Rice, Stephen, 1625-1699, Jesuit priest

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Rice, Stephen, 1625-1699, Jesuit priest

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Other form(s) of name

  • James Flent
  • Riccius
  • Stephanus Rice

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Dates of existence

03 April 1625-07 January 1699


Born: 03 April 1625, Dingle, County Kerry
Entered: 20 May 1648, Kilkenny
Ordained: 13 March 1660, Louvain, Belgium
Final Vows: 03/ November 1664
Died: 07 January 1699, Dublin Residence - Romanae Province (ROM)

Alias James Flent
Superior of Mission 08 October 1672

Had studied 2 years Philosophy before Ent. Taught Humanities 16 years. Was Superior of Irish Mission
1666 Is living near New Ross teaching school at his Boarding School. Preaches Catechetics in the country and does parochial work. Very good. On Mission 5 years. Has good talents with great fitness for catechising and teaching boys.
1679-1682 Minister and Prefect of Boarders at Irish College Poitiers
There is at Clongowes a “Praxis Episcopalis” Ed 1618 in which is written “P Ig. Rice”

1660 or 1662 Sent to Ireland from Professed House at Antwerp
1662 Living in New Ross where he kept a boarding school, and was engaged in Preaching, Catechising etc, and also occasionally acting as PP
1672 Superior of the Mission, and recommended for the same office in 1697 . Father Kelly, Rector at Poitiers, in a letter to the General, recommends Stephen Rice to be the Superior of the Mission again in a letter dated 26 May 1697 (Oliver, Stonyhurst MSS)
He is the author of a long and most interesting history of the Irish Mission SJ 1669-1675 (cf Foley’s Collectanea)
Highly eulogised in letters of the martyred Archbishop Plunkett to the General Oliva, dated Dublin 22 November 1672 and Armagh 31 January 1673
Much praised for learning, zeal, eloquence, holiness etc, by Primate Plunket and Dr Peter Talbot
Note from No Ch Name (actually George) Murphy :
Named in an Italian letter, dated Dublin 22 November 1672, ad written by the Martyr, the Archbishop Oliver Plunket, Primate of Ireland, to Father General Oliva, in which, after expressing his affectionate regard for the Society, and informing him of the meritorious labours of Fathers Rice and Ignatius Brown at Drogheda, he speaks of Father Murphy as a good Theologian, and excellent religious man, a man of great talent, and a distinguished preacher in the Irish language. (cf Oliver, Stonyhurst MSS)

◆ Fr Francis Finegan SJ :
Son of James and Phyllis née Fanning (daughter of Edmund of Limerick) and brother of Br Nicholas Rice (LEFT?)
Studied Humanities and Philosophy under the Jesuits at Kilkenny before Ent 20 May 1648 Kilkenny
A year after First Vows he was sent to Flanders for Regency before Theology at Louvain where he was Ordained 13 March 1660
1662 Sent to Ireland and initially to Limerick
1663-1670 Sent to join Stephen Gellous at New Ross, where he taught Humanities and Rhetoric for the next seven years
1670-1672 Went to Drogheda to organise the College there which was opened by Blessed Oliver Plunket.
1672-1678 Superior of the Mission 08/10/1672. A fresh wave of persecution meant that the schools had to be closed and missionary work carried on in secret. During his term of office the Irish College, Poitiers was established, not only as a school for boys, but also a refuge for old, inform or exiled Irish Missioners. Before he finished Office he wrote at length to the General regarding the Irish Mission 1669-1675.
1678-1682 At the time of the Oates's Plot, 1678, he was arrested and then deported. He went to Poitiers and was Minister of the Irish College until 1682
1682 Sent back to Ireland and Limerick. After the surrender of Limerick he came to Dublin as Consultor of the Mission, and he died there 07 January 1699, and is buried in St. Catherine’s Churchyard

◆ James B Stephenson SJ The Irish Jesuits Vol 1 1962
Stephen Rice (1672-1675)

