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Patrick Francis Moran

His Eminence
Patrick Francis Moran
Cardinal, Archbishop of Sydney
Portrait of Cardinal Moran, taken in Brisbane, Queensland circa 1900
Archdiocese Sydney
Installed 1884
Term ended 1911
Predecessor Roger Vaughan
Successor Michael Kelly
Other posts Bishop of Ossory 1872–1884
Ordination 19 March 1853 (Priest)
Consecration 5 March 1872 (Bishop)
Created Cardinal 27 July 1885
Rank Cardinal priest of S. Susanna
Personal details
Born 16 September 1830
Leighlinbridge, County Carlow, Ireland
Died 16 August 1911(1911-08-16) (aged 80)
Sydney, Australia
Buried St. Mary's Cathedral, Sydney
Nationality Irish
Denomination Roman Catholic Church
Parents Patrick Moran and Alicia Mary Cullen
Alma mater Irish College, Rome
Coat of arms }

Patrick Francis Moran (16 September 1830 – 16 August 1911) was the third Roman Catholic Archbishop of Sydney[1] and the first Australian cardinal. [2]


  • Early life 1
  • Bishop of Ossory 2
  • Cardinal Moran 3
  • Publications 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7

Early life

Moran was born at Leighlinbridge, County Carlow, Ireland on 16 September 1830. His parents were Patrick and Alicia Cullen Moran. Of his three sisters, two became nuns, one of whom died nursing cholera patients.[3] His parents died by the time he was 11 years old. In 1842, at the age of twelve, he left Ireland in the company of his uncle, Paul Cullen, rector of the Irish College in Rome. There Moran studied for the priesthood, first at the minor seminary and then at the major seminary.[4]

Moran was considered so intellectually bright that he gained his doctorate by acclamation. By twenty-five he spoke ten languages, ancient and modern.[5] He focused on finding and editing important documents and manuscripts related to Irish ecclesiastical history. Some editions of his works remain important source materials to this day.[6]

He was appointed vice-rector at the Irish College and also took the chair of Hebrew at Propaganda Fide. He was also some-time vice-rector of the Scots College in Rome. In 1866 Moran was appointed secretary to his mother's half-brother, Cardinal Paul Cullen of Dublin.[4] Moran was also appointed professor of scripture at Clonliffe College, Dublin. He founded the "Irish Ecclesiastical Record" (on which he later modelled the "Australasian Catholic Record").

In 1869 he accompanied Cardinal Cullen to the First Vatican Council,[3] a council also attended by Melbourne's then first archbishop, James Alipius Goold. According to Michael Daniel, it is generally agreed that the definition of the Catholic doctrine of papal infallibility was based on Cullen's proposal, and Ayres suggests that there is strong evidence that Cullen's proposal was largely drafted by Moran.[6] While in Rome and Ireland he was very active politically in opposing English Benedictine plans for monastic foundations undergirding the Catholic Church in Australia.

Bishop of Ossory

Moran was appointed coadjutor bishop of Ossory on 22 December 1871 and was consecrated on 5 March 1872 in Dublin by his uncle Cardinal Paul Cullen. On the death of Edward Walsh he succeeded as Bishop of Ossory on 11 August 1872.[1] He championed Home Rule and was consulted by W. E. Gladstone prior to the introduction of his Home Rule Bills.[3]

Cardinal Moran

Statue of Cardinal Moran at St Mary's Cathedral

He was personally chosen and promoted by Pope Leo XIII to head the Archdiocese of Sydney – a clear policy departure from the previous English Benedictine incumbents (Polding, Vaughan) who were experiencing tension leading the predominantly Irish-Australian Catholics. In the archbishop's farewell audience with Leo XIII, it was evident that the intrigues of parties, the interference of government agencies, and the influence of high ecclesiastics had made the matter almost impossible of decision by Propaganda. In the presence of others the Holy Father said clearly: "We took the selection into our own hands. You are Our personal appointment."[3] Moran was appointed to Australia on 25 January 1884 and arrived on 8 September 1884. He was created Cardinal-Priest on 27 July 1885 of the title of St Susanna.[4] The new Irish-Australian cardinal made it his business to make his presence and leadership felt.

