A Prayer to Mother Mary

Irish Madonna

Irish Madonna

( sometimes known as the Irish Madonna of Gyor )

This painting hung in the Cathedral of Clonfert, in the diocese of Tuam, when in 1649 England dispatched Oliver Cromwell on a punitive expedition to Ireland and the religious persecution began. William Lynch, the Catholic Bishop of the tiny diocese of Clonfert, and some of his fellow prelates were arrested and herded to an island called Innisboffin, where they were imprisoned. Bishop Lynch always carried with him the picture of the Madonna from Clonfert Cathedral, fearing that this treasured relic might fall into impious hands. In 1652, with some members of his group he succeeded in escaping to Europe and finally ended up in Gyor, Hungary. Appointed an auxiliary of the diocese he laboured there for 10 years until his death. On his deathbed he bequeathed the picture of the Madonna to the Bishop of Gyor, who placed it in the cathedral. Bishop Lynch himself is buried in the cathedral crypt.

In 1697 the Irish Parliament passed an edict that all priests were to be expelled from the territory of Ireland and from all the British Isles, the churches confiscated and all traces of the Catholic religion wiped out. A national Irish church was established and the dead could only be buried by ministers of that religion.

On March 17, 1697, Saint Patrick’s Day, as thousands were praying during early morning Mass in the Cathedral of Gyor, priests and faithful suddenly saw that the eyes of the Madonna on the picture donated by the Irish prelate were shedding tears and blood, which dropped down upon the Child in the crib over which she was bending. This miracle lasted more than three hours. The face of the Madonna was wiped with linen (this linen is still preserved in the Cathedral of Gyor), but the blood and tears did not cease to flow. The picture was immediately taken from the wall and removed from its frame; the phenomenon continued. News of the marvel immediately spread to the far corners of the city and not only Catholics, but Protestants and Jews flocked to see the miracle. It was witnessed by thousands, and many of them gave testimony of what they saw. A document signed by more than a hundred persons bears the signature of the imperial governor of the city, the mayor, all the councilmen, the Bishop, some priests, Calvinist and Lutheran ministers and a Jewish rabbi--all of whom, volunteered to give their testimony to an undeniable fact.