and transcribed by Dr. Maziere Brady. It runs thus : “I, William Cahessy, priest, some time named Bishop of the diocese of Limerick, yet nothing canonically consecrated, but by the schismatical authority of Edward, King of England, schismatically preferred to the bishopric of Limerick aforesaid, wherein I confess to have offended my Creator. I renounce also, if I might have the same, the bishopric of Limerick, and the charge and administration of the said cure; also other benefits and privileges received from the said Edward, or other heretics and schismatics. And I draw unto the said Holy and Universal Church, and do bow myself unto her laws, and I embrace the Reverend Lord David Woulfe, appointed the Apostolic Messenger for all Ireland from the Most Holy Lord the Pope. And I pray and beseech that, as a lost child, he receive me again into the bosom of the holy mother the Church, and that he will absolve mne from all ecclesiastical sentences, censures, punishments, heresies, rules, and every blot, dispense with me and reconcile me again to the unity of the same Church”.

According to a letter of the filibuster, Sir Peter Carew, to the Privy Council, and another letter in the State Paper Office, “Sir Davy Wolf, an arrant traitor, fled from Dublin, is gone to Spain, and carried with him the son of James Fitzmaurice, accompanied by Sir Rice Corbally”. However, he soon returned to the former field of his labours, landed at Tarbert, and in 1575 was once more engaged in visiting and consoling the Catholics of Ireland. In that year his fellow-citizen and brother Jesuit, Edmund O'Donnell, was hanged, drawn, and quartered for the Faith. Father Woulfe was denied that great happiness, and from that year he begins to fade away from our view. He was in Ireland in 1575, 1576, 1577, and 1578, in which year also he was at Lisbon and at Paris, and seems to have returned to his native land again, as Dr. Lynch, the author of Camorensis Eversus, (10) says, “I have heard that Father Woulfe was a man of extraordinary piety, who fearlessly denounced crime whenever and wherever committed. When the whole country was embroiled in war, he took refuge in the Castle of Clonoan, on the borders of Clare and Galway; but when he heard that its occupants lived by plunder, he scrupled to take any nourishment from them, and soon after grew sick and died”. He died, probably, at the end of 1578 or the beginning of 1579, as he is not mentioned in the detailed correspondence of 1579 or afterwards, during the eventful period of the second Desmond war. The last years of the life of this extraordinary man are involved in an obscurity which I tried to penetrate a quarter of a century ago, by consulting the original documents in Rome. I failed to get at them, on account of circumstances over which neither I nor any one else had control. What a chequered life was that of this most distinguished, perhaps, of all the citizens of Limerick! He first comes into view as Rector of the Jesuit College of Modena, he establishes a College in the Valtelline, declines the dignity of Bishop, and the pomp and circumstance of a nunziatura (11) and through perils on sea and land, journeying through woods and bogs, in a loathsome prison, “through good and ill he was Ireland's still”, and amidst the distracting political issues that tore Ireland piecemeal, he sought nothing but the good of his country, provided her with prelates of the most distinguished merit, and instructed and comforted her faithful people. His is a name of which the citizens of Limerick should be proud, and which the sea-divided Gael would not willingly let die. By Stanihurst, his contemporary, he is called a distinguished divine, and is by him classed among “the learned men and authors of Ireland”. Of the Limerick Woulfes', who now “all, all are gone”, one was bailiff of that city the year Father David went to reside there as Nuncio (as he is always styled by his friend, Primate Creagh); another was mayor in the year of Father David's death; a third, “David Wolfe, gentleman, black hair, middle stature”, was transplanted by the Cromwellians in 1563; and another member of that stock was the famous General Wolfe, who died in the moment of victory at Quebec.


