The Scandal of Saint Charles of Mount Argus

June 4, 2007 at 1:34 am Leave a comment

Yesterday the Pope magicked four new ‘saints’ into being, one of them based on a 19th century Dutch priest who lived in Dublin. The Irish President and Garda Commissioner attended the show, which the media reported as if something real had actually happened. Perhaps even as real as the scandal that caused the Church to transfer Fr Charles from Ireland to England in 1866. >>>


The Vatican website claims that Fr Charles was moved ‘because of his fame (as a healer), in order to afford him some rest.’ But, in reality, he was exiled for eight years because he was accused of blessing bottles of water which traders were then selling as ‘holy water’, and of advising sick people not to seek medical help.

Now, in fairness to Fr Charles, who seems a decent man, ‘holy water’ was the homeopathy of the day, and he may not have known that the people to whom he was giving it were selling it on. But nobody in the early 21st century should celebrate the advising of sick people not to seek medical help.


At the time, one doctor wrote in a Dublin newspaper that a girl had come to him with ophthalmia. One of her eyes had become inflamed six weeks earlier, and she went to Mount Argus where

These gentlemen rubbed her eyes with ‘the relics’, ordered her to take holy water internally, and told her not to go near the doctors. She remained under this treatment until both her eyes were destroyed. Thus, a poor girl, who under proper medical treatment could have been perfectly cured of her disease, is now thrown into the poorhouse.


In Saturday’s Irish Times, Patsy McGarry suggests that the medical profession made these complaints because ‘then, as now, they were assiduous in protecting their interests’. He also says that the doctors later withdrew the charge.

However, a biography of Fr Charles, while asserting his innocence, quotes the above letter but makes no reference to the doctors withdrawing their complaints. This book—To Heal the Broken-Hearted: the Life of Blessed Charles of Mount Argus—was first published in 1988 and republished online in 2007.

So what is the truth of this scandal? I have no idea, but I will try to find out.


Entry filed under: My Favourites, News, Religion.

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A blog by Michael Nugent

Welcome to my blog about living in the maddest country on earth. Please feel free to leave a comment.

I also write Bionic Bohs, a blog about following Bohemians football club in the 1970s.


Bionic Bohs

As mentioned above, if you like Irish football and/or cultural nostalgia, I also write Bionic Bohs, a blog about following Bohs in the 1970s.

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