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Patrick Francis Moran: the making of a scholar.

Patrick Moran was ordained to the priesthood on 19 March 1853 by Archbishop Antonio Luigi Bussi. This was by papal dispensation, as he was one-and-a-half years under the canonical age of twenty-four. He had been living in Rome since the age of twelve, from late 1842, when as an orphan he had been brought there by his uncle Paul Cullen, rector of the Irish College. No diary entries of Moran's survive before 1850, but the important details of his academic career are clear. In 1843, 1844 and 1845 Cullen would have assigned people at the Irish College to attend to his instruction. In November of 1845 he began a course in philosophy and mathematics at the Collegio Romano, a Jesuit institution. (1) The Irish College had its own courses and came under the wing of the Congregation of Propaganda. Moran's studies in philosophy and mathematics occupied three years. His teachers at the Collegio Romano included Francescoe de Vico, professor of astronomy and mathematics, who discovered a number of comets including six of the telescopic variety (comets that never become visible to the naked eye), and Benedict Sestini, professor of astronomy and mathematics who in 1847 completed the first systematic survey and catalogue of the heavens for star-colours, but whose real passion was pure mathematics. The professors of philosophy were Italian, German and Spanish Jesuits. Students came here from all over the world.

On 8 January 1846 Cullen wrote to his nephew Hugh, 'Your cousin, P. Moran, is now an excellent Italian and Latin scholar. He speaks Italian and Latin as well as any man in Rome.' Fluency in Latin was vital; it was regularly used by any visiting ecclesiastics who did not have good Italian, and it was the language in which most of the lectures were delivered at international institutions like Propaganda College. Moran had a facility for languages and would soon be proficient in eight: English, Italian, French, German, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and Gaelic.

Moran's courses in philosophy and mathematics at the Collegio Romano were completed by mid-1848 and he then embarked on four years of theology at Propaganda College (the Collegio Urbano) where there were a hundred students from over thirty nations. It is probably idle to try to discern any particular line adopted by the professors either in philosophy or theology. In late 1846 to early 1947 John Henry Newman had taken up residence at Propaganda College and was warned by a Jesuit there what to expect or not expect:
 It arose from our talking of the Greek studies of the Propaganda
 and asking whether the youths learned Aristotle. 'O no--he
 said--Aristotle is in no favor here--no, not in Rome: not St
 Thomas. I have read Aristotle and St Thos, and owe a great deal to
 them, but they are out of favor here and throughout Italy. St
 Thomas is a great saint--people don't dare to speak against
 him-they profess to reverence him, but put him aside.' I asked what
 philosophy they did adopt. He said none. 'Odds and ends--whatever
 seems to them best--like St Clement's Stromata. They have no
 philosophy. Facts are the great things, and nothing else. Exegesis,
 but not doctrine.' He went on to say that many privately were sorry
 for this, many Jesuits, he said; but no one dared oppose the
 fashion. When I said I thought that there was a latent power in
 Rome which would stop the evil, and that the Pope introduced
 Aristotle and St Thos into the Church, and the Pope was bound to
 maintain them, he shrugged his shoulders and said the Pope could do
 nothing if people would not obey him, and that the Romans were a
 giddy people, not like the English. (2)


The theology lectures Newman attended presumably confirmed this.

During Moran's time there he won gold medals and was twice selected to expound and defend Catholic teachings before an audience of cardinals. In late August 1851 the English Catholic magazine The Tablet published a report on the first of these public defences, sent by a Roman correspondent:
 On 18 August 1851 a very interesting literary display took place in
 the halls of the college of Propaganda. It consisted of a public
 defence of the theological tract on the Most Holy Trinity. The
 defendant was a student of the Irish College, Mr Patrick Moran, a
 young gentleman from Leighlinbridge, Co. Carlow, and nephew of the
 lord primate. The programme of the defence consisted of eighty-four
 theses which, commencing with an explanation of the true notion of
 this sublime mystery, developed gradually the heads of doctrine and
 the arguments in connection with it which the scriptures and the
 works of the ante-Nicene Fathers supply in such rich abundance.
 Cardinals Fransoni, Castracane, Amati, Simonetti and Riario Sforza
 were present. The objectors were Right Rev. Dr Grant, bishop of
 Southwark, and Very Rev. Father Giovanni Perrone, S.J., the
 celebrated professor of theology in the Roman college. (3)


In the following year, 1852, Moran's Acta Publica in universal theology, which took the form of a defence of the Church's teachings in regard to infidelity and heresy, was so impressive that he was granted his doctorate by acclamation (not by examination of a thesis).

