Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Heart of O'Connell

On a recent trip to Rome, I visited the Irish College, which houses this monument to Daniel O'Connell, the Liberator. Daniel O'Connell secured Catholic Emancipation in 1829. When he died in 1847, in Genoa on a pilgrimage to Rome, he bequeathed his body to Ireland, his heart to Rome and his soul to God. His son brought his heart to Rome, but was unable to get a tomb for it at St Peter's, as only Popes and those of royal blood can be buried there. He left the heart with the Pontifical Irish College. It was placed in an alcove in the wall. When his friend, Charles Bianconi visited Rome some time later, he went to see O'Connell's heart. Finding it without a suitable resting place or acknowledgment, he commissioned a new casket made of precious metals and monument (which is seen in the picture above).
However, in the 1920's, the Irish College was too small for its numbers and a new building was purchased. Everything was to be transferred in the move but whilst the monument was moved, sadly the casket was not. The monument is in place in the current Irish College near St John Lateran Basilica, however, there whereabouts of the casket and the heart it contained are unknown.

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