MEEHAN-L ArchivesArchiver > MEEHAN > 2004-08 > 1092404999
From: "Ted Meehan" <>
Subject: Blessed Charles Meehan, OSF
Date: Fri, 13 Aug 2004 09:49:59 -0400
Blessed Charles Meehan, OSF
Nicholas The O'Meighan who lived from about 1615 until 1650 had four sons: James; Charles; Terrence; and Christopher. All of these received their early education under the guidance of their uncle James (Fr. Bonaventura, OSF in religion) who was Guardian of St. Anthony's College in Louvian. Terrence, James, and Charles all followed in their uncles religious vocation, and Christopher became Chieftain of the Clan.
After their initial education in Louvain, the boys resumed their education at the Franciscan Abbey at Drumahair, and later at Jamestown Friary. Charles was a brilliant scholar, and he also spent some years at the Franciscan Abbey as a teacher. Later, he returned to Louvain to continue his studies, before heading off to the Irish Franciscan College in Prague, Bohemia. Upon his return to Louvain, he was ordained a priest at the age of 26 in 1671.
As Charles returned to Ireland from his assignment in Prague, he was given permission to say Mass, and hear confessions, but not to preach at the Franciscan Provincial Chapter which was held in Elphin Friary in 1672. Soon after, Charles was sent as a missionery to Scotland. After a short time there, he was ordered to return to Louvain to further his studies. Then in November 1674, he was sent to Hammelbourg, Germany to study Theology, and he remained there for two years.
For two years after his completion of studies in Germany, Charles was stationed in Rome, where he was a preacher and teacher at the Irish Franciscan College of St. Isadore's in Rome. After his two years in Rome, he was sent back to Ireland. However, his ship was wrecked off the coast of Wales in a storm in 1678. Charles was able to swim ashore with some of his belongings, coming upon land near Milford Haven in Wales. He was arrested, while traveling North on foot, in an effort to find a ship heading for Ireland. His offense was that he did not speak the Welsh language.
During this time, a renegade Puritan fanatic, named Titus Oates, was stirring up anti-Catholic emotions by telling the people that Catholics intended to kill King Charles II, so that his brother James, Duke of York (and a Catholic) could ascend to the throne. This propaganda was called "The Popish Plot", and it continued for another ten years, during which many Catholics were accused of imaginary treachery and executed. Perhaps the most famous of these martyrs was St. Oliver Plunkett - another kinsman of the O'Meighans through Margarita O'Reilly, who was granddaughter of Sir Christopher Plunkett, 8th Baron of Dunsany, and sister-in-law to Blessed Charles.
Getting back to Charles O'Meighan, during his questioning it became known that Charles was a Catholic priest. He was therefore handed over to a cruel man named William Shaw, who beat him and spit upon him, saying "say Mass for us priest." Charles escaped for a short time but was recaptured. Upon his return, he was treated even more brutally.
Eventually, he was tried for treason. The logic being that, since it is against the law to be a Catholic, and Charles was a priest, he must be a Papist Sympathizer. Charles explained that he was an Irish Francsican Friar on his way back to Ireland, but that he had the misfortune to be shipwrecked off the coast of Wales. He had no intention of violating any of the local laws, and - in fact - had not been able to say mass since he had been imprisoned the entire time he had been in Wales. There was little reason to punish Charles further, but the Welsh court found him guilty and sentenced him to be hanged, and then drawn and quartered. They then sent him back to prison at Denbigh (near the area where he was first arrested).
The borough council objected to his imprisonment in that town because they didn't want to pay his upkeep. At this point, Sir John Salisbury, MP ordered his transfer to Ruthin, where, it was hoped, he would be released.
However, on April 21, 1679, King Charles II appointed Anthony First Earl of Shaftsbury as President of the Council. Shaftsbury was a bigoted anti-Catholic, and ally of Titus Oates.
On August 12, 1679 (the Feast Day of St. Maloise, who was a clansman of St. Charles), Charles was taken from his prison cell, and tied to a wooden sled so that he could be dragged outside the town by a horse. There he was hanged, and drawn and quartered. His heart and bowels were cut out first and thrown into the fire in front of the gallows. Then his head was cut off, and the rest of his body cut into quarters and thrown into the fire. But the head was taken back to the Courthouse, where it was mounted on a pike, and it remained there for sometime before it was buried secretly.
The last words of St. Charles, while standing upon the gallows, were a prophesy of King Charles II's conversion to Catholicism. "Now Almighty God is pleased I should suffer this martyrdom. His Holy Name be praised since I die for my religion. But you have no right to put me to death in this country though I confessed myself to be a priest, for you siezed me as I was going to my native country, Ireland - being driven at sea on this coast, for I never used my function in England (Wales) before I was taken. However, God forgive you, for I do and I shall always pray for you, especially for those who were good to me in my distress. I pray God to bless our King, Charles, and defend him from his enemies and convert him to the Holy Catholic Faith. Amen." (King Charles II was received into the Catholic church on his death bed on the 6th of February, 1685.)
Fr. Charles Meehan was declared Venerable by a decree of Pope Leo XIII on December 4, 1886. He was Beatified by Pope John Paul II in Rome on November 22, 1987, and many of his Leitrim clansmen travelled to Rome for the occasion.