Following his ordination in March 1853 Moran took a holiday in Ireland, (4) relatively uneventful except for his meeting with the great Eugene O'Curry, recalled in an address in Sydney thirty years later:
 In 1853 [O'Curry] was employed under the Brehon Law Commission to
 transcribe and translate those ancient Laws. It was towards the
 close of that year that I was introduced to him in the little room
 at Trinity College, where he and [John] O'Donovan were busily
 engaged making transcripts of the oldest texts of the Brehon Laws.
 I was a very young priest and, unfortunately, quite a stranger as
 yet to Irish history, whilst he was the very foremost of living
 Celtic scholars and palaeographers. Nevertheless, he was unassuming
 as a child, and most kind and considerate in answering the
 questions which my curiosity and inexperience proposed to him. He
 was full of enthusiasm whilst explaining the relative value of the
 ancient MSS. piled up before him, but his voice became slow and
 mournful when he spoke of the prevalent neglect of Celtic studies
 and the sad indifference of so many to the genuine history of
 Ireland. (5)


This memorable introduction to Irish palaeography had profound consequences for Moran.

He was already regarded among those who knew him in Rome as scholarly. His diary entry for November 1854 is of particular importance as revealing his role in the definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception that Mary, by special grace, was preserved free from all stain of original sin at the moment of conception in her mother's womb. This dogma was about to be issued by Pius IX as the bull Ineffabilis Deus on 8 December. A commission had been appointed to make the necessary preparations for the dogmatical decision, and this commission had thought it expedient to request the scholarly Fr Carlo Passaglia, a professor of dogmatic theology, to produce for insertion into the Bull a document which would be (in Moran's words) 'an elaborate and as far as possible complete exposition of the doctrinal grounds on which the Catholic doctrine rested'--that is, a scholarly justification for the bull. Passaglia's document was around fifty pages long and contained over a hundred references to the early Fathers. On 16 November the complete bull, substantially Passaglia's work, was given to Moran's uncle, Paul Cullen, to read through. Cullen was now archbishop of Dublin and was visiting Rome at this time. Scholarship on the early Fathers was not Cullen's forte and he passed it to Moran, who two days later wrote in his diary:
 Examine these various references to the works of the Fathers: find
 many of them erroneous: some too made to spurious works: and the
 same sermon is cited at one time (pag. 4. not. 2.) as
 Pseudo-Augustine, at another (pag. 9. not. 2.) as of S. Fulgentius.


The next day Cullen, visiting Alessandro Barnabo, Secretary of Propaganda,
 asks him if it would be displeasing to the H[oly] F[ather] did the
 Bishops make any difficulties in regard of the manner in which the
 Bull had been drawn up. Monsig. B[arnabo] answers that nothing
 would please the H. F. more: that he was anxious the Bishops should
 have a part in preparing the Bull; and had invited them especially
 to deliberate on the manner of proposing the doctrine to the
 faithful.


Moran kept these entries from his 1854 diary because they reveal his elimination of error from the dogmatic definition of the Immaculate Conception. For a 24-year-old with a dawning interest in scholarly endeavours this augured well. (6) Jesus had promised his disciples that the Holy Ghost, whom he would send to them, would lead them into all truth. If that was true, then, given that the definition was to be dogmatically binding, here was Moran under direct inspiration, perhaps.

