St Leger, William, 1599-1665, Jesuit priest

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St Leger, William, 1599-1665, Jesuit priest

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Other form(s) of name

  • Salinger
  • Salingero
  • Salingerus
  • Gulielmus Satin-Leger

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1599-09 June 1665


Born: 1599, County Kilkenny
Entered: 08 October 1621, Tournai, Belgium - Belgicae Province (BELG)
Ordained: 20 March 1627, Cambrai, France
Final vows: 15 August 1635
Died: 09 June 1665, Irish College, Santiago de Compostella, Spain - Castellanae Province (CAST)

Alias Salinger
Superior of Mission 29 June 1652-December 1652 and 16 July 1661-09 June 1665

Mother was Margaret Duingyn (Duigin?)
Studied Humanities at home and at Antwerp, Philosophy at Douai, was MA
1625 in 1st year Theology at Douai
1637 ROM Catalogue Good in all, fit to teach Humanities
1649 In Kilkenny (50 after his name)
1650 Catalogue DOB 1697. A Confessor and Director of Sodality BVM. Prefect of Residence many years and Consultor of Mission. Age 53, Superior of Kilkenny Residence and of Seminary at Compostella for 6 years
1654 Exiled from Clonmel
1655 Rector of Irish Seminary St Iago CAST
1658 At Compostella Age 57 Soc 36. A Superior at various times in Ireland. Rector and Provincial in Ireland. Rector Irish College. Taught Grammar.

◆ Fr Edmund Hogan SJ “Catalogica Chronologica” :
Studied Humanities, two years Philosophy and four years Theology in Sicily before Ent. Knew French, English, Irish and Latin.
Taught Humanities for many years; Was Confessor and Director of BVM Sodality; Superior of Residences and Consultor of Irish Mission for many years.
1650 Superior at Kilkenny College, and then moved to Galway when Kilkenny was captured.
1651 He was obliged to flee Ireland, escaped to Spain and succeeded John Lombard as Rector at Compostella, and he died there 09 June 1665 aged 66
He wrote the life of Archbishop of Cashel, Thomas Walsh. 4to Antwerp 1655 (Oliver, Stonyhurst MSS)
Writer; Prisoner; Exiled with great cruelty; Professor of Humanities; Rector of Compostella Residence; Superior of the Irish Mission; Of great gentleness and prudence; Educated in Sicily and Belgium (cf Foley’s Collectanea)

◆ Fr Francis Finegan :
Son of Thomas and Margaret née Duigan
Early education was at Antwerp. He also graduated MA and D Phil at Douai before Ent 08 October 1621 Tournai
1623-1627 After First Vows he was sent a year of Regency at Douai and then stayed there for Theology, and was Ordained at Cambrai 20 March 1627
1628 Sent to Ireland and Kilkenny, and was later Superior at the Kilkenny Residence, and then Rector of the College. He identified himself with the small group of Ormondist partisans in the Kilkenny community whose approval of the Supreme Council's defiance of Rinuccini was reported to Rome and caused the General to send Mercure Verdier on Visitation to the Irish Mission.
1652 Superior of the Mission on 29 June 1652, but six months later was deported to Spain. He arrived in San Sebastián and was then sent to the Irish College Santiago, where he continued as Superior of the Irish Mission until 27 June 1654.
1654-1661 Rector of Irish College Santiago an Office he held for seven years
1661 Reappointed Superior of the Irish Mission 16 July 1661 but ill health prevented him from returning to Ireland. This meant there were two Superiors of the Irish Mission - William in Spain, and Richard Shelton in Ireland. He died at Santiago 09 June 1665

◆ Royal Irish Academy : Dictionary of Irish Biography, Cambridge University Press online :
St Leger, William
by Terry Clavin

St Leger, William (1599–1665), Jesuit, was born in Co. Kilkenny in September 1599, the son of Thomas St Leger and his wife Margaret Duignan. He left Ireland to study classics at Antwerp and philosophy at Douai and graduated MA and D.Phil. On 8 October 1621 he entered the Society of Jesus at Tournai. Ordained a priest at Cambrai on 20 March 1627, he was professed of the four vows of his order on 15 August 1635. In 1628 he had returned to Ireland, where he taught at Kilkenny city. Following the 1641 rebellion and the establishment in 1642 of the Catholic Confederation of Ireland, St Leger was prominent as a supporter of an alliance with the protestant royalists led by James Butler (qv), earl of Ormond. Nonetheless, in 1646 St Leger supported the decision by GianBattista Rinuccini (qv), papal nuncio to Ireland, to excommunicate those who adhered to the peace between the supreme council of the confederation and Ormond.

