Paul Cullen (bishop) bigraphy, stories - Irish Catholic cardinal

Paul Cullen (bishop) : biography

29 April 1803 - 24 October 1878

Paul Cullen was a Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin who became the first Irish cardinal, but is more controversially remembered for his Ultramontanism which spearheaded the Romanisation of the Catholic Church in Ireland.

A trained biblical theologian and scholar of ancient languages, Cullen is best known for his crafting of the formula for papal infallibility at the First Vatican Council. Depending on one's view, Cullen is largely credited with, or blamed for, ushering in the devotional revolution experienced in Ireland through the second half of the 19th century and much of the 20th century.


Early years

Cullen was born at Prospect, Narraghmore, County Kildare. His first school was the Quaker Shackleton School in nearby Ballitore. He was one of 16 children. Following the relaxation of some of the Penal Laws, his father, Hugh Cullen, had purchased some , giving him the status of a "strong" Catholic farmer,"The term 'strong' Catholic does not have a specific definition" Catholic Answers to Explain and Defend the Faith a class that greatly influenced 19th-century Irish society. They were fervent in their Catholicism and fearful of the sort of social unrest which had led to the failed 1798 Rising.

Cullen entered St. Patrick's, Carlow College, in 1816, and in 1820 proceeded to the Pontifical Urban College in Rome where his name is registered on the roll of students as of 29 November 1820. At the close of a distinguished course of studies, he was selected to hold a public disputation in the halls of propaganda on 11 September 1828, in 224 theses from all theology and ecclesiastical history. The Catholic Encyclopedia (1914)

This theological tournament was privileged in many ways, for Pope Leo XII, attended by his court, presided on the occasion, while no fewer than ten cardinals assisted at it, together with all the élite of ecclesiastical Rome. Vincenzo Pecci, the future Pope Leo XIII, was present at the disputation. During his studies, Cullen acquired knowledge of classical and Oriental languages. He was later appointed to the chairs of Hebrew and Sacred Scripture in the schools of propaganda, and receiving at the same time the charge of the famed printing establishment of the Congregation of Propaganda Fidei. This later charge he resigned in 1832, when appointed Rector of the Irish College in Rome, but during the short term of his administration he published a standard edition of the Greek and Latin Lexicon of Benjamin Hedericus, which still holds its place in the Italian colleges; he also edited the Acts of the congregation in seven quarto volumes, as well as other important works.

Rector of the Irish College

In late 1831, Cullen was appointed rector of a fledgling and struggling Irish College. He successfully secured the future of the college by increasing the student population and thereby strengthening the finances of the college. He astutely fostered relationships with the Irish hierarchy, on whom he relied for students, often becoming their official Roman agent. This role yielded income and influence and was to remain a key function of future rectors. He endeavoured to chart a middle ground between conflicting parties of Irish bishops but usually found himself in agreement with Archbishop McHale of Tuam (as opposed to Archbishop Murray of Dublin) on the divisive issues of education and charitable bequests. He was active in his opposition to the establishment of the secular Queen's Colleges. This early alliance with McHale was however to be short-lived and the two men were to frequently clash swords over the forthcoming decades.

While rector of the Irish College (1832–1850), Cullen was admitted to the intimate friendship of Gregory XVI and Pius IX. He profited by the influence which he thus enjoyed to safeguard the interests of the Irish Church and to counteract the intrigues of the UK diplomatic staff who at this period were lobbying the Vatican for support in European affairs.

During the revolution that marked the demise of the Papal States and the beginning of the Roman Republic, he accepted the position of rector of the College of Propaganda while retaining charge of the Irish College. Soon after his appointment the Revolutionary Trimuvirate issued orders that the College of Propaganda was to be dissolved and the buildings appropriated. The rector appealed to Lewis Cass, a United States politician, for the protection of the citizens of the United States who were students of the college. Within an hour, the American flag was floating over the Propaganda College. A decree was issued to the effect that the Propaganda should be retained.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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