From Dublin Cullen proceeded to encourage his nephew's research interests. Knowing Moran had some time on his hands, Cullen in early 1854 asked Tobias Kirby, who had replaced Cullen as rector of the Irish College, to press Moran to undertake a study of the Irish saints as 'We know nothing about them'. (7) Moran's researches into early Irish ecclesiastical history, an unploughed field, meant locating and carefully transcribing the ancient manuscripts, many half-forgotten, and that meant developing a proficiency in palaeography and the Irish language. This research was inspired partly by the presence in Rome of the greatest palaeographer of that time, Angelo Cardinal Mai, whose work on palimpsests had brought to light previously unknown passages from the writings of over 350 authors, pre-eminently the De republica of Cicero. It was also inspired by the example of Eugene O'Curry. Moran's researches became more intense from 1859, establishing his name amongst that small group of scholars in the Irish Archaeological Society and the Celtic Society who were pioneering early Irish studies.

Meanwhile he was appointed vice-rector of the Irish College on the departure of his predecessor Dr Bernard Smith, who had joined the Benedictines of Monte Cassino, and with whom Moran had earlier fallen out. (8) In 1856 Moran had broken the ice:
 A note from me will perhaps surprize you, but I am unwilling that
 that misunderstanding should continue, which I am sorry has so long
 seemed to exist between us.

 I have ever been fully conscious of the many kindnesses which I
 received from you when a student, and nothing will prevent my being
 ever grateful for them. It is not through any desire of mine that I
 have remained in this College: far different indeed is the mission
 which alone I have aspired to from my infancy, & which to this day
 would be more congenial to the impulse of my soul. But when it
 seemed to be the will of God that I should remain here, I obeyed.
 As to any offence which I may have given you when carried away by
 my nat. & perhaps too often excessive ardour in dispute I am sure
 you will pardon and forgive me. I hope then that this
 misunderstanding will cease, and as for my part I have already
 forgotten every thing which could in any way disturb our mutual
 friendship.

 I remain with sincere esteem your much obliged & obedient servt
 PFM. (9)


By the 'mission which alone I have aspired to from my infancy' he probably meant the normal pastoral activities of a parish priest. However, that would have to wait.

According to Moran's diary he was 'Presented by Dr Kirby to Card. Barnabo as Vice-Rettore' on 17 August 1856. (10) Barnabo was Prefect of Propaganda. It was an auspicious time to be appointed, as a month later, at the prize-giving at Propaganda College, Moran noted the many prizes taken by the Irish students and the fact that they took all four medals in Hebrew, tutored probably by himself. Three days later the pope invited six students from the Irish College to dine with him, and on 3 November the following year the secretary of Propaganda, Mgr Bedini, appointed Moran Professor of Hebrew and Scripture at Propaganda College. Obviously Moran had a working knowledge of biblical Greek by this time. He started teaching two days later. (11) Having just come from a retreat he jotted down his reflections:
 How happy and thankful I should be that God has placed it in my
 power to be ever united with him, and to do all for his honour and
 glory. I should be also thankful that some trials are strewed in my
 path--What matters it to be despised by man, if we give joy to
 Heaven and are loved by God--How many persons in the world have far
 more trials, and yet are ever meek and patient. (12)


Unfortunately he does not specify the nature of his current trials. Who despised him, and why? Did he have enemies? He recorded reflections as well as events but seldom poured his troubles into his diaries.

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In May of 1859 his researches into the early Irish ecclesiastical and political records, soundly based in a knowledge of palaeography and the Irish language, were given an immense boost when Cardinal Cullen, then in Rome, gained him unrestricted access to the most important archives. On 2 May, during an audience with the Pope (as Moran noted), 'Cullen procured an order from the H. Father to have all the codices connected with the Irish Church, from the Vatican, Propaganda and the Brivi' made available for examination. This order took a month to effect. The codices and other papers were apparently handed over to Moran to work on in his own rooms at the Irish College, a great privilege. This is the logical interpretation of diary entries in which he reports Augustin Theiner 'promising to give me the papers on our Irish affairs from the Vatican Archives' where Theiner was Prefect, and Cardinal Barnabo, Prefect of Propaganda, giving full permission for all the papers of the Archives. (13) Moran's work on these materials would feed into his early publications: the Memoirs of the Most Rev. Oliver Plunket, Archbishop of Armagh, and Primate of All Ireland, Who Suffered Death for the Catholic Faith in the Year 1681. Compiled from original documents (James Duffy, Dublin, 1861); the Historical Sketch of the Persecutions Suffered by the Catholics of Ireland under the Rule of Cromwell and the Puritans (James Duffy, Dublin, 1862); the Essays on the Origin, Doctrines, and Discipline of the Early Irish Church (James Duffy, Dublin, 1864) and the History of the Catholic Archbishops of Dublin, Since the Reformation (James Duffy, Dublin, 1864), of which only the first volume appeared.

