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Jesuit priest to be beatified in Ireland next month

A drawing of Fr John Sullivan by Sean O'Sullivan. (Image: CNS, courtesy Irish Jesuit Communications)

Fr John Sullivan SJ is to be beatified in Dublin on May 13, it was reported this week.

The beatification, at the Jesuits’ St Francis Xavier church in Gardiner Street, where Fr Sullivan is buried, will be the first ever held in Ireland.

A miracle attributed to Fr Sullivan was recognised by the Vatican last year. A Dubliner, Delia Farnham, had made a miraculous recovery from a neck tumour in 1954 after praying for his intercession.

Among the other healings attributed to him is one of Michael Collins, nephew of Michael Collins, founder of the Irish Free State in 1928, who was paralysed as a young boy but suddenly walked after Fr Sullivan touched his leg and prayed over him.

John Sullivan was born in Dublin in 1861 to a wealthy Protestant father and Catholic mother.

At the turn of the century, while working as a barrister in London, he converted to Catholicism. His reception into the Church was at Farm Street, the centre of London’s Jesuit community, and he entered the Jesuit novitiate in 1900. He worked as a teacher in County Kildare and later as a rector on the outskirts of Dublin.

He is associated with a number of apparent miracles throughout his lifetime and his reputation attracted hundreds of ill people who came to him in the hope of a cure. He was fiercely devoted to the sick, and would travel long distances to make a sick call, often on a battered bicycle.

He died on February 19, 1933, at St Vincent’s Nursing Home, Dublin.

His Cause was opened in 1944, 11 years after his death. It was only in 2014, though, that Pope Francis declared him “venerable” and acknowledged that he had lived a life of heroic virtue.