Scholar, Poet, Bishop
1571 to 1626
Born Aodh Mac Cathmhaoil in Down (Downpatrick) in 1571, Mac Aingil (a nick-name invented by his students) received his earliest education in his native place and in the Isle of Man. On his return to Ireland he was selected by Hugh, Prince of Tyrone, as tutor to his sons Henry and Hugh. He was sent by the prince as special messenger to the Court of Spain to solicit aid for the Ulster forces. During his stay at Salamanca, he took a doctor’s degrees in divinity and entered the Franciscan order. He enjoyed a great reputation as a theologian, and his commentaries on John Duns Scotus were held in high repute. It was principally due to his great influence at the Spanish Court that the Irish Franciscan College of St. Anthony was founded at Louvain. He taught for some time in the University of Salamanca before being appointed superior and lecturer at Louvain. He was summoned to Rome to lecture in the convent of Aracoeli. While there he was employed by the pope on several commissions. He gave substantial help to Father Luke Wadding in founding and developing St. Isidore’s and the Ludovisi colleges for Irish students. On 17 March 1626 Urban VIII nominated Mac Aingil Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of all Ireland. MacAingil’s health had been much weakened by his many duties and the great austerities he practised. While making preparation for his departure to Ireland he caught a fever and died and was buried in the church of St. Isidore.
Mac Aingil’s principal works are: Scoti Commentaria in quatuor libros Sententiarum, 2 vols., folio, Antwerp, 1620 (to this work is prefixed a life of Scotus); Scoti Commentaria seu Reportata Parisiensia; Quæstiones quodilibetales; Quæstiones in libros de anima; Quæstiones in metaphysicam; etc. He also wrote a work in Irish, which was printed at the Irish press in the college of St. Anthony’s, Louvain, in 1618, entitled Scathain sacramunthe na Aithrighe, that is, The Mirror of the Sacrament of Penance.
James C. Napier ‘Aodh Mac Aingil Downpatrick’s Most Illustrious Son?’ Lecale Miscellany No 17 1999 pp 12 – 20
Patrick Conlon OFM ‘The Little Brother from Down – Aodh Mac Aingil as a good Fransciscan’ Seanchas Ard Mhacha Vol 19 No 2 2003 pp 63 – 70
Location of plaque:The gardens at Saint Patrick’s Centre, Downpatrick
Report of Plaque unveiling available HERE