A visitor to Rome around this time happened to be invited to the Irish College where he watched Moran address the white-robed alumni and an aristocratic group of English visitors. Twenty-five years later he recalled the effect this had on him:
 In his voice were re-echoed sounds reminiscent of the Irish soil,
 but his bronzed face told that Italy had claimed him as her own for
 years. The sacred tranquility of the moment was reflected in the
 repose of his manner; and the growing darkness was figured by the
 sombre expression which deep thought and study had wrought upon his
 features.


Though unprepossessing to look at, there was in Moran something singularly striking; there was even to some persons something strongly attractive. (14)

Moran's scholarly interests developed strongly over the following months and years and went with a surprisingly liberal attitude to the literary world. In early 1862 Dr Manning told him he was soliciting Cardinal Barnabo to have the Rambler put on the Index. 'I hope this will not be done', Moran noted. 'Ad quid? A periodical sometimes has bad articles, sometimes good. It would be better to combat it by a good rival than to draw attention to it by cursing it." (15) His happiest milieu was the company of scholars. One of these was Augustin Theiner, already mentioned. Theiner was a theologian and historian from Breslau who had been appointed prefect of the Vatican archives by Pius IX. A liberal, Theiner would later assist those opposed to the defining of Papal Infallibility at the Vatican Council in 1870. He would die outside the Church. In 1862 he had just completed the second volume of his Codex Diplomaticus and was hesitating to embark on the relevant Irish documents. Moran was able to assure him they were not as numerous as had been hitherto supposed, for by now he was familiar with most of the Irish documents in the Roman archives.

His first substantial monograph, the Memoirs of the Most Rev. Oliver Plunket, Archbishop of Armagh, and Primate of All Ireland, Who Suffered Death for the Catholic Faith in the Year 1681, appeared in Dublin in 1861. Plunkett (the more common spelling) had been executed by the English during the Popish Plot scare. The title is misleading: this is not Moran's edition of Plunkett's memoirs but his biography of Plunkett. It is compiled from a vast range of letters and other seventeenth-century documents, most of them never before published, and dedicated by the author (in the third person) to Cullen, the first patron and encourager of his studies. Moran explains his procedure in the Preface: 'As the annals of our Church in the seventeenth century are very imperfect, I have inserted in these Memoirs as many original documents as possible, trusting that they may throw light upon several points of the interesting history of that period, even though they interrupt the narration.' Most of the documents in the book were transcribed from Roman archives, and Theiner is prominently thanked. A sixty-odd pages introductory chapter catalogues the atrocities committed on the Irish by Cromwell's Puritan soldiers, and the biography that follows runs to a further 404 pages of fine print. The book reflects immense archival research, and Moran's procedure of packing it with documents ensures its permanent value. It was consciously designed to strengthen the case for Plunkett's beatification.

When the great Irish scholar Dr James H. Todd visited Rome for a few months in the first half of 1862 Moran was able to guide him to the manuscripts he wished to examine. Twenty-five years Moran's senior, Todd was famous as the librarian of Trinity College, Dublin. He had put that library's manuscript collection into order and expanded it to the point that it was now of European significance. A Protestant, Todd was President of the Royal Irish Academy and founder of the Irish Archaeological Society. He was particularly interested in making or procuring transcripts of Irish manuscripts held in continental collections.

It is instructive to follow Todd and Moran around the Roman archives. Todd first called on Moran on 21 March but he was out. Two days later Moran repaid the visit and they had a long conversation about manuscripts. Todd had been delighted with his reception in Rome. He had just found that the manuscript Liber Hymnorum, the Irish Book of Hymns, held at St Isidore's, had numerous glosses that were not in the Dublin manuscript which he had been using as copy-text for his edition of the work. He had published the first instalment of this in 1855 and was now working on the second. Todd was also keen to find 1. Diary entry for 31 October 1874: 'Dr Croke, Bishop of Auckland, came to stop with me for a few days. We were old friends as students in the Irish College, Rome. He left Rome in Nov. 1847. I was then commencing my 3rd year's Philosophy.' Moran Diaries, Moran Papers (MP), Sydney Archdiocesan Archives (SAA).

