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Lawrence O'toole, St.


First Irish archbishop of Dublin; b. near Castledermot (?), County Kildare, 1128; d. Eu, Normandy, Nov. 14, 1180. Lawrence (Lorcán O'Tuathail) was of the royal family Uí Muiredaig (which at that time had lost the right of succession); its patrimony was the southern part of Kildare, with stronghold at Mullaghmast. While yet a boy, Lawrence spent some time as a hostage with the notorious Diarmait Mac Murchada. He was committed to the care of the bishop of glendalough, of which his grandfather, Giolla Comgaill, had been comarba Coemgin, or lay head. There, at the age of 25, he became abbot (114854). On the death of the bishop, Gilla na Naomh, Lawrence, then 29, declined an invitation to succeed him. But he was prevailed upon in 1162 to be consecrated the first archbishop of Dublin. The circumstances of his consecration marked a definite break with Canterbury.

As archbishop, Lawrence reformed the canons of Christ Church (Dublin) by introducing the Aaroasian rule, which he himself embraced. He was a fearless upholder of the rights of the Church. He attended synods at Athboy (1167), Cashel (1172), Dublin (1177), and Clonfert (1179), when many grave abuses were corrected. In 1179 also he set off for the Third lateran council; when he stopped in England on his way to Rome, henry ii made him swear not to infringe upon the rights of the English crown in Ireland. Lawrence, however, secured from alexander iii papal protection for Dublin and its five suffragan sees and was appointed papal legate for Ireland. He played an important part as intermediary between the Irish and the Norman invaders in 1170 and 1171; in 1175 he negotiated the Windsor Treaty for Ruaidhrí O'Conchobhair, high king of Ireland. But he found it necessary in 1180 to return to England with the son of the high king to treat further on behalf of Ruaidhrí. This time he was ignored by Henry II and was forbidden to return to Ireland. When the king departed for Normandy, Lawrence followed him still hoping to make peace between him and Ruaidhrí. However, he died at Eu. He was canonized by honorius iii in 1226.

Feast: Nov. 14.

Bibliography: a. legris, Saint Laurent O'Toole archevêque de Dublin (Rouen 1914). j. f. o'doherty, Laurentius von Dublin und das irische Normannentum (Dublin 1934); "St. Laurence O'Toole and the Anglo-Norman Invasion," The Irish Ecclesiastical Record 50 (1937) 449477, 600625; 51 (1938) 131146. m. v. ronan, "St. Laurentius, Archbishop of Dublin: Original Testimonies for Canonization," ibid. 27 (1926) 347364; 28 (1926) 247256, 467480. a. gwynn, "Saint Lawrence O'Toole as Legate in Ireland (11791180)," Analecta biblica 68 (1950) 223240. c. plummer, "Vie et miracles de S. Laurent, archevêque de Dublin," ibid. 33 (1914) 121186. j. ryan, "The Ancestry of St. Laurence O'Toole," Reportorium novum 1 (1955) 6475. d. forristal, The Man in the Middle: St Laurence O'Toole, Patron Saint of Dublin (Dublin 1988). j. hennig, "The Place of the Archdiocese of Dublin in the Hagiographical Tradition of the Continent," ibid. 4563, esp. 5459.

[c. mcgrath]

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