Tuesday 25 October 2016

Tributes to saint of WWI trenches Father Gleeson


THE diaries of Fr Frances Gleeson, the best-known Irish chaplain of the first World War, went on public display for the first time at Glasnevin Cemetery.

The priest, who provided solace to the soldiers in the 2nd battalion of the Royal Munster Fusiliers, recorded the true horrors of WWI in minute detail in a series of letters and diaries.

Chairman of the Glasnevin Trust John Green marked the centenary anniversary of the first absolution of the Fusiliers by Fr Francis Gleeson at Glasnevin Cemetary yesterday afternoon.

Fr Gleeson's diaries are regarded as so important that one of them is in the National Museum of Ireland in Collins Barracks.

The ceremony was marked by a series of readings taken from dairies and letters written by Fr Gleeson, one of which was read by his nephew Paul Gleeson, from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA. A wreath laying ceremony also took place.

Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin previously said that although Fr Gleeson asked to be relieved of his duties following the terrible Battle of Loos in September 1915, it was extraordinary that he returned to the front in 1917 despite the horrors he had witnessed.

His sense of humanity continued after the war as parish priest of Meath Street in Dublin, Dr Martin said.

Meanwhile, throughout Europe and America yesterday there were moments of memory and military pomp as leaders and ordinary citizens marked 70 years since the Nazi defeat and the end of World War II.

Paris' mile-long Champs Elysees was closed to traffic to make way for a procession of official motorcades and mounted military escorts that ascended the wide boulevard from the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe, site of France's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and the US ambassador to France joined French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius to lay a wreath at the tomb, in a sign of appreciation for the American role in liberating France from German occupation.

Photos taken 70 years ago show massive crowds of Parisians filling the Champs Elysees to celebrate the Nazi surrender.

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