2. Newman to J. D. Dalgairns, 22 November 1846, The Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman, ed. Charles Stephen Dessain, Thomas Nelson & Sons Ltd, London, 1961, XI, 279.

3. The Tablet, 30 August 1851.

4. See the entry for 18 February 1871, Moran Diaries, Moran Papers, Sydney Archdiocesan Archives (SAA). Also Moran to Kirby, 7 June 1853 from Dublin, and 11 October 1853 from Liverpool on the way back to Rome. New Kirby Papers, Irish College, Rome, Archives (ICRA).

5. Moran, The Fruits of Self-Culture: Address delivered by the Archbishop of Sydney, at a Special Meeting of the Catholic Young Men's Association, in the Sacred Heart Hall, Sydney, 1st December, 1884, O'Hara & Johnson, Sydney, n.d. [1885], p. 27. This was reprinted as Industry and Self-Culture (Browne & Nolan, Dublin, 1885) after Moran delivered it to the Kilkenny Catholic Young Men's Society that year.

6. Entries for 16, 18, 19 November 1854, Moran Diaries, MP, SAA. Passaglia was an interesting man. In 1861 he published Pro causa italica in support of the movement for Italian unity, and it was put on the Index of Prohibited Books. He fled to Turin. For liberal intellectuals, inclusion of a book on the Index made it a 'must read'. Moran, as I show in my biography, thought the Index a dubious institution.

7. Cullen to Kirby, 16 January 1854, Kirby Papers, ICRA. The Lenten Pastoral (written, according to Moran's diary, on 7 February) is in Mac Suibhne, Paul Cullen and His Contemporaries, vol. 2, p. 191. See too the diary entry for 5 March 1859: another Pastoral for Cullen, on St Patrick, during another of Cullen's trips to Rome (in Mac Suibhne, vol. 2, pp. 285B6).

8. Cullen to Kirby, 21 July 1854 (Moran has complained about Smith) and 3 September 1854 (tell [Moran] to be courteous, and to use all due regard to a senior priest), New Kirby Papers, ICRA.

9. Moran to Bernard Smith, 2 August 1856 (draft), U2208, 3.7, MP, SAA.

10. Moran Diaries, MP, SAA. For a short time Moran was also interim vice-rector at the Scotch College, Rome, while a suitable Scottish candidate was sought.

11. Entries for 4 and 7 September 1856 and 3 November 1857, Moran Diaries, MP, SAA_ The official letter of appointment to the cattedra (university chair) came on 17 November 1857.