Contributed by
Barry, Judy

Wolfe, David (1528–c.1578), leader of the second Jesuit mission to Ireland, was born in Limerick. His command of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese strongly suggests that he was educated on the Continent, but he is first recorded as dean of the diocesan chapter in Limerick. He was received into the Society of Jesus in Rome in 1554 and resigned the deanery in June 1555. On 30 April 1558 Ignatius Loyola appointed him rector of the College of Modena. On 2 August 1560 an effort to revive the morale and discipline of the catholic church in Ireland was initiated with the appointment of Wolfe as papal commissary (the title of nuncio being withheld at the request of his superior, Diego Lainez) with instructions to establish schools, hospitals and places of refuge for the poor where possible, to reform monasteries, and to recommend suitable candidates for bishoprics and deaneries; as a corollary, Irishmen seeking preferment were prohibited from travelling to Rome without his approval. Wolfe arrived in Cork on 20 January 1561 on his way to Limerick, where he intended to establish his base, but was forced into hiding when he learned that the government had ordered his arrest. His initial report of his reception by the laity was optimistic, noting that he had dealt with over a thousand marriage dispensations in the first six months.

The clergy, however, were less responsive. A number of the bishops countered his order to abandon their concubines by challenging his authority as papal commissary and refusing him the right of visitation to their churches. His sole right to sanction visits to Rome in search of promotion was particularly resented, and as early as 12 October 1561 he found it necessary to warn Cardinal Morone (the protector of Ireland in the curia) against Irish clerics who claimed to have no knowledge of Wolfe or his authority in Ireland. Wolfe's powers of recommendation were central to the success of his mission, and the appointments of O'Crean (qv) (Elphin), O'Harte (qv) (Achonry) and MacGongail (Raphoe), all on 28 January 1562, began the process of bringing the church hierarchy in Ireland into the mainstream of Tridentine reform. In the same year, Wolfe sent his reluctant fellow townsman, Richard Creagh (qv) to Rome from which he was to return two years later as archbishop of Armagh with faculties which extended the scope of what now became their joint mission. In the meantime, Wolfe had both recruited seven new candidates for the Jesuits and sent them to various houses on the Continent and, in 1563, drawn up a religious rule of life for a group of Limerick women, who became known as ‘Menabochta' (mna bochta, poor women) and gave rise to scandalous rumours assiduously spread by his episcopal opponents.

Wolfe asked to be recalled in 1563, but the new faculties issued by Pope Paul IV in 1564 prevented Lainez from dealing with his request. Later in the year, however, Wolfe's authority lapsed as a result of the pope's death and it was decided to recall him. It is not known when news of this decision reached Wolfe, but it is clear that he was not in a position to act upon it. In October 1565, the assize judges issued a warrant for his arrest and a reward of £100 was offered for information leading to his capture. He fled across the Shannon and led the life of a penniless fugitive in the neighbourhood of Limerick, his difficulties aggravated by his reluctance to leave Ireland without repaying the substantial debts that he had incurred.

Hearing that Richard Creagh had returned to Ireland after his escape from the Tower of London, Wolfe made his way to Armagh where they met on 6 January 1567. Since Wolfe was no longer a papal commissary, Creagh made him his vicar general and commissioned him to conduct a visitation of the metropolitan sees. At a meeting of the northern bishops, Creagh also secured a condemnation of the rumours concerning Wolfe and the house for women in Limerick. Wolfe's financial circumstances and the restraints on his freedom of movement made it difficult for him to carry out his duties and he decided to ease his position by suing for a pardon from the viceroy.

Using Hugh O'Donnell (qv) as an intermediary he arranged to see the lord deputy, Sir Henry Sidney (qv), at Carrickfergus. The meeting was friendly and Sidney promised that if Wolfe came to Dublin he would arrange for a pardon to be issued. When Sidney put the matter to the Irish council in Dublin, however, the protestant bishops demanded that before a pardon was granted Wolfe should declare the pope an Antichrist and submit to the queen as supreme head of the church. Wolfe refused these terms and was committed to Dublin castle in October 1567. For a while he attended to the spiritual needs of the other prisoners, but when it became obvious to the authorities that he would not change his views he was put in solitary confinement in an underground cell.

