Encased in an ornate glass box, the relics arrived in Ballina shortly after noon on Thursday, having being transported from the Cathedral of the Annunciation and St Nathy, Ballaghderreen, and remained in the town for 22 hours before being brought to Knock Shrine for an extended veneration.
The relics of the Saint, widely known as the Spiritual Director of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, were brought to Ireland after the Irish Bishop’s Conference accepted the offer of the Jesuit community at Parayle-Monial, France to make them available for veneration.
The Irish Pioneers Association have taken responsibility to have the relics brought to each diocese in the country; with the Diocese of Killala pencilled in for last week.
The special occasion is the sesquicentenary (150 years) of the extension of the Feast of the Sacred Heart to the Universal Church by Blessed Pius IX in 1856.
Claude La Colombiére was born on February 2 1641 at Saint Symphorien d’Ozon in the diocese of Lyon in France. Having first sensed his calling to a religious life at an early age, he entered the Jesuit novitiate in Avignon at the age of 18 and in 1660 he moved from the novitiate to the college, where he took his first vows and completed his studies in philosophy. He is most widely known for his direction of religious sister, and visionary nun, Sr Margaret Mary Alacoque.
St Claude passed away on February 15 1682, at the age of 41. In 1684, his ‘Sermons’ were published. The remains of Claude La Colombiére were laid in the Jesuit Chapel at Paray until 1763 and over fifty years later his relics were handed over to the Jesuits.
During the pontificate of Leo XII on January 8 1880, the Cause of the Beatification of Claude La Colombiére was first introduced. Fr Claude was declared Blessed by Pope Pius XI in June 1929 and was finally canonised by Pope John Paul II in May 1992.
The relics arrived in the West of Ireland on June 21 and will remain in the region until Friday July 21st before been returned to Paray-le-Monial in France.
In total, the relics of St Claude La Colombiére have been scheduled to visit more than 30 Churches and Cathedrals in Ireland, making a total of seven stops in Mayo, Sligo and Galway.