12. Undated entry for October 1857, Moran Diaries, MP, SAA.

13. Entries for 2 May and 3 and 6 June 1859, Moran Diaries, MP, SAA.

14. Daleth (pseudonym), 'The Most Rev. Dr. Moran, Archbishop-elect of Sydney', Brisbane Courier, 14 February 1884.

15. Entry for 16 January 1862, Moran Diaries, MP, SAA.

16. Entry for 16 January 1862, Moran Diaries, MP, SAA.

17. Entries for 5 and 4 August 1862, Moran Diaries, MP, SAA.nary Committee. (17)

The cordiality Moran showed his distinguished visitor did not foreclose later attacks on his publications: Moran would assault Todd's work systematically, and that would not prevent his election in 1869 as a member of the august, Protestant-dominated Royal Irish Academy in which Todd, as past president, had great influence. (18) Todd was a leading light of the Anglo-Irish intellectual establishment, and at this time scholarship on early Ireland had a strongly sectarian flavour. That was expected. There was a show of disinterestedness, the establishment of objective facts based on documentary evidence, but they were facts supporting arguments about (for instance) the authority, or lack of authority, of the Holy See over the ancient Irish Church, or whether the Blessed Virgin Mary was as profoundly venerated in the earliest times of the Irish Church as she was now. These are among the points at issue in Moran's Essays on the Origin, Doctrines, and Discipline of the Early Irish Church (James Duffy, Dublin, 1864), moving towards completion at the time he was showing Todd around the archives. It consists of three long essays on the early Irish Church, the first on its origin and connection with Rome, the second on its teaching regarding the eucharist, the third on the degree of its devotion to the Blessed Virgin. The essays are divided into chapters and followed by appendices consisting of extracts from early manuscripts and further arguments on them. The detailed table of contents at the end serves as an Index and shows the nature of the book. Parts of chapters include:
 Dr Todd's opinion that St. Palladius was not a deacon of Rome:
 contrary to the testimony of Prosper ... Dr Todd's opinion that St.
 Patrick did not commence his apostolate until 440: not supported by
 St. Patrick's writings: the Irish Nennius: Synchronisms of the
 Irish Kings: explicit testimony of the Annals of Ulster: Tirechan's
 statement: inconsistency of Todd's arguments: the Irish poet
 Gilla-Caemhain: not opposed to the common opinion: chronological
 Tract of Book of Lecan: true meaning of the passage cited by Dr.
 Todd: all our records conspire in referring the mission of St.
 Patrick to the year 432 3 ... Dr. Todd's opinion that St. Patrick
 received no mission from Rome ... illogical reasoning of Dr. Todd
 ...


and so on. Some of the appendices are also devoted to refuting Todd:
 Missal of St. Columbanus. Published by Mabillon: Dr. Lanigan and
 O'Conor prove that it contains the Irish liturgy: Dr. Todd's
 opinion refuted: proofs that it is Irish: agrees with Stowe Missal
 ... Dr. Todd's Remarks on Bobbio Missal. Dr. Todd endeavours to
 prove that this Missal is not Irish: his arguments refuted. (19)


Interestingly, there is no disagreement on the Collectio Hibernensis Canonum, three manuscripts of which Moran had found for Todd at the Vatican and Vallicellian archives.

Moran returned to Dublin to be Cullen's secretary in 1866, a busy job, particularly as he combined it with teaching at Holy Cross College, Clonliffe, and at the Catholic University. In what spare time remained to him, and out of term-time, he carried on his researches and writing. No substantial monographs appeared during his secretaryship, but he published a pamphlet on The Episcopal Succession in Ireland During the Reign of Elizabeth (Dublin, 1866; first published in the Irish Ecclesiastical Record of which he was a founding editor), a subject of much controversy at the time, and a new edition, with prefatory memoir, of Peter Lombard's De Regno Hiberniae Sanctorum Insula Commentarius (Dublin, 1868) which, however, contains only the last part of Lombard's work, not the interesting earlier parts. He was concurrently publishing numerous scholarly articles on early Irish ecclesiastical history in the Irish Ecclesiastical Record. Books Moran had earlier published had won him renown as a scholar second to none in Irish hagiology and Church history, and he enjoyed a substantial correspondence with other writers and researchers, including the prominent poet Aubrey Thomas de Vere, a Catholic convert close to the ageing Wordsworth-Coleridge circle, with strong antiquarian and political interests. De Vere was sixteen years Moran's senior. Both were tall, elegant men, with similar personalities: intellectual and serious, yet sophisticated and witty. They knew each other well and exchanged publications. (20) Another friend, correspondent and admirer was Dr William Maziere Brady, five years older than Moran, a Protestant who would be received into the Catholic Church in 1873. Brady's interests included Protestant ecclesiastical history--Clerical and Parochial Records of Cork, Cloyne and Ross (3 vols, Dublin, 1863-4) and State Papers Concerning the Irish Church in the Time of Queen Elizabeth (London, 1868) among other titles, and he supported the disestablishment of the (Anglican) Church of Ireland, which occurred in 1871. In the debate over the Irish episcopal succession he was on Moran's side. These and others, including the great antiquarian Dr Charles Russell, president of Maynooth College and member of the Historical Manuscripts Commission, regarded Moran as the leading authority in his fields, someone they could rely on for help with their own work. They in turn helped him (Russell, for instance, carried out research for Moran while working at the Bodleian Library in Oxford). In his publications Moran acknowledged his debts, even to popular writers like Charles Patrick Meehan, translator, historian and member of the Royal Irish Academy, who wrote to him on 28 March 1861, 'You are the first and only ecclesiastic of our Church who ever condescended to notice me.' (21)