However, when Rinuccini excommunicated the supporters of the supreme council's cessation with the protestant forces in Munster in the summer of 1648, St Leger strongly opposed him. Rinuccini was particularly bitter over the refusal of St Leger, and the Jesuit order in general, to back him in 1648. After the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland (1649–52), St Leger was appointed superior of the Irish Jesuits on 29 June 1652, but he was obliged to flee to Spain in January 1653 after the authorities banished all catholic clergy from Ireland upon pain of death. He settled in Spain, where he became rector of the Irish college at Compostela. In 1655 he published a life of Thomas Walsh (qv), archbishop of Cashel during the confederate period. This work was criticised by Rinuccini's supporters for failing to mention the controversies of 1648 and St Leger's own role in them. In 1661 he was re-appointed head of the Jesuit mission in Ireland but ill health prevented him from returning home to assume this position. He died 9 June 1665 at Compostela.

Comment. Rinucc., vi, 188; Edmund Hogan, Chronological catalogue of the Irish members of the Society of Jesus (n.d.), 30; The whole works of Sir James Ware concerning Ireland, ed. and trans. W. Harris (1764), ii, 144; Gilbert, Contemp. hist., i, 277; Gilbert, Ir. confed., vi, 69, 277, 314; Michael J. Hynes, The mission of Rinuccini (1932), 131, 265; ODNB

◆ James B Stephenson SJ The Irish Jesuits Vol 1 1962
William St Leger (1652-1654)
William St Leger, son of Thomas St Leger, or Salinger, and Margaret Duigin, was born in the county of Kilkenny in September, 1599. He went to Belgium in 1617; studied rhetoric at Antwerp and philosophy at Douay, where he gained the degrees of Licentiate and Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy. He entered the Novitiate of the Society at Tournay on 8th October, 1621. After teaching grammar a year at Douay, he studied theology there for four years, and was ordained on 20th March, 1627, at Cambray. He returned to Ireland in 1628, and was usually stationed at Kilkenny, where he made his solemn profession of four vows on 5th August, 1639. He was Superior of the Kilkenny Residence and Director of the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin for many years. Then he became Rector of the College at Kilkenny, Consultor of the Mssion, and, finally, on 29th June, 1652, Superior of the Mission. When on 6th January, 1653, an edict banishing all priests from Ireland within ten days was published, Fr St Leger was lying ill in a friend's house at Kilkenny, but his weakness won him no respite. He had to be carried on a stretcher for twenty Irish miles to a seaport, where he was put on board a ship bound for San Sebastian, where he arrived before 26th April, 1653. After some time he took up his residence at the Irish College of Santiago. He continued Superior of the Mission, though resident in Spain, until 27th June, 1654, when he became Rector of the Irish College of Santiago, a position he held for the next seven years.

William St Leger (1661-1663)
Fr William St Leger (for whom vide supra 1652-54) was appointed Superior of the Irish Mission on 16th July, 1661, but was prevented by ill-health from returning, so that for the next two years there were two Superiors of the Irish Mission, one in Spain, Fr William St Leger, and one in Ireland, Fr Richard Shelton. Fr St Leger died at the Irish College of Santiago on 9th June, 1665. He was an accomplished Latinist, and to his pen we are indebted for many treatises which throw light on the state of the Catholic religion in general, and on the history of the activities of the Society of Jesus in Ireland in particular, from the earliest times down to the year 1662.

◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973
Father William St Leger 1599-1665
William St Leger was born in Kilkenny in 1599.

Having joined the Society at Tournai he returned to Ireland after his ordination in 1628. He was a fluent speaker of English, Latin and Irish and taught classics for many years. He became Superior of the Kilkenny Residence, Director of the Sodality, Consultor of the Mission, and finally Superior in 1652. His zeal for souls made him a special object of hatred for the Puritans.

When an edict was published in 1653 banishing all priests from Ireland within ten days. Fr William was lying ill at a friends house, He was transported on a stretcher to the nearest seaport and put on a ship bound for San Sebastian. He made port in April, having been at sea since January. He took up residence at the Irish College Santiago, where he became Rector for seven years.

In 1661 he was again appointed Superior of the Irish Mission, but through ill health never returned to Ireland. For two years there were two Superiors, Fr St Leger in Spain and Fr Richard Shelton in Ireland. The difficulty was resolved by Fr St Leger’s death at Santiago on June 9th 1665.

We are indebted to him for many treatises on the State of the Catholic Religion and of the Society of Jesus in Ireland at that period. He is also the author of a life of Thomas Walsh, Archbishop of Cashel who died in Compostella.

◆ George Oliver Towards Illustrating the Biography of the Scotch, English and Irish Members SJ
ST. LEGER, WILLIAM. The 1st time that I meet with him is in a letter written by him from his native place, Kilkenny, on the 3rd of January, 1646-7, wherein he speaks in the highest terms of the merits of Peter Francis Scarampi, the Oratorian, and Envoy of the Holy See to the Irish Nation. Pere Verdier found him two years later superior of the College at Kilkenny. When that City was taken, he removed to Galway. In 1651, the success of the Puritan faction compelled him to seek safety in flight. Retiring to Compostella, he ended his days in peace, on the 9th of June, 1665, aet. 66. We have from his pen the Life of Thomas Walsh, Archbishop of Caascll, 4to. Antwerp, 1655, who died at Compostella.


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