Stephen Rice, son of James Rice, of Dinglicoush, and Phyllis, daughter of Edmund Tanning, of Limerick, was born at Dingle on 3rd April, 1625. He made his early studies up to philosophy at the College of Kilkenny, where he entered the Novitiate of the Society on 20th May, 1648. In 1651 he was sent to Flanders, where, after the usual course of teaching and study, he was ordained priest on 13th March, 1660, during his fourth year of theology at Louvain. On his return to Ireland he was stationed first at Limerick (1662), but next year he was sent to New Ross, where he taught school for seven years. He made his solemn profession of four vows at Dublin on 3rd November, 1664. In 1670 he went to Drogheda to conduct the College opened there by the Blessed Oliver Plunket. On 8th October, 1672, he was appointed Superior of the Mission. A fresh outburst of persecution caused the closing of our schools, and the ordinary ministrations of the Society had to be carried on in secret. During Fr Rice's term of office the Irish College of Poitiers was founded as a house of refuge for old, infirm, or exiled missioners. Before leaving office he wrote a long report on the work of the Society in Ireland from 1669 to 1675. At the time of Oates's pretended Plot (1678) he was arrested and banished. He went to Poitiers, and acted as Minister of the Irish College till 1682, when he returned to Limerick. After the surrender of Limerick he came to Dublin, as Consultor of the Mission, and died there on 7th January, 1699.

◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973
Father Stephen Rice SJ 1625-1699
Stephen Rice was born in Dingle in 625. Educated at our school in Kilkenny, he entered the noviceship there in 1648. Ordained at Louvain in 1660, the year of the Restoration of Charles II, he was stationed first at Limerick, then at New Ross, in which town he taught school for seven years.

At the request of Blessed Oliver Plunkett he opened a school in Drogheda, where he had 150 pupils, besides 40 Protestant gentlemen who attended classes in 1670.

Two years later he was made Superior of the Mission. During the disturbance caused by the Titus Oates Plot, he went to Poitiers, where he acted as Minister.

However, in 1682 he managed to return to Ireland and he worked in Limerick. After the surrender of that city to the Williamites he came to Dublin as Consultor of the Mission, and he died there in January 7th, 1699.

◆ George Oliver Towards Illustrating the Biography of the Scotch, English and Irish Members SJ
RICE, STEPHEN, began his Noviceship at Kilkenny, and in the sequel became a leading man amongst his Brethren. The venerable Primate Archbishop Plunkett, of glorious memory,* in a letter addressed from Dublin on the 22nd of November, 1672, to the General S. J. Father John P. Oliva, extols Father Rice then Superior of his brethren, for his learning, disinterested and indefatigable zeal, fervid eloquence, remarkable discretion, and profound religious virtue; he adds, that this good Father has all the modest diffidence of a Novice: that he is a true son of St. Ignatius, and full of the spirit of the Institute. In a second letter to the same, dated Armagh, 30th of January, 1673, the worthy Archbishop repeats his unqualified commendation of this meritorious Father. His Grace of Dublin, Archbishop P. Talbot, held him in no less esteem. We have this Rev. Superior’s well written report of the Irish Mission of the Society, from the year 1669 to the 15th of July, 1675, and which has furnished several details for these biographical Sketches. I find by a letter dated Poitiers, 20th of May, 1097, that he was thus recommended by its Rector, F. Kelly, to the General Gonzales, to resume the Government of his Brethren in Ireland : “Rev. Father Stephen Rice, who, about 20 years since, was Superior of the Mission, appears to me eminently qualified to fill that office again, unless his age and strength may incapacitate him for the labour”. When the good old man descended into the tomb, I have inquired in vain.

  • The head of this illustrious victim of legal murder, is respectfully preserved in the Convent at Drogheda. How true is the remark, that “Calumny spread, no matter how, will frequently prove an Overmatch for candour, truth, and innocence, until time has applied his Touchstone, and proved the temper of the Metal!”


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