Unlike some of his scholarly confreres, Moran had sufficient money of his own to pay copyists to transcribe manuscripts for him in Rome, in Milan and other parts of Italy, at the St Gall monastery in Switzerland, in London, in fact anywhere there were manuscripts he wanted transcribed. It was not a great expense. Dr Bartholomew

Woodlock, second rector of the Catholic University in Dublin, in the course of seeking out manuscripts for Moran at the British Museum and Public Record Office, secured him a London copyist at the rate of 6d per folio of 72 words, not a bad deal for either side. The copyists were impecunious young men grateful for the work. (22)

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Throughout my biography of Moran I pay considerable attention to his scholarship and here there is only time to sketch its early development. One shouldn't, in an ex-post-facto way, judge that scholarship by the embarrassing obsession of his much later work on the so-called discovery of Australia by De Quiros. He was not a geographer and one should distinguish this pious and peculiar idee fixe from his earlier work in ecclesiastical history, which has stood the test of time well despite its element of parti pris. A number of his editions of Catholic writings are still the standard ones, not having been re-edited, and his collection Spicilegium Ossoriense (1874-84) provides numerous documents which are otherwise difficult to access. His work on Oliver Plunkett and other Irish martyrs identified and employed a profusion of sources and documents which have been made use of by subsequent historians, as one of the foremost researchers in the fields Moran developed, Professor Colin Lennon of the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, points out. In Lennon's view
 There's no doubt that he was essentially a scholar when he
 approached the past and not a dogmatist. As to his scholarly
 methods, perhaps I can point to a couple of case studies. I have
 used the manuscript copy of John Howlin's 'Perbreve' compendium of
 c. 1589 which is in the Salamanca papers here in Maynooth, along
 with Moran's edition of the Spicilegium. I haven't come across
 major discrepancies, but there are a few pretty important
 marginalia in the manuscript that are not referred to in the
 printed version. Similarly, I have consulted the original state
 papers documenting aspects of the career of Primate Creagh as well
 as the edited versions of Moran in Spicilegium. There are a few
 fairly minor errors in the latter, but nothing of much significance
 ... My overall assessment of his standing as a historian is that he
 is rightly regarded as a pioneer of research into the
 ecclesiastical history of the early modern period in terms of his
 finding of sources and editing of them, but that his commentaries
 and biographical sketches need to be treated with circumspection
 because they are suffused with the devotional spirit of his times.
 Once this element is recognised, however, his work can in itself be
 of historiographical importance. (23)


All the more regrettable, then, that he allowed his obsession with De Quiros to give Australians a false impression of his quality as a researcher.

(1.) Diary entry for 31 October 1874: 'Dr Croke, Bishop of Auckland, came to stop with me for a few days. We were old friends as students in the Irish College, Rome. He left Rome in Nov. 1847. I was then commencing my 3rd year's Philosophy.' Moran Diaries, Moran Papers (MP), Sydney Archdiocesan Archives (SAA).

(2.) Newman to J. D. Dalgairns, 22 November 1846, The Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman, ed. Charles Stephen Dessain, Thomas Nelson & Sons Ltd, London, 1961, XI, 279.

(3.) The Tablet, 30Augnst 1851.

(4.) See the entry for 18 February 1871, Moran Diaries, Moran Papers, Sydney Archdiocesan Archives (SAA). Also Moran to Kirby, 7 June 1853 from Dublin, and 11 October 1853 from Liverpool on the way back to Rome. New Kirby Papers, Irish College, Rome, Archives (ICRA).

(5.) Moran, The Fruits of Self-Culture: Address delivered by the Archbishop of Sydney, at a Special Meeting of the Catholic Young Men's Association, in the Sacred Heart Hall, Sydney, 1st December, 1884, O'Hara & Johnson, Sydney, n.d. [1885], p. 27. This was reprinted as Industry and Self-Culture (Browne & Nolan, Dublin, 1885) after Moran delivered it to the Kilkenny Catholic Young Men's Society that year.

