Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

Archbishop of Armagh, b. at Dundalk, Ireland, about 1295; d. at Avignon, 16 Dec., 1360. He studied in Oxford, where we first find mention of him in 1325 as an ex-fellow and teacher of Balliol College. He was made doctor of theology before 1331, and was chancellor of Oxford University in 1333. In 1334 he was made chancellor of Lincoln Cathedral, and in Jan., 1335, canon and prebendary of Lichfield, "notwithstanding that he has canonries and prebends of Crediton and Bosham, and has had provision made for him of the Chancellorship of Lincoln and the canonries and prebends of Armagh and Exeter, all of which he is to resign" (Bliss, Calendar of Entries in Papal Registers, II, 524). He was archdeacon of Chester when made dean of Lichfield in 1337. On 31 July, 1346, he was consecrated Archbishop of Armagh.

Fitzralph was a man who pre-eminently joined the speculative temperament with the practical. One of the great Scholastic luminaries of his day, and a close friend of the scholarly Richard of Bury , he fostered learning among his priests by sending many of them to take higher studies in Oxford. He was zealous too in visiting the various church provinces, and in bettering financial as well as spiritual conditions in his own see. He contended for his primatial rights against the immunity claimed by the See of Dublin ; and on various occasions acted as peacemaker between the English and the Irish. He was in great demand as a preacher, and many of his sermons are still extant in manuscript. Whilst at Avignon in 1350, Fitzralph presented a memorial from the English clergy reciting certain complaints against the mendicant orders. After serving on a commission appointed by Clement VI to inquire into the points at issue, he embodied his own views in the treatise "De Pauperie Salvatoris", which deals with the subject of evangelical poverty, as well as the questions then agitated concerning dominion, possession, and use, and the relation of these to the state of grace in man. Part of this work is printed by Poole in his edition of Wyclif's "De Dominio Divino" (London, 1890). It was probably during this visit that Fitzralph also took part in the negotiations going on between the Armenian delegates and the pope. He composed an elaborate apologetico-polemic work, entitled "Summa in Quaestionibus Armenorum" (Paris, 1511), in which he displayed his profound knowledge of Scripture with telling effect in refuting the Greek and Armenian heresies.

Fitzralph's controversy with the friars came to a crisis when he was cited to Avignon in 1357. Avowing his entire submission to the authority of the Holy See, he defended his attitude towards the friars in the plea entitled "Defensorium Curatorum" (printed in Goldast's "Monarchia" and elsewhere). He maintained as probable that voluntary mendicancy is contrary to the teachings of Christ. His main plea, however, was for the withdrawal of the privileges of the friars in regard to confessions, preaching, burying, etc. He urged a return to the purity of their original institution, claiming that these privileges undermined the authority of the parochial clergy. The friars were not molested, but by gradual legislation harmony was restored between them and the parish clergy. Fitzralph's position, however, was not directly condemned, and he died in peace at Avignon. In 1370 his remains were transferred to St. Nicholas' church, Dundalk; miracles were reported from his tomb and for several centuries his memory was held in saintly veneration. His printed works are mentioned above. His "Opus in P. Lombardi Sententias" and several other works (list in the "Catholic University Bulletin", XI, 243) are still in manuscript.

More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 4:32--5:8
32 Be generous to one another, sympathetic, forgiving each other as ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 1:1-2, 3, 4, 6
1 How blessed is anyone who rejects the advice of the wicked and does not ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 13:10-17
10 One Sabbath day he was teaching in one of the synagogues,11 ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 24th, 2016 Image

St. Anthony Mary Claret
October 24: Claretian archbishop and founder. Anthony was ... Read More