Archbishop Gallagher salutes the Irish Brigade 80 years after they met the pope

Archbishop Paul Gallagher // Under Caesar's Sword // University of Notre  DameArchbishop Paul Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States within the Holy See’s Secretariat of State, today saluted the memory of the men of 38 (Irish) Brigade who were the first Allied troops to be greeted by Pope Pius XII in the Vatican following the liberation of Rome on 4 June 1944.

“This was an extraordinary event in the last year of the Second World War,” he told representatives of the brigade at a meeting in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican on 11 June. “The men who came to the Vatican and broke the siege deserve to be remembered.”

Archbishop Gallagher was speaking ahead of the general Papal Audience in St Peter’s Square on 12 June to be attended by a delegation representing the brigade including family members of the men who were in the Vatican in 1944 and the Royal Irish Regiment, the formation in the British Army that was formed from the amalgamation of the regiments in the Brigade in 1944.

The Irish Brigade in June 1944 comprised 6 Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, 1 Royal Irish Fusiliers and 2 London Irish Rifles. It originally comprised men from Ireland or of Irish descent. The audience was organised by Irish ambassador to the Holy See Dr Thomas J Kiernan, Irish Brigade commander TPD (Pat) Scott, the brigade major and Father Dan Kelleher, Catholic padre for the Royal Irish Fusiliers. A total of 150 members of the brigade attended the audience including men from what is now the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and both Catholics and Protestants.

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