(6.) Entries for 16, 18, 19 November 1854, Moran Diaries, MP, SAA. Passaglia was an interesting man. In 1861 he published Pro causa italica in support of the movement for Italian unity, and it was put on the Index of Prohibited Books. He fled to Turin. For liberal intellectuals, inclusion of a book on the Index made it a 'must read'. Moran, as I show in my biography, thought the Index a dubious institution.

(7.) Cullen to Kirby, 16 January 1854, Kirby Papers, ICRA. The Lenten Pastoral (written, according to Moran's diary, on 7 February) is in Mac Suibhne, Paul Cullen and His Contemporaries, vol. 2, p. 191. See too the diary entry for 5 March 1859: another Pastoral for Cullen, on St Patrick, during another of Cullen's trips to Rome (in Mac Suibhne, vol. 2, pp. 285B6).

(8.) Cullen to Kirby, 21 July 1854 (Moran has complained about Smith) and 3 September 1854 (tell [Moran] to be courteous, and to use all due regard to a senior priest), New Kirby Papers, ICRA.

(9.) Moran to Bernard Smith, 2 August 1856 (draft), U2208, 3.7, MP, SAA.

(10.) Moran Diaries, MP, SAA. For a short time Moran was also interim vice-rector at the Scotch College, Rome, while a suitable Scottish candidate was sought.

(11.) Entries for 4 and 7 September 1856 and 3 November 1857, Moran Diaries, MP, SAA. The official letter of appointment to the cattedra (university chair) came on 17 November 1857.

(12.) Undated entry for October 1857, Moran Diaries, MP, SAA.

(13.) Entries for 2 May and 3 and 6 June 1859, Moran Diaries, MP, SAA.

(14.) Daleth (pseudonym), 'The Most Rev. Dr. Moran, Archbishop-elect of Sydney', Brisbane Courier, 14 February 1884.

(15.) Entry for 16 January 1862, Moran Diaries, MP, SAA.

(16.) Entry for 16 January 1862, Moran Diaries, MP, SAA.

(17.) Entries for 5 and 4 August 1862, Moran Diaries, MP, SAA.

(18.) Manuscript Minutes of the Royal Irish Academy, V (1869), 46: meeting of Monday 11 January 1869: The names of the Rev Patrick F. Moran, D.D. and William MacCormack, M.D. &.c, with those of their proposers and seconders were read from the Chair ; his name was read a second time on Monday 8 February 1869 and he was elected (Minutes, V, 51, 52); at the meeting of 22 February he signed the Roll and was admitted, membership no. 1218 (Minutes, V, 56). Proposer and seconder unnamed. President and chairman, Lord Talbot de Malahide.

(19.) See Moran, Essays on the Origin, Doctrines, and Discipline of the Early Irish Church (James Duffy, Dublin, 1864), pp. 329-37 and passim. Many of Moran's works are disputatious. Thus the History of the Catholic Archbishops of Dublin, which came out that year, attacks the continuity theory of succession advocated by Anglican scholars for the Church of Ireland.

(20.) See de Vere's letters to Moran of 26 December 1866, 9 September 1867, 16 March 1868, 26 February 1869 and 31 March 1871, Moran Papers, Ossory Diocesan Archives (ODA).

(21.) Correspondence from Brady, Russell, Meehan and others in the Moran Papers, ODA.

(22.) Correspondence from various copyists, Moran Papers, ODA.

(23.) Professor Colm Lennon, NUI Maynooth, to the author, 7 September 2005.

Philip Ayres was head of the English Department at Monash University, 1998-2001. He is author of Classical Culture and the Idea of Rome in Eighteenth-Century England (1997), other books on English literary and cultural history, and major Australian biographies: Malcolm Fraser (1987), Douglas Mawson (1999), Owen Dixon (2003). This paper was delivered to the Society in 2006 and was a precursor to his Prince of the Church: Patrick Francis Moran, 1830-1911 (Miegunyah/MUP, 2007), launched in July 2007.
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Author:Ayres, Philip
Publication:Journal of the Australian Catholic Historical Society
Geographic Code:4EUIR
Date:Jan 1, 2007
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