Wolfe escaped in 1572, but it was not till September 1573 that he set sail for Portugal, accompanied, significantly, by the 7-year old son of the rebel James fitz Maurice Fitzgerald (qv), who had submitted earlier in the year. His departure was facilitated by an Irish merchant who agreed to pay his debts on condition of immediate repayment on reaching Lisbon. Lisbon proved to be a troubled refuge. The Jesuit house was unable to provide the large sum required and the Dublin merchant complained publicly of the order's bad faith. More serious were accusations by an Irish student at the University of Coimbra that Wolfe had fathered a child in Ireland, taken bribes, and secured his release from prison by swearing to obey the queen's laws. Most serious was the intervention of the Jesuit general who blocked the payment of the debt, partly to allow the student's charges to be investigated, but largely because he was made aware of the possibility that the money was to be used to buy munitions. It is likely that this was suggested by Wolfe's frame of mind, but it was grounded on the facts that he was known to be writing a book in which he intended to show the king of Spain how to conquer Ireland and that he had met the Spanish ambassador, Juan Borgia, on several occasions with a view to persuading Philip II to support fitz Maurice's son at the Jesuit college in Lisbon.

Wolfe was formally warned by the procurator for the mission in Lisbon that he must not bring disrepute to the society by involving himself in matters of war. Nonetheless, in October 1574 he left Lisbon for Madrid, hoping to persuade Philip II and the papal nuncio to advance money for fitz Maurice's projected invasion of Ireland. He returned in March 1575 to the Jesuit house at Evora, Portugal, where his openly declared intention of collecting arms for fitz Maurice was seen as wholly inappropriate for a priest. The Portuguese provincial ordered that he should be confined to the house, but with the influence of both King Philip and the pope behind him Wolfe was able to free himself and he joined fitz Maurice in Saint-Malo in the summer of 1575. He subsequently visited Spain and went on to Rome, which he left in the company of fitz Maurice in February 1577.

He is said to have left the Jesuits during this period, but as late as June 1578 the general of the order wrote that he would be ‘glad of any employment for old David Wolfe' (CSPI, 1574–85, 136). It is likely that Wolfe died shortly afterwards. He was not among those who accompanied fitz Maurice to Ireland in June 1579 and nothing further is recorded of him.

Irish Jesuit archives (Leeson St., Dublin), MacErlean transcripts; CSPI, 1509–82; CSP Rome, 1572–8; DNB; Memorials of the Irish province, S.J., i, no. 6 (1903); Proinsias Ó Fionnagáin, SJ, The Jesuit missions to Ireland in the sixteenth century (c.1970; privately published); C. Lennon, An Irish prisoner of conscience (2000); Brendan Bradshaw (ed.), ‘Father Wolfe's description of Limerick city, 1574', North Munster Antiquarian Journal (1975), 47–53

◆ George Oliver Towards Illustrating the Biography of the Scotch, English and Irish Members SJ
WOULFE, DAVID, had been Chaplain to James Maurice Desmond de Giraldinis, as I find from that nobleman’s letter, dated from St. Malo, the 31st of January, 1576. The Father had returned to Ireland.

◆ Edmund Hogan SJ, CatChrn
Rector of Modena College;
Nuncio to Ireland;

Classed by Stanihurst among “the learned men and authors of Ireland and as a distinguished divine”.

A man of great reputation for austered sincerity

Had been Chaplain to James Fitzmaurice, of Desmond de Geraldinis, as appears by a letter from that nobleman, dated St Malo 31/01/1576, expressing his gratitude to the Society for having given him the letters of aggregation to the prayers and good works of the Order, through the petition and recomendation of Fr William Good. The Father had returned to Ireland. (Oliver from Stonyhurst MSS)

Examination of Richard Creagh, Archbishop of Armagh, prisoner in the Tower of London, printed in Shirley’s original leters and papers respecting the Church in Ireland - London, Rivington, 1851 p171 :
“Touching him whome he calleth the Pope’s Nuncio, doth answer that the said Nuncio came from Rome about four years since August last past (the date is March 16th 1564/5) and hath made his continual abode all the said time in Ireland, called by name David Wolfe, born in Limerick where the examinate also was born. And further he saith that the said David Wolfe hath been about seven years abiding in Rome, and was a Jesuite there professed, and sent from the Pope by obedience into ireland, by commission to see what Bishops did their duties there, and wgat sees were void and ... having asked where the Nuncio doth commonly keep in Ireland, he saith that he doth secretly come to Limerick, and hath been this last summer in Tyrone with Shane O’Neill as he heard, and the letters that he received were delivered unto him in Limerick, in the presence of a Priest called Sir Thomas Molam”.