Moran began transforming the Sydney St. Patrick's Day festivities by inaugurating the celebration of a solemn High Mass in St Mary's Cathedral on St Patrick's Day 1885. Over time the day's events changed from an Irish nationalist and political day into an occasion 'for the demonstration of Irish Catholic power and respectable assimilation' as well as 'for the affirmation of Irish Catholic solidarity'.[7]

In the year 1886 it is estimated that Moran travelled 2500 miles over land and sea, visiting all the dioceses of New Zealand. In 1887 he travelled 6000 miles to consecrate fellow Irishman Matthew Gibney at Perth.[8] He also travelled to Ballarat, Bathurst, Bendigo, Hobart, Goulburn, Lismore, Melbourne and Rockhampton for the consecration of their cathedrals. Following the 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum, he supported the right of laborers to better their conditions.[6]

During his episcopate, Moran consecrated 14 bishops (he was the principal consecrator of William Walsh, Michael Verdon, Patrick Vincent Dwyer, Armand Olier and also assisted in consecrating Patrick Clune, among others). He ordained nearly 500 priests, dedicated more than 5000 churches and professed more than 500 nuns. He made five journeys to Rome on church business between 1885 and 1903, but did not attend the 1903 conclave because of the relatively short notice and the distance.

From 1900 to 1901, Moran's leadership survived a crisis when his personal secretary, Denis O'Haran, was named as co-respondent in the divorce case of the cricketer Arthur Coningham. Moran vigorously defended O'Haran and a jury found in his favour.

Moran did not participate in the papal conclave of 1903 because he was unable to reach Rome within ten days of the death of Pope Leo XIII.

Moran died in Manly, Sydney, in August 1911, aged 80. A quarter of a million people (the largest crowd ever to gather in Australia until that date) witnessed his funeral procession through the centre of Sydney. He is buried in St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney.


  • "Memoir of the Most Rev. Oliver Plunkett" (1861)
  • "Essays on the Origin, etc., of the Early Irish Church"
  • "History of the Catholic Archbishops of Dublin" (1864)
  • "Historical Sketch of the Persecutions, etc., under Cromwell and the Puritans" (1866)
  • "Acta S. Brendani" (1872)
  • "Monasticon Hibernicum" 2 vols. by Mervyn Archdall, as editor (1873)
  • "Spicilegium Ossoriense, being a Collection of Documents to illustrate the History of the Irish Church from the Reformation to the Year 1800" (3 vols., 4to, 1879)
  • a volume of poems entitled "Fragmentary Thoughts"
  • "The Federal Government of Australasia,"
  • "Letters on the Anglican Reformation" (1890).[2]
  • "St. Patrick", Catholic Encyclopedia (1911)[9]


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ a b  
  3. ^ a b c d O'Haran, Denis. "Francis Patrick Cardinal Moran." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 14. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 6 Nov. 2014
  4. ^ a b c "Patrick Francis Cardinal Moran", Catholic Archdiocese of Sidney
  5. ^ "Patrick F. Moran", National Portrait Gallery
  6. ^ a b c , 8 December 2007News Weekly, in Prince of the ChurchDaniel, Michael. Review of Ayres,
  7. ^ O'Farrell, Patrick. "St Patrick's Day in Australia", Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, vol 81, p 11, 1994
  8. ^ Gibney, Matthew (1835–1925) Biographical Entry – Australian Dictionary of Biography Online at
  9. ^ Moran, Patrick Francis Cardinal. "St. Patrick." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 6 Nov. 2014

Further reading

  • Philip Ayres, Prince of the Church: Patrick Francis Moran, 1830–1911, Miegunyah Press, Melbourne, 2007.

External links

  • 2007 essay
  • Cardinal Moran on Catholic
  • Cardinal Moran in the Australian Dictionary of Biography
  • O'Haran, Denis. "Francis Patrick Cardinal Moran." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 14. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Edward Walsh
Bishop of Ossory
Succeeded by
Abraham Brownrigg
Preceded by
Roger Bede Vaughan, O.S.B.
Archbishop of Sydney
Succeeded by
Michael Kelly
Preceded by
Bartolomeo D'Avanzo
Cardinal-Priest of Santa Susanna
Succeeded by
François-Virgile Dubillard
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