◆ Henry Foley - Records of the English province of The Society of Jesus Vol VII
WOLFE, or WOULFE, DAVID, Father, of Limerick (Irish); entered the Society about 1550, and died after 1578. (Hogan's list and eulogia Ibernia Ignatiana. He had been Chaplain to James Fitzmaurice, of Desmond de Geraldinis, as appears by a letter from that nobleman, dated St. Malo, January 31, 1576, expressing his gratitude to the Society for having given him letters of aggrega tion to the prayers and good works of the Order, through the petition and recommendation of Father William Good. The Father had returned to Ireland, (Oliver, from Stonyhurst M53:) Examination of Richard Creagh, Archbishop of Armagh, prisoner in the Tower, printed in Shirley's original letters and papers respecting the Church in Ireland, London, Rivington, 1851, p. 171. "Touching him whom he calleth the Pope's Nuncio, doth answer that the said Nuncio came from Rome about four years since August last past (the datc is March 16, 1564-5), and hath made his continual abode all the said time in Ireland, called by name David Wolle, born in Limerick, where the examinate also was born. And further he saith that the said David Wolfe hath been about seven years abiding in Rome, and was a Jcsuite there professed, and sent from the Pope by obedience into Ireland, by commission to see what Bishops did their duties there, and what sees were void; and ... having asked where the Nuncio doth commonly keep in Ireland, he saith that he doth secretly come to Limerick, and hath been this last summer in Tyrone with Shanç O'Ncil as he heard, and the letters that he received were delivered unto him in Limerick, in the presence of a Priest called Sir Thomas Molam.' At p. 128 of the same book are faculties granted to Father Newman, Priest, of Dublin, dated Limerick, December 7, 1563, beginning, "David Wolfe, Priest $.j., and Commissarius of Our Most Holy Lord Pius Papa IV., to the most illustrious Princes and the whole Kingdom of Ireland." He had been Rector of the College at Modena, and was once in prison. (Father Hogan's list).

◆ Memorials of the Irish Province SJ June 1902 1.6

A Brief Memoir of Father Alfred Murphy SJ - by Matthew Russell SJ

Father David Wolfe SJ

Seemingly on the Continent, about the end of the year 1578 or beginning of 1579, died Father David Wolfe, a native of Limerick. He may be looked upon as the pioneer Jesuit of the Irish Mission, having been the first member of the Society, after Fathers Brouet and Salmeron, to labour in Ireland. After having spent seven years in Rome, and been Rector of the College of Modena, he was at the instance of Pope Paul IV., who made him Apostolic Nuncio, sent by Father Lainez to Ireland, where he landed at Cork on the 20th January, 1561. On hearing of his arrival vast numbers flocked from places as much as sixty miles distant to receive his ministrations, Cardinal Moran speaks of him as “one of the most remarkable men who, during the first years of Elizabeth's reign, laboured in the Irish Church to gather together the scattered stones of the Sanctuary”. He came to Ireland with plenary powers from the Pope to examine what sees were vacant, and to recommend fitting persons to fill them. Moreover, he was charged to visit the chief Catholics of the kingdom, especially the four principal princes or lords, to visit the bishops and parish priests, to establish grammar schools, provide teachers, found, if possible, monasteries, hospitals, and places of refuge for the poor, and to inform the Holy See of the real condition of the Irish Church. He was also empowered to establish an Irish University in conjunction with the Primate. In 1567 the Primate and Father Wolfe were captured and imprisoned in the Castle of Dublin. In the following year Pope St. Pius V. wrote to his Nuncio in Madrid: “We have been informed that our venerable, brother the Archbishop of Armagh has been cast into prison .... and that our beloved son, David, of the Society of Jesus, is also closely confined in the city of Dublin, and that both of them are treated with the utmost severity. Their sufferings overwhelm us : with affliction, on account of their singular merit, and their zeal for the Catholic faith”. Father Wolfe endured the sufferings of a loathsome prison for five years, after which he made his escape to Spain, accompanied by Sir Rice Corbally. In 1575 he again returned to Ireland, where, for the three following years he laboured among his afflicted countrymen. His portrait is preserved in the Irish College at Salamanca. Father Hogan asserts that he died in the county of Clare in Ireland.